75°Partly Cloudy

UPDATED: Police Arrest Suspect in Pike Homicide

by ARLnow.com August 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm 9,689 77 Comments

Arlington Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of Columbia Pike jewelry shop owner Tommy Wong.

Police say the suspect, 53-year-old Southeast D.C. resident James Sylvester Caroline, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. He’s being held at the Arlington County jail for a probation violation, but charges are expected to be filed against him in Wong’s death.

(Update on 8/3/12: Caroline has been formally charged with murder.)

Wong was killed during a robbery at the Capital Jewelers store at 3219 Columbia Pike on the afternoon of Friday, July 27. Friends, family and residents held a candlelight vigil for Wong last night.

A law enforcement source tells ARLnow.com that Caroline was arrested during a traffic stop on the 4300 block of King Street, on the Arlington/Alexandria line. The arrest, we’re told, was the result of “round the clock” work by numerous Arlington detectives and police officers.

Caroline’s long criminal record in Virginia includes charges of grand larceny and probation violation in 1994, failure to appear in court in 1998 and 1999, and credit card theft and fraud in 2005. Caroline is also currently being investigated for a jewelry store robbery in D.C., in which the suspect was caught on surveillance video wearing the same yellow vest as the suspect in the Columbia Pike homicide.

Police issued the following press release about Caroline’s arrest:

Charges are expected to be brought forward on a 52 year-old DC man for his role in a recent jewelry store homicide in Arlington County.

Wednesday afternoon, the Arlington County Police Department arrested James Sylvester Caroline, 52, of Washington, D.C. for probation violation. He is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are expected to be brought forward on Caroline in relation to the July 27, 2012 jewelry store homicide that resulted in the death of 52 year-old Tommy Wong.

Details on the arrest and the investigation will not be released at this time.

The Arlington County Police Department would like to recognize the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance that led to capture of Caroline. Additionally, Arlington County Police want to extend an appreciation to the community for their support and efforts by providing numerous tips over the past several days.

  • CrystalMikey

    Great news if this is in fact the guy.

    • Tabby_TwoTone


  • Arlingtoon

    Nice work ACPD (and MPD and FBI).

    I’m not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV, but I believe that he’ll be eligible for the death penalty if he’s convicted, depending on the charges that are brought against him. And he’ll deserve it.

    • It’s a decision for the CA.

      The death penalty.

      It’d be great to see, but given Arlington is what it is, I’d be surprised if the Arlington CA goes for the death penalty.

      • Arlingtoon

        They’ve done it before. Not often, but it’s happened.

        • nom de guerre

          Christopher James Beck was executed in 2001 after being convicted in Arlington of 3 counts of capital murder and rape that occurred in 1995.


          • Ashton Heights

            Where in Arlington did this happen?

          • nom de guerre

            South Arlington near Army Navy Country Club. One victim was a Federal employee and another was an Arlington County Employee.

          • Ashton Heights

            Thanks. I had not heard this before. It’s quite a haunting story.

          • charles

            a black guy? really?

      • Not Me

        Doesn’t it have to be premeditated to qualify as a capital offense?

        • Mary-Austin

          The murder was committed during a robbery, which is a felony.

          • Greg

            I’m pretty sure all murders are felonies.

          • Mary-Austin

            But not all of them occur while the murderer is committing another felony.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          Murder is, by definition, premeditated. Manslaughter would be the “unintentional” flavor of killing.

          Other commentator was right, a capital offense (eligible for death penalty) is murder during the commission of another crime (not sure if that other crime has to be a felony).

          • drax

            I thought 2nd degree murder wasn’t premeditated. Intentional, but not premeditated.

      • drax

        Hard to seek the death penalty when you don’t have a homicide for two years.

        • SomeGuy


          • drax

            Hard to seek it for murders that haven’t happened, I mean. Hence the relative lack of death penalties in Arlington. Not talking about this case.

