Sentencing in Arlington Cold Case — “A Virginia cold case closed Thursday as Jose Rodriguez-Cruz was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Stafford County for the killing of his wife. Marta Rodriguez went missing from Arlington in 1989, when her son, Hansel Rodriguez, was just four years old… ‘It almost felt like I was able to breathe for the first time in many years,’ said Hansel, now 36.” [NBC 4]
Wheel Theft Spree Along Columbia Pike — “On April 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. The investigations determined that between 6:30 p.m. on April 6 and 7:35 a.m. April 7, the suspect(s) removed all four tires and rims from the four victim vehicles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]
DCA Traveler Traffic Recovering — “The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that passenger originations at Reagan National were down 68.9 percent in March compared to the pre-pandemic March 2019. In a way, that’s positive news – Reagan National typically has been down 80 percent even as airports in other parts of the country have started to see rebounds.” [Sun Gazette]
ACFD Salutes Fallen Officer — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “[On Wednesday] we detailed crews along the I-66 overpasses to salute fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Billy Evans as his procession passed through @ArlingtonVA. Doing this twice within a few months hurts. We’re keeping Officer Evan’s family and the USCP in our thoughts & prayers.” [Twitter]
Firefighters Push for Higher Pay — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Brian Lynch, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (APFPA), called on the Arlington County Board Tuesday to implement a pay increase for county firefighters when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. ‘Being firefighters has always meant risking our lives for others,’ Lynch said, during a Tuesday night public hearing.” [Patch]
Arlington County Police say Michael F. Thompson, who is now 63 and a resident of Virginia’s Northern Neck region, used a gun to rape at least two women near the East Falls Church Metro station. He was linked to the cases after a reexamination of evidence, including DNA evidence, that ACPD’s Cold Case Unit initiated in 2017.
Thompson was identified as the suspect due to “forensic evidence combined with thorough investigative efforts,” and was arrested at his home on Tuesday morning, according to police.
ACPD is now asking anyone with additional information about the nearly 30-year-old cases to step forward.
More from a police press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect in a cold case rape series. Michael F. Thomson, 63, of Montross, VA, was arrested and charged with two counts of the following charges: Rape, Abduction with the Intent to Defile, Forcible Sodomy and Use/Display of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony. Additional charges are anticipated. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.
Between January and December 1991, Arlington County Police investigated multiple reports of rapes and attempted rapes involving female victims walking from the East Falls Church Metro Station. In each reported incident, the victims were approached by an unknown male who displayed a firearm. Three cases were linked by DNA evidence with a fourth case being investigated as part of the series due to similarities with the other cases.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. on January 17, 1991, the female victim was walking home from the East Falls Church Metro in the 4800 block of Little Falls Road when an unknown male suspect approached her, brandished a firearm and forced her into a grassy area between two homes. The suspect raped the victim before fleeing the scene on foot.
At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 13, 1991, the female victim was walking from the East Falls Church Metro to her parked vehicle in the 2300 block of N. Tuckahoe Street when she observed the unknown male suspect walking towards her. The suspect brandished a firearm, forced the victim to the side of a residence where he raped her before fleeing the scene on foot.
At approximately 10:00 p.m. on March 6, 1991, the female victim was walking home from the East Falls Church Metro in the 6300 block of Lee Highway when she was approached by an unknown male who alleged to have a firearm. The suspect forced the victim to the back of a nearby residence and directed her to remove her clothing. The suspect placed the firearm to her head and told her to be quiet. The suspect then asked the victim if she wanted him to leave and when she said yes, he fled the scene on foot.
At approximately 7:08 p.m. on December 2, 1991, the female victim was walking from the East Falls Church Metro to her parked vehicle in the 6100 block of N. 22nd Street when she was approached by an unknown male suspect brandishing a firearm. When the victim screamed, the suspect ran away and fled from the scene in a vehicle. As the suspect was fleeing, he dropped the baseball hat he was wearing. DNA from the baseball hat was later linked to DNA recovered in the January 17 and February 13 incidents.
In 2017, the Cold Case Unit initiated a fresh look at these unsolved cases including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The DNA was resubmitted for additional analysis including phenotyping and genetic genealogy. The analysis resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Michael Francis Thomson as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence combined with thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the 1991 incidents. He was taken into custody without incident at his residence on the morning of December 1, 2020.
