Baby Jesus was stolen from outside Calvary United Methodist Church (2315 S. Grant Street), in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, sometime between 8 p.m. Saturday and the next morning, when parishioners showed up for Sunday worship services.
Police were called and took a report Monday, though hopes of cops catching the perpetrator are low. Rev. Matthew G. Smith said he’s hoping the thief has a change of heart and repents — by returning the Son of God to his rightful place in the manger, at least until the nativity scene is brought inside next weekend. Alternatively, the little Lord could also be left on the front steps of the church or brought, in person, to the front office.
“We have no desire to prosecute,” Smith said. “We would be very happy just to get Him back.”
“Baby Jesus missing,” said a sign posted in front of the nativity scene today. “Please return. No questions asked.”
(No other nativity thefts were reported this year in Arlington, according to an ACPD spokeswoman.)
This was the third time Jesus had been swiped from the church’s nativity scene, and if all works out it wouldn’t be the first time He has been returned, Smith said. The first time, years ago, Jesus mysteriously reappeared in the nativity scene on Christmas morning.
The last time, a few years back, baby Jesus vanished for good. A parishioner ended up ordering a new, hand-painted figure of the young Prince of Peace from Italy and donated it to the church as a replacement.
Before the nativity scene was put on display a few weeks ago, in mid-December, Smith and some church members discussed ways to prevent theft. The nativity scene itself is bolted down, but the Italian baby Jesus is too fragile to be secured in a permanent fashion. While many ideas were proposed, the one that was implemented involved tying fishing line around the porcelain figure. That did not save the Savior; the fishing line was cut by the thief.
Smith said he expects there to be more discussion of nativity security ahead of 2016’s Christmas season. Should the Christ child not be returned, the church will also have to consider raising funds to buy a new one. The pastor said he wasn’t sure of the cost of a new porcelain baby Jesus, but said of the Italian-made model that was stolen, “I’m certain it’s not inexpensive.”
“We will look for ways next year,” to secure baby Jesus, he said, “but we don’t want to chain him in.”
Either way, said Smith, “it’s not going to sour our love of the community or our mission.”
Photo via Facebook
Prosecutor: Black Asked for Help Killing Wife — At a bond hearing Monday, prosecutors said that David Black asked a friend to help kill his wife in a classic case of domestic violence. Black was denied bond and will remain in jail, charged with killing his estranged wife Bonnie Black in their home near Pentagon City. The trial is set for Feb. 29. [WUSA 9]
One of the Worst Traffic Bottlenecks — Arlington has one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, according to the American Highway Users Alliance. I-395 between Washington Blvd and the GW Parkway ranked No. 26 on the list, wasting 1.1 million hours and 322,600 gallons of fuel annually. [WTOP]
TSA HQ Move May Be Delayed — The Transportation Security Administration’s headquarters may be staying in Pentagon City past 2017 after all. A judge has halted the TSA’s move to Alexandria in response to a protest of the lease bidding process by a losing bidder. [Government Executive]
Arlington GOP May Ditch Office — In order to save money, the Arlington County Republican Committee is considering giving up the $1,100 per month office it rents in the Dominion Arms apartment building. [InsideNova]
See Something, Type Something — Arlington County’s website has a “Homeland Security Tip Form,” for reporting “suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism” in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington County Police have arrested a suspect in the April 17 stabbing death of Aurora Highlands resident Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police arrested 46-year-old David Black, the victim’s ex-husband, earlier today following a grand jury indictment. He’s charged with first degree murder and burglary.
Last month police searched Black’s house — which was several blocks from his estranged wife’s home, where she was found dead — and removed bikes and other items as evidence. Speaking to television reporters at the time, neighbors said they were nervous to have Black still living in the community.
Bonnie Black was a psychologist who did contract work for the FBI. She was found stabbed to death after her young children were found wandering outside her home by a neighbor.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit and Tactical Unit have taken David Black, 46, of Arlington, VA, into custody pursuant to an indictment issued by a special investigative grand jury. These charges stem from the murder of his estranged wife, Bonnie Black which occurred on April 17, 2015 in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood of Arlington County. The indictment and subsequent bench warrant charges him with one count of first degree murder and one count of burglary while armed with the intent to commit a felony.
A neighbor discovered the victim’s two young children wandering outside of the home in the early morning hours of April 17, 2015. At 7:50 a.m., Arlington County Police responded to the 1100 block of 18th Street South where officers discovered the 42 year-old female victim deceased inside her residence.
A special investigative grand jury was convened by the Arlington County Circuit Court and heard evidence and testimony surrounding the murder of Bonnie Black. Today that grand jury returned an indictment against David Black and he was arrested without incident.
The event is being held tomorrow (Sept. 17) at the new Bob & Edith’s Diner at 539 23rd Street S., from 4-7 p.m.
