An Arlington County Grand Jury indicted James Sylvester Caroline on capital murder and weapons charges for the murder of Tommy Kin Mo Wong.
Caroline is accused of killing Wong during a robbery of the Capital Jewelers store at 3219 Columbia Pike on the afternoon of July 27. Caroline was arrested just days after the murder during a traffic stop on the Arlington/Alexandria border.
Caroline is set to appear in court on Thursday, December 20, to set a trial date.
Art from 9/11 Children Displayed at Pentagon — Art created by the children of those who lost their life on Sept. 11, 2001 is now on display at the Pentagon. It’s the first large-scale exhibit of the art, which was created by more than 500 children at a summer camp for the children of 9/11 victims. [WJLA]
Long-Form Article Examines Torrez Case — The Washington Examiner’s Harry Jaffe takes a close look at the case of former Marine Jorge Torrez, who is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for the abduction of two Arlington women and the abduction and brutal rape of another in February 2010. Torrez will face a death penalty trial next year for the murder of Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell. [Washingtonian]
Book Dating Returns to Shirlington Library — The Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Avenue) is calling all single bookworms for a “speed book dating” event. Participants are encouraged to bring a couple books they found interesting, and will then be given 3 minutes to discuss them with each potential date. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]
Affordable Housing Complex Reopens — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has reopened the 111-unit Buchanan Gardens apartment complex on Columbia Pike following major renovations. [Washington Post]
Arlington Foundation Raises Millions — The Arlington Community Foudnation has so far raised $4 million on its way to a goal of raising $15 million. The foundation “raises capital for grants and scholarships to address community needs now and in the future.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Gamble
Initially classified as “suspicious deaths” yesterday, police now say that they believe Arlington resident Keefe Spriggs, 59, and Carl Moten, 31, were murdered inside the apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street.
No weapon was found inside the apartment, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Still, police are not saying whether a killer is on the loose. Instead, Sternbeck says the crime was an “isolated incident” and that local residents should not be worried about further violence.
Spriggs was a divorced father of two who worked in a body shop, WJLA’s Jennifer Donelan reported Wednesday evening. Moten, a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and was staying at his apartment.
Both Spriggs and Moten had criminal records in Arlington, including DWI and eluding police for Spriggs, assault and probation violation for Moten, and possession of cocaine for both. Spriggs’ crimes dated back to 2003, however, and Sternbeck said so far there’s no indication of any other crime taking place inside the apartment other than the two killings.
After going more than two years without a homicide, these murders are the third and fourth homicide in Arlington so far this summer.
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
The suspect in the death of Columbia Pike jewelry store owner Tommy Wong has been formally charged with murder.
Washington D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline, 53, is being held without bond at the Arlington County jail on the murder charge and on a separate probation violation charge. He was arrested on the Arlington/Alexandria line during a traffic stop on Wednesday afternoon. Police say the arrest was the result of dogged police work and inter-agency cooperation.
“Through round the clock police work, this individual was located and taken into custody in a timely manner,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, who was unable to reveal any other details about the crime or the investigation.
Wong was killed during an armed robbery at his store — Capital Jewelers at 3219 Columbia Pike — on the afternoon of Friday, July 27. At a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, friends and family members described Wong as a kind and gentle man who worked hard to serve customers and provide for his family.
As of today, Arlington County has been homicide-free for exactly two years. It’s the first time Arlington has gone this long without a homicide in the 72-year history of the Arlington County Police Department.
“Reaching this mark is only possible through a combination of effective policing, excellent medical care, successful prosecution and cooperating communities; all of which we have experienced in Arlington County the past two years,” police chief M. Douglas Scott said in a statement.
The county has not recorded a single homicide since March 14, 2010, when a 20-year-old man was stabbed to death in the Lyon Park neighborhood. The suspect in the case later pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Amid the celebration of the murder-free milestone, however, there’s some concern within the department that there are not enough cops on the street to ensure that the recent, broader drop in crime continues. Despite a growing population and new post-9/11 anti-terrorism responsibilities, Arlington’s police force has actually shrunk slightly since 2001.
Whereas there were 362 sworn officers in Fiscal Year 2001 for a population of 189,983, there are currently 359 sworn officers for a population of 213,400 in FY 2012. That means ratio of officers to every 1,000 residents is 1.68, compared to 1.91 in FY 2001. That ratio is expected to get even narrower — to 1.67 — if the current recommended FY 2013 budget is adopted. (The population is expected to grow to 215,000 while the budget doesn’t provide for any additional officers.)
By comparison, in 2010 Alexandria’s officer/resident ratio was 2.19, and D.C.’s ratio was 6.52, according to a law enforcement source. Just to match Alexandria’s ratio, Arlington would need to hire more than 100 new officers.
“Our numbers are extremely low,” a police official told ARLnow.com. “Obviously we’re working efficiently, I don’t think anybody would deny that… [but] at some point in time, I’m not sure how much lower our ratio can go” without a corresponding increase in crime.