      • SouthArlJD

        What? You think just because this is the People’s Republic of Arlington they don’t go for the death penalty? Boy are you off-base. They go for it whenever they have a case which meets the special requirements for a capital case. It’s not only Christopher James Beck who comes to mind, but Timothy Spencer, aka The Southside Strangler, who was convicted of capital murder the first major criminal trial in the United States where the conviction was based almost exclusively on DNA. There’s a pretty good book about it called Stalking Justice. The only reason they haven’t done it more often is because there just aren’t that many murders in Arlington in the average year. There weren’t ANY murders in Arlington for all of 2011, although we appear to be making up for lost time this year.

      • BoredHouseWife

        An eye for an eye leaves the world blind.

    • Ben

      My guess is depending on how strong their case is – if it goes that route he’ll plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

      • SouthArlJD

        That’s no guarantee of avoiding the death penalty. In fact, Christopher James Beck pleaded guilty and then was sentenced to death after a bench hearing in front of Judge William Newman, now the chief judge. It was a good calculation on the part of defense counsel to throw him on the mercy of the court. At the time Judge Newman was relatively new to the bench, had been a defense attorney himself, and had a reputation for leniency not shared by his colleagues. I sat through a good part of the sentencing hearing. It came as a shock to hear Judge Newman pronounce death, but it wasn’t even the first time it had ever been done in Arlington. I’d heard stories from the old timers around the courthouse of other times when death was pronounced after a straight up guilty plea.

  • Andy

    How come a lot of the Arlington County mug shots are taken at an angle? Is that some kind of influence from the old Batman TV series?

    • JamesE

      myspace angle so you don’t look fat.

    • WeiQiang

      *BOFF !!*

    • CommonCents

      I guess you’ve never heard of the “Gangsta lean”. Most criminals don’t stand and walk with proper posture, just fyi.

      • nom de guerre

        I always refer to it as a brofile.

  • ’tis why I LOVE Arlington -fast, good work from the Police!

    • SomeGuy

      Really? I like it for the plentiful young, semi-intelligent, and moderately attractive women.

      • DCBuff

        Finally! A post with which I can agree.

  • Justice

    Great work ACPD, MPD and FBI.

    It will be interesting to read more about his prior conviction and probation.

  • Duder3

    Great news. Hats off to ACPD, MPD, and FBI.

    Provided they have the right culprit and he’s found guilty, such a completely unprovoked murder should get the death penalty.

  • JohnB2

    Glad they got the guy, assuming that’s him. I’m sure DCPD will want a crack at him too because of a similar robbery there (50’s BM with vest).

    • MC 703

      I max out at 2 BMs per day myself.

      • Arlingtoon


      • nom de guerre

        That’s nothing, just last week we were advised to be on the lookout for a 5’9″ BM driving a car. It must have weighed at least 25 courics.

    • JohnB2

      I can’t find an article specifically about the guy in DC but it is mentioned in an article about Mr. Wong:

      “Police in the District say on June 9 at 4:41 p.m., a man wearing a florescent vest walked into Bensons Jewelers in Northwest and pointed a gun at the owner.” (WJLA)

      • Loocy

        There was a surveillance video that was shown on television, and it sure looked like the same guy.

        • Jack Tors

          That’s because it was the same. However, some low-life lawyer will try to get him off on a technicality.

          • UA

            I don’t mind if he gets off for the one in DC if he gets the chair here.

          • drax

            So, Jack, you don’t believe in the basic American principle of the right to representation by an attorney for the accused?

  • SomeGuy

    Considering the surveillance video, the fingerprints he likely left at the scene, and the likelihood that his prints were already on file for a previous conviction, I figured they’d nab a suspect within the week.

    Great news if the ACPD, et al, have taken a killer off the streets.

  • JakeO

    What a jerk face. He looks angry like he just got arrested for murder or something. Way to go ACPD….

  • HenryBennetXIII

    ACPD ROCKS!!!!!

    • sunflower

      2nd that!!

  • novasteve

    My Lord, he looks like an older version of John Allen Muhammad.

