4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Biggest murder conviction: Louisa black widow Ulisa Chavers, 62, enters an Alford plea to first-degree murder December 15 in the death of her boyfriend, Reginal Cody Bowles, whose body was found in a well. She's sentenced to 30 years in prison, and also is charged with killing her second husband in Amelia County 15 years ago. 

Biggest Santa: Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation and Dave Matthews Band-funded BAMA Works distribute $536K to 66 area nonprofits, including $10K to Quest Institute's Books Behind Bars and $10K to send the Charlottesville High Orchestra to Florence, Italy, to perform in a festival.

Biggest Santa to W&L: Roger Mudd writes a check for $4 million to his alma mater, Washington and Lee University, for an ethics center.

Biggest Santas to Robert Hurt? U.S. Representative-elect Hurt received more than $127,000 from financial, insurance and real estate companies. He's been named to the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the financial industry. Brian McNeill has the story in the Daily Progress.

Longest rape sentence: Mark Dwayne Bishop gets 27 years December 14 for the rape and aggravated sexual battery of a 13-year-old girl between January and July 2008 in a shed at Carlton Mobile Home Park, Tasha Kates reports in the DP. Bishop, 34, says he didn't do it, and DNA taken from the shed doesn't match him or the girl.

Longest B&E sentence: Minel Michael Fific, 19, gets seven years in prison for nine home break-ins between January and March, and 40 years of good behavior, according to the Progress. Fific was accused of being part of a fence operating out of a local restaurant. Also charged are Kimberlee Ann Bell, Brittney Jean Williams, Alfredo J. Alvarado, and a 17-year-old.

Most bizarre B&E: A homeowner finds a man inside the residence on tony Bloomfield Road around 9:30am December 10. The suspect's identity has not been released, and police say charges are pending.

Most larcenies: Since November 1, Albemarle police have taken reports on 101 car break-ins, and seen a 12 percent increase in such crimes compared to year-to-date 2009. 

Worst mailbox bombing attempts: Two incendiary soda bottles are found December 15 in Carrsbrook and on Powell Creek Drive. One failed to explode, and officials caution that if picked up, they could explode.

Worst gunplay: Several shots are fired into an occupied vehicle around 5am December 16 at Earlysville and Hydraulic roads. No injuries were reported. Arrested are Derrell Daniel, 23, of Mineral; Donte Johnson, 21,  of Louisa, and Brent Holland, 28, of Richmond. All three are charged with attempted first degree murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Happiest ending in Roanoke: Missing girl Brittany Mae Smith, 12, returns home after turning up in San Francisco. She was last seen December 3 on a Walmart surveillance video with her alleged abductor, Jeffrey Scott Easley, 32. Smith's mother and Easley's girlfriend, Tina Smith, was found dead in their home last week.

Newest Albemarle parks and rec director: Deputy director Bob Crickenberger, a 36-year veteran of the department, is named director effective January 1. He succeeds Pat Mullaney, who is retiring.

Newest county water board member: Nature Conservancy conservation programs director Bill Kittrell is named to fill the White Hall seat on the Albemarle County Service Authority vacated by dam/pipeline advocate John Martin.

Strangest bedfellows: The Free Enterprise Forum, Nature Conservancy, Chamber of Commerce, Piedmont Environmental Council, and League of Women Voters hold a press conference to voice support for building a big dam in the Ragged Mountain Natural Area and a nine-mile pipeline from the Rivanna Reservoir.

Best sidelight: The PEC rep, Jeff Werner, spends much of the press conference yelling at the Hook editor.