“Coffee with a Cop has no agenda or speeches,” says a flyer for the event. “The event is a chance to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know the officers in your District.”
One possible topic of concern for neighbors: the as-yet unsolved murder of Bonnie Delgado Black in nearby Aurora Highlands. Black’s ex-husband’s house, also in Aurora Highlands, was searched by investigators two weeks ago but so far no arrests have been made in the case.
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police are executing a search warrant on the house of David Black, the ex-husband of murder victim Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police arrived at the house near Pentagon City early this morning, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Black was at the house at the time but has since left, and is so far not in custody and not charged with a crime, Sternbeck said.
“We have an active police presence at this time at David Black’s residence,” said Sternbeck. Police are searching for “potential items at the residence that could contain forensic evidence that can assist us in the investigation.”
Bonnie Black was found stabbed to death in her Aurora Highlands home the morning of April 17, after a neighbor saw her children wandering around outside the house. Black, who was 42, worked as a psychologist and did contract work for the FBI.
Bonnie Black’s ex-husband’s house is also in Aurora Highlands, several blocks away from the murder scene. Police this morning could be seen searching the ex-husband’s garage and removing two bikes, including one with a child carrier attached. The bikes were later taken away as evidence by police.
So far no one has been charged in the murder, a fact that has caused concern in the community. David Black remains a “person of interest” in the case, Sternbeck said.
“I’m very happy to see some action taking place,” neighbor Lynn Primo told reporters. “We’re all very concerned… this man continues to live here and the whole neighborhood believes he has something to do with [the murder].”
Primo said she has seen Black coming and going from the house, but has not observed any unusual activity.
The couple’s children are in the custody of Bonnie Black’s family, but David Black still has visitation rights, according to Sternbeck.
Update at 10:05 a.m. — The leak has been stopped, according to scanner traffic. Residents who had been evacuated are being allowed back into their homes.
The Arlington County Fire Department is on the scene of a large gas leak in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, near Pentagon City.
The leak was reported around 8:45 a.m. on S. Grant Street, between 18th and 19th Streets, a block from Arlington Fire Station No. 5.
Initial reports suggest a six-inch gas line below the street is actively leaking gas.
Washington Gas crews are on the scene and trying to figure out how to shut off the gas. Roads in the immediate vicinity are being shut down.
The Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks is a group of neighbors who say they’re trying to make parks in the neighborhood enjoyable for all ages. This means that the parks need to have a balance of open fields, athletic courts and playgrounds, said Kari Klaus, the president of the group.
“The perfect park is a balance,” Klaus said.
The two parks in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood are having trouble keeping the balance, Klaus said. Nelly Custis Park (701 S. Grant Street) is may be getting another playground and Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street) is under construction to build more courts.
The group was formed after the Aurora Highlands Civic Association (AHCA) began discussing the additional playground for the Nelly Custis Park and and differences arose between some residents and the association’s majority. The new playground would make three in a little over a block, Klaus said.
The park already has a playground and creating another one at the expense of open space went against the wishes of many neighbors, Klaus said. Despite the opposition, the civic association went forward with the plans to ask for the playground as a Neighborhood Conservation project.
“The civic association has not budged on the playground from our parks perspective,” Klaus said.
The Aurora Highlands neighborhood is age diverse, meaning there are families with young children, families with grown children, millennials and senior citizens. Adding a new playground would take away from the open space used by many of the neighbors, Klaus said.
“We still have a very adult-related neighborhood,” she said.
The civic association also had trouble communicating with the neighborhood, according to Klaus. There were notices about the plans in the beginning, but the advertisements stopped and neighbors felt left out of the process, she said.
“There was some effort in the beginning but somehow the notices were dropped,” she said.
Joel Nelson, president of AHCA, said he has yet to hear of the Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks and noted that the Nelly Custis Park playground is still being discussed.
“I’m not familiar with the group, but I know that our community greatly values the park as an important local resource,” Nelson said.
“There were two public meetings (March and April) with county staff to collect feedback from the community for improvements to the Nelly Custis Park via the Arlington County Neighborhood Conservation program,” Nelson said via email. “At our June AHCA meeting, we heard a few complaints (about county process and about as-yet-TBD details in the design phase of the project), so the project was put on hold pending additional community input (scheduled for two additional meetings with county staff in September).”
“Even though some neighbors use the recreational facilities it appears that they are primarily used by organized leagues and residents in other parts of Arlington County and even D.C.,” she said.
The group has reached out to the department and are working with the Arlington Parks Coalition to make sure parks stay age-diverse, Klaus said.
The group aims to have more trees added to the park and would like AHCA to help to build a dog park, which is part of the civic association’s master plan for parks, she said.
“Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks will work with the county on acknowledging these valuable park resources and benefits in the hopes of preserving the current limited green and tree covered parkland while working to reverse some of these programmed spaces to fulfill actual neighborhood needs and deficits,” according to the group’s website.
