Charlottesville Breaking News

Murder case: Broadcast set for Morgan Harrington program

Investigators have been quiet on the Morgan Harrington case since January, when police led media on a tour of key sites including the John Paul Jones Arena, where the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student vanished during a year-and-a-half-ago Metallica concert. On Monday, April 18, however, the case roars back into a national spotlight as the Investigation Discovery channel debuts an hour-long installment of a popular mystery program.

The Hook was offered a pre-release view of this episode of the Disappeared series. Entitled "Heavy Metal Mystery," it features extensive interviews with parents Dan and Gil Harrington, Virginia State Police investigators Joe Rader and Dino Cappuzzo, newspaper deliverywoman and possible witness Norma Parson, (as well as a brief interview with this reporter.)

In a somber tone, a narrator offers grim facts with some scenes reenacted by actors. Dark lighting lends an ominous mood to the program, which focuses not only on the investigation, but on the terror and devastation the Harringtons have faced as they live through every parent's worst nightmare.

In one particularly chilling scene, a black-clad lookalike stands silhouetted on the Copeley Road bridge with her thumb out. The blonde education major's increasingly erratic behavior is suggested in other scenes.

As extensively reported in the Hook,...

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On track: Wagner's latest film rides high

From political strife in Tibet to Irish dancing to America's polio epidemic, documentary filmmaker Paul Wagner has followed his diverse interests and turned them into award winning films. His latest effort, Thoroughbred, took him deep into the world of horse racing.

"It's really a rich area, with its own little subculture," says Wagner. "I thought it would be great to paint a portrait since it isn't known to most people except once a year."

That once a year takes place in the spring with the Triple Crown races, and Wagner, who won an Academy Award in 1985 for The Stone Carvers, a short documentary on the artisans whose work adorns the National Cathedral in Washington, traces his interest in "America's oldest sport" back to his Kentucky childhood when his father would tell him stories about sneaking through a hole in a fence as a kid to watch the Kentucky Derby.

Opportunity to explore horseracing on film presented itself when Kentucky Educational TV contacted Wagner several years ago asking him to produce and direct a documentary on the subject.

With a budget of "a few hundred thousand," Wagner and his crew, including his filmmaking partner and wife, Ellen Casey Wagner, spent three years making the movie, traveling from Kentucky to Dubai during 2009, interviewing the people who make up the world of horseracing from the modest grooms to one of the richest men in the world, Sheikh Mohammed, royal ruler of Dubai.

"He bid $3...

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Atlas shouts, TJ celebrates, Belmont slices, and a new CSA

We have the recession to thank for Atlas Coffee, on Fontaine Avenue, right beside Guadalajara in the old Jackson Hewitt Tax Service space, which opened on April 5, as owners Ruth Ellen Outlaw, her husband Woody, and couple Lorie Craddock and Michael Manto finally realized a dream they cooked up in the economic downturn when Outlaw's design business was slowing.

Outlaw, a restaurant biz vet as well, thought she was crazy to get into it again, but the Italian coffee bar concept the four came up with struck her fancy.

"We see the small space as an asset because it will allow us to interact more with the customers," Outlaw told Dish. "Instead of the stand-up counters that you see in Italy, however, we'll have stools, and we'll have outdoor seating in nice weather."

Originally, they had planned on a mid-January opening, but as Dish has learned, nothing ever goes as planned in the restaurant business.

So how's it going so far?

"It's going really well, but we're hoping to get busier," says Outlaw. "We're starting to establish ourselves as the neighborhood coffee bar, and we're really enjoying getting to know our regular customers."

Atlas joins Hoo's Brew as the second coffee place at the familiar intersection, which welcomed Fry Springs Station and the new...

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Gag me: Does censuring the censors really work?


It's not surprising that in Thomas Jefferson's hometown, the founding father's ideals are so vaunted that a Free Speech Monument stands in front of City Hall for citizens to express...

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Big wrecks: Should interstate detours get traffic cops?

UVA football games, Charlottesville running races, and even the recent Dogwood Festival get the benefit of police officers directing traffic. So why didn't the massive tie-up that snarled Pantops for several hours on Tuesday, April 12?

That's what Tayloe Emery wants to know.

The Virginia man was trying to get to downtown Charlottesville, but his path was blocked by an Interstate 64 wreck that sent a tractor trailer sprawling across both westbound lanes and created a 10-mile-long backup behind mile marker 123.

"There's not a single cop directing traffic," said miffed motorist, reporting two hours spent creeping from the area of Zion Crossroads to the top of Pantops Mountain.

"Don't you think it would be smart," asked Emery, "to have people pushing traffic instead of moving an inch an hour? The cop could be waving people through."

Emery says that as he crept along U.S. 250 east of Free Bridge he called the police departments of both Albemarle and Charlottesville and says he was told that manpower issues prevented officers from supplanting traffic lights.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Lou Hatter was asked if VDOT has a game plan to deploy traffic directors in the wake of an interstate-snarling crash.

"We do what we can to minimize the impacts," says Hatter, mentioning media releases, illuminated roadside message boards, and the state's website which duly noted this incident.

But as for a more...

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