Death Penalty Sought for Torrez — Former Marine Jorge Torrez, who’s already serving a life sentence for raping and abducting an Arlington woman, is now facing a separate murder trial. Prosecutors say they’re seeking the death penalty for Torrez, who’s accused of murdering Navy petty officer Amanda Jean Snell in her barracks on Fort Myer in 2009. [WTOP]
Involuntary Bankruptcy for Market Tavern? — Creditors are trying to force newly-renovated Clarendon restaurant Market Tavern (formerly Harry’s Tap Room) into bankruptcy, claiming the eatery owes them at least $77,000 in unpaid debts. Owner Michael Sternberg says the proceedings won’t have an impact on the restaurant’s operations. [Washington Business Journal]
Elevation Burger Expanding — Arlington-based organic burger chain Elevation Burger is expanding. The restaurant now has 29 locations worldwide, but is planning to have 50 locations by the end of the year. The concept is proving especially popular in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the company is testing out two new burger toppings — hardwood smoked bacon and sauteed mushrooms — at its Arlington location (2447 North Harrison Street). [Nation's Restaurant News]
Historic Designation for Tiny Cemetery — A tiny, historic cemetery plot at 5000 Lee Highway, in the Hall’s Hill community, is getting some attention as Arlington County moves to designate it as a local historic district. The oldest grave in the 7,100 square foot cemetery is that of Margaret Hyson, who died in 1891 and was a former slave on the Hall’s Hill plantation. [Washington Post]
Javon Martin, 25, was arrested on a bench warrant and charged with robbery and murder in the first degree. A jury trial has been scheduled for April 23, according to court records.
Martin is one of two people charged in the case. His cousin, 20 year-old Roger K. Clark III, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in this case earlier this month. His sentencing is set for April.
Diener, 57, was found beaten and stabbed on Dec. 29, 2009 near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. In a “statement of facts” entered as part of Clark’s plea, prosecutors said that Martin stabbed Diener in the chest during an early morning robbery.
Martin was originally arrested in June of last year, but charges against him were dropped in October. It’s unclear why the charges were dropped.
As ARLnow.com first reported yesterday, a suspect in the case, Roger K. Clark III, has pleaded guilty to first degree murder in the case. In a statement of facts entered as part of the guilty plea, prosecutors say robbery was the motive behind the murder — and that Clark wasn’t the only perpetrator.
According to the statement, Clark and his cousin, Javon Martin — then 20 and 24 years of age, respectively — were driving around Arlington County early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009 looking for someone to rob. They encountered Diener, 57, near the intersection of N. 13th Street and N. Hudson Street, three blocks from the Clarendon Metro station. It was around 3:00 a.m. and Diener was on his way to a part-time job at a local health club, police said at the time.
During the robbery, prosecutors say, Clark punched Diener and then Martin stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Diener was later found lying on the street by a passerby who called police. Medics arrived on the scene and pronounced him dead. According to the statement of facts, Diener bled to death as a result of the stab wound, which severed two major arteries.
Clark’s DNA was found in several places, according to the statement, including on Diener’s palm and in his pants pocket, where Clark had looked for something to steal following the stabbing. In the end, Clark and Martin made off with Diener’s shoulder bag, according to prosecutors.
Clark’s plea was accepted yesterday afternoon by Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to seek more than 25 years in prison.
Martin was arrested in June, two days after Clark was arrested, but ultimately prosecutors decided not to pursue the first degree murder charges against him at the time. The charges were dropped in October, according to court records. Martin is not currently in custody, according to Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, who declined to comment further.
Carl Diener’s sister, Patti Diener Lough, said Clark’s guilty plea is comforting to her family.
“Nothing — not even this guilty plea — can ever bring Carl back to his family and remarkable network of friends and colleagues from so many aspects of his life,” Diener Lough told ARLnow.com via email. “But we are immensely comforted to know that a murderer is in custody and will not be able to hurt another person or family like he shattered ours.”
Roger K. Clark III entered a guilty plea on first degree murder charges today, prosecutors said. Circuit Court Judge Joanne F. Alper accepted the plea this afternoon. A sentencing hearing is now scheduled for April 27.
Diener, a 57-year-old Lyon Village resident, was found lying dead on a Clarendon street early on the morning of Dec. 29, 2009. A dogged investigation finally resulted in the arrest of Clark and another man in June 2011.
The second suspect in the case was later released after charges against him were dropped.
No Homicides in 2011 — It’s official: for the first time since at least the 1950s, Arlington County did not record a single homicide in 2011.
Another Book Dating Session — The Shirlington Branch Library is holding another Book Dating for Singles session, after the inaugural book dating event in October was deemed a success. This month’s book dating session will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15. Using books as conversation starters, participants will have three-minute “dates” moderated by library staff.
Arlington to Install Real-Time Traffic System — Arlington County is planning to install a real-time traffic system along Route 50. The system will track anonymous Bluetooth information from drivers’ cell phones in order to calculate the time it would take drivers to get from one point to another. [Washington Business Journal]
Earlier: If Arlington can go 36+ hours without a homicide, it will be the first year since at least the 1950s without a single recorded murder in Arlington County.
