Charlottesville Breaking News

Survivor's end: Bradley dies 54 years past Piedmont plane crash

The sole survivor of one of the most perplexing air crashes in American history and a celebrated visitor to the Crozet area, where he would memorialize the last flight of Piedmont #349, Ernest Philip "Phil" Bradley, has died after a short illness.

According to his son, the 87-year-old native of Clifton Forge lost a six-week battle with pancreatic cancer and died August 23 at a hospice near his home in Monroe, North Carolina.

It was a foggy night in Central Virginia nearly 54 years ago that sealed this name in the annals of aviation. A union organizer who'd spent the week in Oklahoma for the International Association of Machinists, Bradley missed his original Friday flight due to a late connection– but snagged the last seat on a regularly scheduled flight from Washington to Roanoke. By 9pm, the plane, a twin-engined DC-3, was overdue for its stop in Charlottesville.

The October 30, 1959 incident launched what was widely described as the era's greatest search-and-rescue operation, as teams of h...

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No bond: Abduction suspect to stay behind bars

The man accused of abducting 17-year-old Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy will stay behind bars, a judge ruled Thursday, August 22, in Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations court.

Earlier in the week, Judge A. Ellen White ruled that the bond hearing for Randy Allen Taylor would be closed to the public and media, but immediately before the 1pm bond hearing, she granted a media motion by attorney Craig Merritt, representing WDBJ in Roanoke, WWBT and WTVR in Richmond, and the Newsplex, to open the hearing to the public, agreeing with Merritt that the only time the courtroom should be closed was during the presentation of "sensitive" evidence from the prosecution.

"Things have been revealed, some confirmed yesterday, that could seriously jeopardize [Taylor's] right to a fair trial," countered Nelson Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin.

Arguing for his client's release, Taylor's defense attorney, Charlottesville-based Mike Hallahan, presented the court with a photo of the mystery man who Taylor says left his property with Murphy on August 3, the night she disappeared, after allegedly selling Taylor $60 of marijuana. The photo was not visible to the public in attendance, and Hallahan did not speak the man's name, but told the judge it was known to investigators.

Taylor "has identified him as an adult who has seen Alexis since he has seen Alexis," said Hallahan.

Following the presentation of the prosecution's evidence...

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'The Birds': Tippi to tell all at Virginia Film Festival

A movie that terrified a generation will screen again on its 50th anniversary at the Virginia Film Festival, which is bringing Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and its star, Tippi Hedren, to Charlottesville.

Hedren, 83, made her film debut in The Birds after being spotted by Hitchcock in a commercial for Sego, the SlimFast of its day. Of his six blonde leading ladies, a roster that included Grace Kelly and Kim Novak, Hedren had perhaps the most troubled relationship with the director, and went public about the perils of being the object of his desire.

“Tippi Hedren is a fascinating actress, who will offer audiences unmatched insight into one of the most terrifying films and iconic directors in Hollywood history,” says Jody Kielbasa, film fest director and UVA vice provost for the arts.

The 26th Virginia Film Festival runs November 7-10. The Birds will screen Friday, November 8, and Hedren will discuss the movie— and dish about Hitch— afterward.

Hedren's appearance is the first announcement of this year's line-up from Kielbasa, who spends September scoring new releases for a regional premiere.

In other breaking film festival news, the Family Day program will move from the Downtown Mall to the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds at UVA.

More to come in October.

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Angry probationer: Kroboth back in jail

The man convicted of the attempted murder of his wife while wearing a vampire mask on Halloween in 2004 has decided he wants to be released from supervised probation in Arizona, according to court documents. And that quest for independence has landed him back in the slammer in Charlottesville for the second time this year.

Former financier Kurt Kroboth got into trouble with his probation officers earlier this year when he filed paperwork for a trip from his current residence in Green Valley, Arizona, to San Francisco and took an unannounced detour to Eugene, Oregon, to see his son, who reported him to police.

That excursion earned him six months for a probation violation. Kroboth was sentenced to seven year...

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Close call: Wrong-way on interstate prompts reckless charge

An evening out with a friend in Crozet ended with a close call for a Charlottesville traveler headed eastbound on I-64 on Saturday night, August 3, after encountering another driver going the wrong way on the interstate.

"I see these headlights coming toward me," says Belmont resident Jenny Mead, who didn't realize what was happening until the other vehicle had passed. 

"Fortunately, it was in the other lane— the passing lane," says Mead, who quickly exited the highway and called 911.

"They told me there had been many calls," she says. Shaken by the close call with a possible high-speed, head-on collision, she attempted for several days to find out the circumstances behind the wrong-way driver.

"I couldn't get any answers," she says.

According to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, the driver of the wrong-way white, 2004 Kia was 84-year-old Albemarle County resident Frances Shisler, who entered the interstate at the Shadwell exit and continued on against the flow of traffic for six miles until she was stopped by police at exit 118.

"I realized as soon as I did it," said Shisler, reached by phone. She said she'd been to the Moose Lodge east of Charlottesville and explained that she continued driving west even as 70-mph traffic rushed toward her because "there was no place to turn around."

"I've been driving since I was 10 years old, and this is my first ticket," said an irate Shisler, noting that no driv...

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