    • SomeGuy

      I was wondering who he reminded me of, and I think you nailed it, novasteve.

  • Sick

    It’s sickening how some people hold no value for human life. This guy killed someone over a few dollars. I hope he is tortured in jail every day until the day he’s put to death. I almost wish they’d set up a torture chamber for these type of criminals for life and not give them the satisfaction of being put to death.

    • SomeGuy

      Let’s not rush to judgment. He hasn’t had his day in court, so please postpone any torture wishes you have for the man pictured above, whom our justice system considers innocent until proven guilty.

      • Elmer

        Let it be known that the enabling has begun.
        As they say on the tv show Cops, even though the perp was caught red handed in the act and on camera, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
        Just like O.J.

        • drax

          So, Elmer, you don’t believe in the basic American principle of innocent until proven guilty?

          • novasteve

            Drax, all “innocent until proven guilty” means is that the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove BRD all the elemnts of a crime. If we truly treated people as innocent before guilty we wouldn’t jail them before trial.

          • drax

            Fine, steve. So I’ll rephrase: So, Elmer, you don’t believe in the basic American principle of the prosecution proving all elements of a crime, at a trial, and not assuming guilt until that trial has concluded and found the accused guilty?

  • Love Thy Neighbor

    The Wong family is very nice and hardworking. They have been a part of the Arlington business community for a long time. A few of us have left flowers and cards. I am sure that gestures of kindness would be appreciated by the Wong family during this time of great grief.

    The suffering Mr. Wong’s children and wife must be feeling is unimaginable.

  • kc

    Let me add my thanks to all in law enforcement who got on this so quickly.

  • Jerome

    Dude thought he was so slick

  • Yay thanks to all police and experts for the great work. That was fast. Very proud – now lock him up for a LONG time. He needs to pay.

    Next up: the teens who robbed the check cashing lady.

  • Toan

    If he’s the killer, don’t locked him up for life, it’s a waste of taxpayer money.
    Death penalty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ricardo

      It is sometimes more expensive to put someone to death than to imprison him/her for life… see e.g. this Urban Institute study.

  • Snarkgasm

    He sh

  • Snarkgasm

    Recommended sentence:

    1) 100 hours of Chik-fil-a kiss in
    2) 200 hours riding behind obnoxious spandex wielding cyclists with eyes forced open ala Clockwork Orange
    3) Forced ride-alongs with the illegally parking Arlington parking enforcement
    4) Death penalty?

    • Trolly Troll

      Dont forget Arlington needs prisoners to building the trolly line.

  • Craig

    Great job ACPD and others.

  • NrNy2ArlVa

    This may have been Arlington’s first murder in 2 years, but when was the last unsolved murder? That is definitely something to be proud of.

  • Jim Moron

    Hope they throw the book at this piece of sh*t.

    By the way, the article and press release state different ages (52 vs. 53).

    • UA

      Today is his birthday

    • nom de guerre

      According to court records his birthday is 7/21/****.

  • JimPB

    Kudos to the ACPD for the arrest and for sharing credit with two other law enforcement agencies and thanking the community for tips: “The Arlington County Police Department would like to recognize the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance that led to capture of Caroline. Additionally, Arlington County Police want to extend an appreciation to the community for their support and efforts by providing numerous tips over the past several days.”

  • Just Me

    Good job ACPD!!! Glad we have a good PD.

  • Crystal lite and vodka

    I’m very impressed that an arrest was made! Sounds like the reflective vest gave off some clues and the police were able to pinpoint where this person worked?

    I admit I thought their only real proficiency was monitoring HOV lanes and checking parking lots for current inspections and tax decals. It’s nice to know that when an actual crime is committed, the staff is able to react quickly and effectively.

    • drax

      You were unaware that police catch violent criminals sometimes?

      • SomeGuy

        Perhaps he/she just didn’t think that’s what ACPD’s “real proficiency” was.


Subscribe to our mailing list