Charlottesville Breaking News

Taylor's encounters: Aquaintances recall abduction suspect as hearing looms

As accused kidnapper Randy Allen Taylor sits in jail issuing protestations of innocence through his attorney, one former friend says the 48-year-old Lovingston resident has a history of getting into trouble— and then getting out of it.

"He's a very smart individual; he knows how to play the system," says the former friend, who spoke with the Hook on condition of anonymity, and who spent time with Taylor in the late '90s and early 2000s.

After hanging out with Taylor for six months, the former friend says, it seemed to him "there was something off with Randy. Everything was always someone else's fault."

In 2004, according to Albemarle County District Court records, Taylor faced a number of charges, but despite pleading guilty to arson for the 2002 torching of a Dodge Ram conversion van, he served no time.

Also in 2004, Taylor was charged with brandishing a weapon and stalking, and an unrelated charge of curse and abuse.

"A white man driving a red Toyota followed me to the corner of Georgetown Road and Hydraulic Road then pulled a black pistol out and pointed it," wrote an Albemarle County man in an August 21, 2004, criminal complaint in Albemarle County General District Court describing an alleged encounter from the previous night. "I saw him again today," writes the man in that complaint.

Taylor, who lived on Georgetown Road at the time, was found not guilty of the charges of brandishing a weapon...

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Get Out! events, shows, things to do

Beauty and femininity are ageless and can't be contrived, and glamour, although the manufacturers won't like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamour; it's based on femininity. - Marilyn Monroe

Vaudeville vixens come to Charlottesville

Nuit de Fantaisie is The Jefferson's first classic burlesque and vaudeville showcase, presented by Richmond's number one voted burlesque performer, Deanna Danger. Audiences will travel back in time to the stage days of voluptuous vixens decked out head-to-toe in luxurious costumes and clean-cut gents who will charm the socks off you with their larger-than-life performances. There's going to be a variety of music, dancing, comedy,  and acting on this glamorous evening that benefits the Moulin Rouge music hall in Paris.

Danger, surely her stage name, describes burlesque as the art of striptease. "It is risque, it is adult-oriented, but it isn't just about 'the goods' as is the case with contemporary strip clubs. It's an art form...that builds anticipation to the big reveal but never gives it all away." An Orlando native and aka "The Warrior of Burlesque," Danger is a skilled performance artist based out of Richmond, who incorporates props such as swords, knives and aerial...

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Resources for identifying the bad guys

I am writing today to thank you for publishing the thoughtful and well-written essay, “Charm: A pedophile's secret weapon” [July 25 issue] by Janis Jaquith. Seeing this essay in the Hook was much appreciated, as it most certainly helped to increase awareness of this serious issue.

The author noted that the case she discussed took place outside of Virginia, and she wondered “how many single mothers, here and elsewhere, are dealing with this.” Unfortunately, the sexual, physical, mental, and medical abuse of children is more prevalent in Virginia and in our community/county than most people may realize.

The author also asked the question: “How are we to discern the good guys from the bad guys?” The good news is that there are resources available locally to help concerned parents, grandparents, and othersbto prevent and stop child abuse. The Foothills Child Advocacy Center (1106 East High Street) offers Stewards of Children, a free training
program that empowers adults to protect children.  The next public training is at 9am Friday, August 30, at the Albemarle County Office Building, 1600 Fifth Street, and people can contact our office to register. We also provide trainings for organizations and groups upon request.

We were established in 2006 as a not-for-profit, accredited agency designed to provide a coordinated system of effective...

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Alibi redux: Taylor points the finger again

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.

Now, nearly...

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Full steam ahead: New train guide hits all the stops

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...

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