Charlottesville Breaking News

Broken beauty: The lofty life and tragic death of Linda Doig

"She had further to fall than I did," says the wiry, bearded man, gesturing to his companion on a beat-up sofa. Next to him sits a tall but weathered blond who nods in agreement and asks the man to retrieve a magazine page from the tent they're sharing downtown during the waning days of the Occupy Charlottesville movement.

The picture– a Miss Clairol ad from the mid-'80s– features an exquisite blond, arm around a young girl with matching flaxen locks, and the slogan that launched a thousand home dye jobs: "Does she or doesn't she?"

"That's me," says the woman as she tearfully begins recounting a devastating arc that followed her jet-set life of modeling in New York, Paris, and Milan to the grim reality of homelessness in Charlottesville.

"I had nowhere else to go," the woman, Linda Doig, says softly of her decision to camp out in Lee Park.

"Someone had to take care of her," says the man.

Friends and family say theirs was a toxic relationship at best.

Two weeks earlier and 3,000 miles away, a salesman in California named Rusty Bracho felt desperately worried. In mid-November, having seen Doig's name in a brief online news item, Bracho phoned the Hook.

"She's going to be dead soon if I can't find her," he told a reporter, pleading for help locating his friend.

Less than a month later, Bracho's grim premonition was realized, as the body of the 51-year-old former international model was removed from a...

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Keeping faith: Big baseball film to shoot here this summer

Spielberg's Lincoln may have headed back to the West Coast, but starting this summer, there'll be another major motion picture on location in Central Virginia. It's The Home Game, which borrows some of the formula that made the recent Courageous, with over $33 million in box office, so successful.

For starters, they've got one of the stars of that faith-based feature on board, Robert Amaya, as the sidekick to a yet-unannounced star in this hopefully heart-warming picture about a bunch of foster kids and the baseball team that looks after them.

"I'm calling up my Cuban roots," laughs Amaya, visiting a newspaper office in an early-January publicity tour.

The producers, who include husband-and-wife Durrell and Rebecca Rogers Nelson, who recently relocated to Albemarle from L.A.. For her, it's a return to her old stomping grounds because she went to Western Albemarle High School "100,000 years ago."

Beautiful Feet Productions plans to use some consulting skills of retired big-leaguer Billy Wagner and hopes to make an announcement about the young local baseball players they'll cast as extras in April, with an eye toward releasing the picture in early 2013.

Meanwhile, Charlottesville-based casting director Erica Arvold is also helping put together the pilot for a proposed kids' t...

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Shoppers exodus: China King moves to Hibachi Grill

The gigantic China King Buffet is the latest tenant to vacate the increasingly empty store-fronted Shoppers World, moving down the road to the Hibachi Grill on Seminole Trail.

China King owner Gui Chen says Shoppers World wouldn't renew the Buffet's lease.

"They tried to get everyone out," says Chen, whose large eatery of sushi, grilled meats, and vegetable dishes occupied the site of the once-popular Katie's Country Club nightspot until the last days of December.

In 2011, the 169,000-square-foot shopping center also lost such tenants Whole Foods, Super Shoes and Ragazzi's. And with the upcoming opening of Stonefield, and the apparent glut of commercial real estate in nearby U.S. 29 shopping centers, such as Albemarle Square and Seminole Square, the big question is what owner Federal Realty Investment Trust, which also owns Barracks Road Shopping Center, has planned.

The Rockville, Maryland-based real estate investment company bought the aging...

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False light? Would-be killer wants vampire stories removed

When Kurt Kroboth was tried for a vampire mask-assisted attempted murder of his estranged wife on Halloween night in 2004, the details of an upper-income couple's bitter divorce-turned-horror movie rocked Charlottesville. The former financier went to prison for six years, and now that he's released, he's ready to make a fresh start. The only thing he believes is standing in the way of "a reconstructed, normal life," he writes in a June 10 email, is the Hook's website, which contains "lurid" details of his case.

Now living in retirement in the Arizona community of Green Valley, the 56-year-old Kroboth says that due to the Hook's "ongoing attack on my reputation," he may pursue a legal remedy, including "monetary damages."

Kroboth's warning comes in a December 16 registered letter, in which he claims that a defamation lawsuit filed in Arizona doesn't require the plaintiff to prove false information, only that it creates a false implication.

Kroboth notes that online articles can be hidden from search engines by adding a line of code, and that the Hook should cloak the stories dated February 16, 2006, May 11, 2006, and February 21, 2011, "a simple...

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A remembrance: Alicia Bowler Lugo

My daughter was 11 when she told me, “I want to meet Alicia.”

I had talked about my boss, but I guess I never realized how much, until my young Margaret wanted to meet her based on my larger-than-life descriptions.

Then in her early 30s, Alicia Lugo was executive director of Charlottesville’s Opportunities Industrialization Council (OIC), an organization started by an African American activist in Philadelphia, the Rev. Leon Sullivan, as a means to prepare the poor for jobs by providing basic education and GED programs, along with on-the-job apprenticeship training.

Operating out of the old Lane High School before it became the Albemarle Office building, Charlottesville OIC was a full-fledged training center.

My family had moved to Madison County in 1975. A year earlier, Alicia had established “OIC Outreach,” a program to serve rural places like Madison, along with Orange, Culpeper and Greene. At first, there were just three of us, Outreach director Julie, job developer Gordon, and the counselor, yours truly.  But Alicia provided the vision behind our enterprise of helping the rural poor.

In Central Virginia in the mid-1970s, Alicia was unique among Charlottesville leaders– an African American woman serving as agency director. Other helping agencies in Charlottesville were run by men: MACAA, Mental Health Services, Charlottesville Social Services, the Housing Authority, a...

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