This remain an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this series is asked to contact Detective R. Ortiz at 703-228-4702 or [email protected] Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
The evacuation comes amid frigid temperatures below 20 degrees.
Arlington County firefighters are investigating the smoke and believe it may be the result of a mechanical issue, according to scanner traffic. Police are blocking off streets due to the fire department response.
Those evacuated from the building are expected to be let back in soon.
FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]
‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]
ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]
Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]
Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]
ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]
Texas Murder Suspect Arrested in Arlington — A suspected MS-13 gang member, wanted for two Houston-area homicides, was arrested in Arlington on Saturday. Twenty-year-old Douglas Alexander Herrera-Hernandez, also known as “Terror,” was taken into custody while walking near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. [Fox 5, WTOP]
Family of Murder Victim Donates Reward Funds — The family of an Iraq war vet shot to death in front of the Pentagon Row shopping center in 2006 has donated $5,000 in unclaimed reward money to Arlington Crime Solvers. “Despite an intensive investigation, a suspect and motive have not been identified,” said Arlington County Police. “This case remains an active cold case investigation.” [NBC Washington, WJLA, Twitter]
Some Arlingtonians Pay to Attend D.C. Public Schools — A handful of Arlington residents pay tuition for their children to attend D.C. public schools. Most are paying for enrollment in the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington. Arlington, which is still facing a school capacity crunch, does not allow nonresident students as does D.C., Fairfax County and Montgomery County. [Washington Post]
APS May Buy Home Next to Glebe Elementary — The Arlington School Board is considering buying a home next to Glebe Elementary School for $525,000 to provide emergency vehicles another point of access to the school. The home was recently sold to an investment firm for just over $400,000 this past January. [InsideNova]
Explanation for Low-Flying Helicopter — If you spotted a helicopter making low passes over Arlington this past weekend, it might have for a survey by the National Nuclear Security Administration “to measure naturally occurring background radiation.” [Twitter, National Nuclear Security Administration]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Ludvin Estrada, 41, was convicted of killing 27-year-old Eva Veliz on May 11, 1999. Police found Veliz dead inside the trunk of a car parked on the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street.
The pair were seen leaving together, after a night out, at approximately 2:45 a.m. on the day of the murder. At some point, the pair started arguing and Estrada strangled Veliz to death, prosecutors say.
Estrada then immediately fled to Guatemala.
Police issued a warrant for Estrada’s arrest, but were unable to find him in Guatemala. The Arlington County Police Department’s cold case unit took over the case in 2012.
A combination of case files, laboratory results and evidence from the crime scene led law enforcement authorities to Estrada in September 2016. He was then extradited to the United States.
More from ACPD:
A man who fled to Guatemala following the 1999 murder of Eva Veliz in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood of Arlington County was sentenced in the Arlington County Circuit Court on Friday, March 17, 2017. Judge Daniel Fiore imposed the maximum judgement permitted by the plea agreement and sentenced Ludvin Estrada, 41, to forty-five years in prison.
On May 11, 1999, at approximately 4:33 p.m., Arlington County Police responded to the report of a 27-year-old female victim located deceased inside the trunk of a vehicle parked in the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street. The investigation revealed that on the evening prior the victim, Eva Veliz, and the subject, Ludvin Estrada, had been out dancing and were seen leaving together at approximately 2:45 a.m. on May 11, 1999. At some point during the evening, a verbal altercation ensued between the two and the subject strangled the victim causing her death. Estrada immediately fled to Guatemala.
A warrant was issued for Estrada in 1999 but efforts to locate him in Guatemala were unsuccessful. In 2012, the case was assigned to the Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. Through a review of the case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results detectives located additional information that verified Estrada’s involvement in the murder.
In September 2016, following a joint investigation by the Arlington County Police Department, the United States Department of State, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the United States Marshals Service and Guatemalan Law Enforcement, Estrada was extradited to the United States to face charges in the 1999 murder of Eva Veliz.