Klaus said the group has heard that Virginia Highlands Park is being considered as a site for a new elementary school, which is concerning because use of the park is only likely to increase with new development planned or under construction on the nearby Riverhouse and Metropolitan Park sites in Pentagon City.
“This area needs more green space to compensate for the density increases and the age-diverse population and we need to make sure that no more facilities or buildings go over our very limited park and green space that we have,” said Klaus.
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police will be holding a community meeting in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Wednesday to provide anxious residents information about the department’s investigation into the murder of 42-year-old Bonnie Delgado Black.
Police confirmed Monday that they’re investigating Black’s death — at her home on 18th Street S. — as a homicide, saying that the 42-year-old single mother of two was stabbed to death. No other new details about the crime or the murder weapon were released.
Investigators were back at the house this morning, processing evidence. There is still no suspect in the case, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, and Black’s ex-husband, who lives a few blocks away, is “fully cooperating with the police investigation.”
“We’re continuing to remain on scene with a 24/7 security detail,” Sternbeck said, “and officers continue to canvas the neighborhood.”
Black’s children, ages 3 and 5, have been placed in foster care, according to police.
The community meeting will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church (830 23rd Street S.) Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The police district commander, criminal investigations commander and acting police chief Jay Farr are among those expected to discuss the case. There will also be an open question-and-answer session with Chief Farr.
The meeting was arranged “to address the community safety concerns,” said Sternbeck.
“We were receiving a lot of inquiries from residents down there and we thought it would be appropriate to participate in this community discussion,” he said.
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Police are investigating what they’re describing as a “very suspicious death” inside a house on the 1100 block of 18th Street S., in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, two blocks from the RiverHouse apartment complex.
Police say a 42-year-old single mother was found dead inside the home this morning. So far, they’re not releasing any details about the manner of death.
Police were originally called to the house at 7:50 a.m., when a neighbor saw the woman’s children wandering around outside the house.
The woman had a 3-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, who are now in the custody of Child Protective Services, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Sternbeck said there had been a history of domestic violence at the residence, and that the woman had taken out a restraining order against a man who also lives in Arlington. Police are in contact with that man but he’s not currently in custody, according to Sternbeck.
Next of kin have been notified, police said.
Property records show that the house is owned by a woman named Bonnie Delgado. On Facebook, an Arlington resident by the same name, who matches a description given by a neighbor, appears to also have a young son and daughter.
Neighbors confirmed to NBC 4’s Pat Collins that Delgado — who was in the midst of a divorce but went by her married name, Dr. Bonnie Black, professionally — is the victim. She was a psychologist who did contract work for the FBI.
So far, police have not officially released the victim’s name. However, police have confirmed that Delgado’s ex-husband, who lived a few blocks away on 21st Street S., is being questioned at Arlington police headquarters. His truck was towed from the scene, NBC 4 reported. He has not yet been named a “person of interest” in the case.
Like other houses in the neighborhood, the trash cans had been pulled to the curb in front of the victim’s home. As a result of the investigation, solid waste collection has been postponed in the neighborhood until Monday, according to the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services. Police could earlier be seen searching trash cans in the area.
Streets around the murder scene are expected to remain cordoned off by police tape for much of the remainder of the day.
The last reported homicide in Arlington County was in December, in the Westover neighborhood.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending the Board approves a $1.83 million contract, with a $183,000 contingency, to replace the park’s six tennis courts, two tennis practice courts and two basketball courts. The money will also fund a new, junior half basketball court, new fencing, new “dark sky” lights for the courts and accessible parking improvements.
The improvements are part of the county’s ongoing effort to completely renovate the recreation facilities at Virginia Highlands (1600 S. Hayes Street), which are some of the busiest recreation areas in the county. Within the last 10 years, the synthetic turf field, playground, restrooms, athletic field lighting and spraygrounds have all been either renovated or constructed.
In addition to new tennis courts — which will replace existing courts that were recently resurfaced — the renovations call for new covered waiting areas outside the courts, along with a drinking fountain and an “information kiosk.”
The junior basketball court will replace the tennis practice courts to the south of the six tennis courts. The court was requested during public input meetings last fall. The community lamented that there was no basketball space to be used specifically by young children.
The basketball courts will be relocated to the north of the current courts.
“Several community members expressed concerns about the proximity of the existing basketball courts relative to the playground area,” county staff said in a report, explaining the relocation.
The remaining park features — the diamond field turf, picnic shelter, gazebo, petanque courts, and front plaza area — are proposed for renovation in 2016.
File photo (top). Image (bottom) via Arlington County.
