Charlottesville Breaking News
Ten months after he told the Hook he was the victim of an overzealous investigation into missing Orange County teen Samantha Clarke, Randy Allen Taylor seems to be planning a similar defense in the disappearance of 17-year-old Nelson County resident Alexis Murphy. But while authorities on the case are keeping mum, the former lead investigator in the Morgan Harrington case isn't buying the story.
"I don't believe in coincidences," says retired Virginia State Police Lt. Joe Rader, who was the public face of the Harrington investigation after the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student vanished in October 2009 and her remains were discovered on an Albemarle County farm three months later in January 2010.
Indeed, the similarities between Taylor's version of events the night 19-year-old Samantha Clarke disappeared in September 2010— when he called her multiple times, he told the Hook in an interview last October— and his story about his encounter with Murphy on August 3, if true, would be a stunning coincidence.
In the Clarke case, Taylor, now 48, insisted he'd been placing those calls simply to warn Clarke that he'd heard threats made against her by people they knew in common. He'd been home with his young son that night, he said, and had had no contact with her beyond those calls.
Can't get enough trains? With the foldable illustrated map, Rail USA: Museums and Trips, Eastern States, rail buffs have a guide of everything train from museums, steam train rides and historic sites to trolley rides, scenic railroads and train exhibits at their fingertips— more than 300 of them on the East Coast alone.
Written by former Charlottesville resident Eric Riback, the map began as a manifestation of his own fascination. “I’ve always had an interest in railroads,” says Riback, author of the guide and president of Bella Terra Publishing, who now lives in the Hudson Valley in New York. “I grew up in New York and rode the subways— that's how you got around— but by the time I was a teenager my friend and I just liked to ride trains for the interest of it.
"There was some mild prankish behavior," Riback laughs. "My friend had a telephone, one of the old black ones, and he had it rigged so he could make it ring. This was 30 years before cell phones and he would pull it out of his rucksack and then hand it to someone on the train, saying, 'It's for you.'"
Riback lived in Charlottesville for 10 years before moving out to Denver to work for National Geographic. When he and his wife and business partner, Bella Stander, decided to strike out on their own, they moved back to New York where they have resided for almost three years.
"We bought a company that published maps and guides to lighthouses," Riback says. "And w...
By Hilary Holladay
The Virginia countryside has its own sounds and rhythms. In Orange County, where I’ve recently moved after five years in Charlottesville, I’m used to the cicadas, the cry of the foxes, the tap-tap of rain on the tin roof. The other evening, though, I heard something that made me pause: light footsteps on the porch, snuffling, a bit of exploring. I wasn’t scared, but since I had seen a bear up in the mountains the week before, I wasn’t going to take any chances.
The porch light revealed a sturdy black Labrador. Sleek, muscular, and irresistibly friendly, she padded around the porch as if she owned the place. We visited for a while and then I brought her a bowl of water. She was a guest, and it was the least I could do. I had reason to believe she belonged to a family several fields away, though she wore no collar. Surely she would go home on her own.
Later that night, I sat reading in my favorite chair. The cats had retreated upstairs and I was alone, or so I thought. On the other side of the screen window I noticed the faint glint of the dog’s brown eyes. Her fur was so dark that she was all of a piece with the summer night, except for those eyes. Unselfconscious, affectionate, they floated in space.
In moments such as those, time stops: the day’s small miseries slip away. I was watching an invisible dog watch me. Through such a looking glass I would gladly step more often.
The next morning...
By Richard Roper
Jodie Foster delivers an unbelievably terrible performance in Elysium.
Maybe the worst acting ever done by a two-time Oscar winner.
A performance so awful I found myself keenly anticipating Foster's next scene to see if she would keep on bringing the dreadful.
I say this as a HUGE fan of Jodie Foster. I'm telling you, it's amazing how bad she is in this movie.
And how little it mattered in the grand, rabidly schizoid scheme of things.
The Summer of Futuristic Doom continues with Elysium, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, who showed such great promise with the claptrap minor classic District 9 and announces himself here as an "event" filmmaker— that rare breed whose very name preceding a title should inspire smiles of anticipation.
Set in a predictably dystopian future (for most of the film, the year is 2154), Elysium tells us Earth has become a vast wasteland of pollution and corruption, with the .001 percent having fled to a utopian space station that hovers above the planet like a second, heavenly, taunting moon.
Elysium is like a giant high-class suburban enclave, with the added benefit of nifty machines that can cure just about anything that ails you. (Lost opportunity: Blomkamp gives us only glimpses of...