“Today’s sentence is the culmination of years of dogged work and perseverance by Arlington’s law enforcement community. A special thank you goes to Detective Rosa Ortiz who never, ever forgot about our victim. Together with two dedicated prosecutors, Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys’ Stephanie Siegel and Lindsay Brooker, this defendant was finally brought to justice.” said Theo Stamos, Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “More than a decade ago, Eva Veliz was taken from her loving family in a senseless act of domestic violence. While this case was never a whodunit, Ludvin Estrada’s decision to flee the country made this investigation much more complex. This case demonstrates our commitment to pursue cases, no matter how much time has passed. The message to criminals and the families of the victims is clear — Arlington County will not waver in our commitment to investigate and prosecute cold case homicides.”
Ludvin Estrada, now 46, arrived back in the U.S. today and is being held at the Arlington County jail, according to a police press release. Estrada fled to Guatemala after the May 11, 1999 murder, police say, and was able to elude capture until this past April.
“The apprehension of Estrada is the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources from our federal and international partners,” Arlington County Police said in a press release.
The rest of the press release is below.
Following a joint investigation by the Arlington County Police Department, the United States Department of State, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the United States Marshals Service and Guatemalan Law Enforcement, a subject wanted in the 1999 murder of Eva Veliz has been taken into custody in Guatemala and extradited to the United States. Ludvin Estrada, 46, arrived in the United States on Friday, September 9, 2016 and is currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility charged with murder.
On May 11, 1999, at approximately 4:33 p.m., Arlington County Police responded to the report of a 27-year-old female victim located deceased inside the trunk of a vehicle parked in the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street. The investigation revealed that on the evening prior, the victim and the subject had been out dancing and were seen leaving together at approximately 2:45 a.m. on May 11, 1999. At some point, a verbal altercation ensued between the two and the subject strangled the victim causing her death. Estrada immediately fled to Guatemala where he remained until his capture in 2016.
A warrant was issued for Estrada in 1999 but efforts to locate him in Guatemala were unsuccessful. In 2012, the case was assigned to the Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. Through a review of the case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results detectives located additional information that verified Estrada’s involvement in the death of Eva Veliz. Efforts to locate and apprehend Estrada were resumed and he was taken into custody on April 11, 2016.
Some Receiving Duplicate Tax Bills — A large number of Arlington homeowners have received duplicate tax bills from the county. “As you can imagine, we have heard from many concerned taxpayers today,” Treasurer Carla de la Pava told the Sun Gazette. [InsideNova]
Brutal Beating Still Unsolved — The 1965 beating of a 19-year-old woman in her Rosslyn area apartment is still an unsolved, open case. The woman, Brenda Sue Pennington, survived but never fully recovered, living in a nursing home and depending on Medicare until her death in 2007. [Falls Church News-Press]
Beyer Questions New Social Security Requirement — Those who want to access their Social Security information online now must have a text-enabled cell phone as part of a new security measure. That has led to protests from seniors who don’t own a cell phone — and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) agrees with them, saying they “deserve the convenience of checking their earnings and benefits online.” [Patch]
Medium Unsure If TV Series Will Live On — Monica Ten-Kate, the TV medium who communes with dead people and whose family lives in Fairlington, says in an interview that she’s not sure whether her cable TV reality series will be renewed for a third season. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
(Updated at 4 p.m.) A Woodbridge man has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a Lyon Park woman last month.
The sexual assault was linked via evidence to two attempted abductions in Arlington in 2007, according to Arlington County Police. A renewed investigation into those cold cases led to the arrest of 34-year-old Justin Poe.
Poe has not yet been charged in the May sexual assault.
“We are awaiting additional evidence and additional charges are expected related to the 2016 case,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a 34 year-old suspect with two counts of attempted abduction for his role in attacks stemming from 2007. Justin Wingate Poe, 34, of Woodbridge, VA is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are expected.
At approximately 4:56 a.m. on May 15, 2016 a female victim awoke in her residence in the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street to an unknown male sexually assaulting her. Following the attack, the male suspect fled the scene and the victim was able to contact 911. DNA evidence recovered from this assault was submitted to the state laboratory for analysis. The DNA results linked this case with an unsolved 2007 attempted abduction in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street.