Seven Dems Line Up to Replace Brink — Seven Democrats are running for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Del. Bob Brink, who’s heading to the McAuliffe administration. The candidates, who will compete in a firehouse primary on Sunday, made their pitch to members of the Arlington County Democratic Committee at its meeting in Ballston last night. Also last night, Brink thanked ACDC members for their support over his 17 years in office. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post, InsideNova]
O’Leary to Retire Monday — County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, also speaking at last night’s meeting of Arlington Democrats, formally announced his retirement. O’Leary, who has served more than 30 years as county treasurer, touted his record of reducing tax delinquency rates, increasing the county’s return on financial investments, and improving customer service. His deputy, Carla de la Pava, will be sworn in as interim treasurer after O’Leary submits his resignation Monday. [InsideNova, Blue Virginia]
Aurora Hills Babysitting Co-op Turns 50 — A babysitting co-op in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Babysitting is free in the co-op, which requires members to contribute by babysitting each other’s children. [Washington Post]
SoberRide Returns for July 4 — The Washington Regional Alcohol Program will offer free taxi rides on Independence Day tomorrow through its SoberRide program. Revelers can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride home from 10:00 p.m. on July 4 through 4:00 a.m., as long as the fare is under $30. [WRAP]
DCA Warns of Long Lines — The Fourth of July holiday is expected to result in longer lines and wait times at Reagan National Airport this weekend. The airport is advising travelers to arrive two hours early, especially during its “peak travel times… typically during the early morning (5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) and late afternoon (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.).” There may also be a mid-day peak from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Adding to the problems, the airport reports that some airlines are canceling flights due to Hurricane Arthur. [MWAA]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Arlington wasn’t immune from problems caused by this week’s heavy rains.
Among other rain-related issues, the water-saturated ground caused a tree to topple over onto power lines in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Thursday afternoon.
As a result of the felled tree, part of 17th Street S. was closed near S. Joyce Street, and we’re told parts of the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods lost power for a few hours.
Dominion Power cut the tree back off the lines but it’s still partially hanging over the sidewalk, according to neighborhood resident Jim Oliver.
Photos courtesy Jim Oliver
The Linden Resources “Miracle on 23rd Street Celebration” will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Linden office at 750 23rd Street S.
The event is free and open to the public, will include a Christmas tree lighting, a brass band and children’s activities, including photos with Santa.
The event will kick off with a vendor gift fair from local businesses and will feature “local dignitaries,” according to a press release.
Linden Resources, a company devoted to helping those with disabilities find employment opportunities, will also collect donations for its “Vets Ready2Work” program that helps place military veterans with disabilities with jobs.
Mandrake Summers didn’t set out to maintain a collection for 20 years when he started a competition with his friend in his senior year of high school — in 1992 — to see who could collect the most Pez dispensers.
The Aurora Highlands resident, who has been working in Arlington County’s Department of Aging and Disability since 2009, has amassed a collection of well over 1,000 Pez dispensers at this point.
“Partly, it’s a compulsion,” admitted Summers. “I can’t walk into a store, see a Pez dispenser that I don’t have, and not buy it.”
Summers, 37, cites two key advantages to his Pez dispenser collection, as compared to other types of collectables: It takes up very little space, and Pez dispensers are easy to find.
“If I were collecting antique gliders, that would be very problematic,” said Summers, whose hobby also persisted when he stationed in the Ivory Coast for the Peace Corps in 2000.
“I would keep an eye out but my post was pretty rural,” said Summers. He caught up on his collection when he returned stateside.
While he has told his coworkers about his hobby, Summers surmises that if he has gotten any notoriety for it, it’s because he posts his new acquisitions on his Facebook page. One friend told us that he likes the posts because many of the photos bring back nostalgic childhood memories.
Summers owns a number of books on Pez that he uses as field guides, and he is part of an internet community of what he estimates to be approximately 100 or so forum members, who exchange information about new finds and reliable vendors.
Asked if he has any advice for would-be collectors, Summers said: “I guess I would say collect something that’s small because if you collect large items, they’ll quickly take over your house. Decide early on what you want to collect and sort of just commit to that.”
For those who take up Pez collections, Summers has more specific advice.
“My recommendation for anyone who’d want to start, is to go out to stores that are selling Pez dispensers and just buy as many different dispensers as you can, he said. “You can start there and within a few months you can probably get 30 or 40 dispensers without having to go on eBay.”
As for whether he developed a sweet tooth via his Pez collection, Summers says he doesn’t actually eat the candy — he gives it to his stepson.
Aurora Highlands will get a little brighter tonight, during the annual “Miracle on 23rd Street” holiday celebration.
Linden Resources, Inc. is hosting the holiday festivies including a Christmas tree lighting and holiday music. Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive on an Arlington fire truck.
The event is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Linden Resources building (750 S. 23rd Street). In addition to the outdoor activities, guests are invited to take part in multi-cultural children’s activities inside the building.
Linden Resources employs and provides job placement for adults with intellectual, physical and mental health disabilities.