Available police records, which go back to 1960, show at least one homicide has been reported in each of the past 51 years. In fact, there have been 273 homicides in Arlington since 1960 — for an average of about 5.4 homicides per year.
The number of homicides in Arlington has declined since the early 1990s. In the six years between 1990 and 1995, there were 56 homicides in Arlington. Between 2006 and 2011, there have been 13 homicides, as illustrated below.
- 2006: 4
- 2007: 2
- 2008: 4
- 2009: 2
- 2010: 1
- 2011 (as of Dec. 29): 0
The District of Columbia is also experiencing a decline in murders. With 108 reported homicides as of Dec. 29, the District is on track to have the lowest murder tally since 1963.
Roger K. Clark III is facing a first degree murder charge in connection with the 2009 slaying of Diener. The 57-year-old Diener was found lying on a Clarendon side street in the early morning of Dec. 29, 2009. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
After a year and a half investigation, police arrested Clark and another man in June. The other suspect has since been released, while Clark faces a jury trial that’s currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2012.
The trial is expected to last at least four days, according to Diener’s sister.
GOP Will Likely Control Va. Senate — Despite the clean sweep by Arlington Democrats, it looks like Republicans will pick up the two Virginia Senate seats they needed to wrest control of the state Senate from Democrats. “If the results hold, Republicans will have complete control of state government for only the second time since the Civil War,” the Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, Republicans will now have a two-thirds majority in the House of Delegates after picking up six seats there. Gov. Bob McDonnell said the GOP-controlled General Assembly will be more likely to push a “pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage” agenda.
Hawaiians Protest Bail of Arlington Resident — Dozens of demonstrators marched through Honolulu last night to protest the release of State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy, an Arlington resident, on $250,000 bail. Deedy, 27, is charged with second-degree murder after shooting a man in the chest during a late-night argument inside a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [Associated Press]
Closures Planned for Tuckahoe 5K — The third annual Tuckahoe 5K run will be held on Saturday morning. Rolling street closures are planned in the East Falls Church neighborhood between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. For interested runners, limited race day registration will be available at Tuckahoe Elementary School. [Tuckahoe 5K].
Cookie Within a Cookie in Clarendon — What do you get when you place an Oreo cookie within a chocolate chip cookie? You get an ‘Oreo in a Blanket,’ which is being offered by Bakeshop in Clarendon (1025 N. Fillmore Street). [Clarendon Culture]
Mailer Blasts GOP State Senate Candidate — A mysterious last-minute political mailer has been sent to voters in the 32nd state Senate District. The mailer attacks GOP state Senate candidate Patrick Forrest for being “openly homosexual,” supporting “illegal immigration reform” and for supposedly working for President Obama’s transition team. Forrest’s opponent, incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell, spoke out against the mailers, calling them “disgusting and despicable.” The mailing’s return address comes back to a parking lot, and the organization it purports to come from does not exist. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Man Charged With Murder — A 27-year-old Arlington man has been charged with second degree murder in Hawaii. Christopher Deedy, a special agent with the State Department, allegedly shot a man during a late-night argument at a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [KHON 2]
Post Endorses Tejada, Hynes — The Washington Post has endorsed incumbent Democrats Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes for reelection to the Arlington County Board. The paper’s editorial board called their opponent, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, “well informed” but “anti-growth.” Clement, meanwhile, is accusing Tejada and Hynes of being “in bed with developers.” [Washington Post]
D.C. Cop Seeks Legal Fees from Arlington Lawyer — A D.C. police officer is asking her ex-boyfriend, an Arlington lawyer, to pay her legal fees (more than $70,000) in a case that included accusations of “attempted stalking,” defamation and civil rights violations. [Legal Times]
Marines Want More Access to APS Students — The U.S. Marine Corps is asking Arlington Public Schools to relax its restrictions on military recruiting at school facilities. While more restrictive than Fairfax County or other local jurisdictions, the school system argues that its rules are consistent with federal law. The Marine Corps says its rate of enlisting Arlington students is far below expectations. [Sun Gazette]
Norwood Found Guilty of Murder — A Montgomery County jury has found Brittany Norwood guilty of the brutal murder of Rosslyn resident Jayna Murray. Murray was found beaten and stabbed to death in a Bethesda Lululemon yoga store in March. [ABC 7]
Cain Accused of Sexual Harassment in Crystal City — Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain has been facing accusations that he sexually harassed female employees while serving as head of the National Restaurant Association. The latest accuser alleges that one incident of harassment happened at an (unnamed) restaurant in Crystal City. [Politico]
‘Puzzle Fest’ This Weekend — Arlington Public Library is hosting its first-ever Arlington Puzzle Festival on Saturday. From 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) puzzle enthusiasts can compete in crossword and Sudoku tournaments. There will also be speakers and a scavenger hunt. [Library Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2