At approximately 2:27 a.m. on May 28, 2007 a female victim was walking in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street when an unknown male suspect confronted her from behind and attempted to cover her face with a plastic bag. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the area on foot. The plastic bag was processed for evidence and a latent fingerprint was recovered.
An additional attack occurred on June 7, 2007 at approximately 1:20 a.m. when a female victim inside her residence in the 2600 block of Lee Highway heard a knock on her door. When she opened the door, an unknown male subject standing against the wall just outside the door attempted to place a plastic bag over the victim’s head. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect to police and a composite sketch was released to the public.
Upon receiving the link between the 2007 and 2016 cases, Arlington County Police Department detectives began an intensive investigation including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The review led to additional information that led detectives to identify Justin Wingate Poe as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence and thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the incidents in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street and the 2600 block of Lee Highway.
Officers from the Arlington County Police Department’s Tactical Unit and the Prince William County Police Department took Poe into custody at his residence in Woodbridge, VA in the evening hours of June 17, 2016. Poe has been charged with two counts of attempted abduction. Additional charges are expected. The apprehension of Poe was the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources from our regional law enforcement partners.
The investigation into Poe is ongoing. Anyone who has information regarding these incidents or concerning Poe is asked to call Detective Sloan at 703.228.4198 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department does not have new leads for any of its 22 cold cases, some of which date back to 1970, but is an the lookout for new tips and evidence.
The oldest cold case in ACPD’s files is the murder of Maria Currier, 23, from 1970. Currier was found strangled in her bedroom on 100 block of N. Columbus Street on Jan. 8, 1970.
There are two other cold cases from 1970 — Rene Karam, who was strangled in March 1970, and Frank Shipley, who died under unusual circumstances in May 1970.
Shipley and his wife returned home to find a burglar in their house. Shipley suffered a heart attack while complying with the burglar’s demands.
The suspect was described as “a white male in his 20s, approximately 5″8′ tall with a slight build and dark-brown or black wavy hair,” according to the ACPD’s cold case website.
There were 10 deaths between 1970 and 1975 that remain unsolved — three in 1970, two in 1971, three in 1974 and two in 1975. The deaths of the 12 other cold case victims occurred between 1986 and 2006, with two deaths in 1988.
One of the 1988 unsolved cases is 38-year-old Constance Holtzman, who was shot and killed on Nov. 9, 1988. She was found in her bedroom on the 4400 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. Police still do not have a suspect description.
The most recent cold case is nearly 10 years old. Paul Matthew Zeller was killed while walking near the Pentagon Row shopping center in 2006, according to ACPD.
On the night of his murder, Zeller stopped at a grocery store before heading to his Aurora Highlands home, according to detectives. Police found the 24-year-old Iraq war veteran shot on the 1300 block of S. Joyce Street, after receiving 911 calls shortly after midnight. There is a reward of up to $10,000 for any information on that case.
The cold case squad is also working on the 2012 double homicide in Hall’s Hill, where two men were found in an apartment on N. Culpeper Street. The case is not technically considered a “cold case” because it is still actively being worked, said Det. Rosa Ortiz.
“I do have several leads that are good leads,” Ortiz said. She declined further comment.
Ortiz heads the cold case squad and has been the lead detective in some of the police department’s most high-profile solved cases, including the Carl Diener murder and a 25-year-old rape case that was solved last year.
Anyone with information on any cold case or recent crime can call the ACPD Tip Line at 703-228-4242 or the Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
“Any new information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could help detectives solve this case and bring the victim’s family some closure,” the cold case website says.
The Arlington County detectives have solved and obtained a conviction in a decades-old rape case thanks to new DNA technology, according to a report by TV station WUSA9.
The crime happened in January 1992, when a 25-year-old grad student answered a knock at her door, in an Arlington apartment building. The man at the door, dressed as a maintenance worker, drew a gun and proceeded to rape her.
Veteran detectives Rosa Ortiz and Bob Icolari, who have been working to solve long-cold rape cases, resubmitted a small amount DNA evidence from the case to the state crime lab, which was able to find a match thanks to new technology. The suspect — Stevie Brinson, 55 — confessed and was sentenced to life in prison, WUSA reported.
WUSA9’s report (note: video automatically plays), after the jump.