Charlottesville Breaking News
"Why haven't you picked me up sooner?"
That was the question that 39-year-old unemployed truck driver Aaron H. Thomas allegedly asked investigators upon his Friday, March 4 arrest in New Haven, Connecticut. Believed to be the so-called East Coast Rapist, Thomas is not suspected in the Charlottesville killing of Morgan Harrington but is linked by DNA to at least 17 attacks from Rhode Island to Virginia over a dozen years.
One Virginia prosecutor says the arrest would have come sooner if investigators had access to a controversial tool for which Morgan Harrington's parents have been pushing: familial DNA searching.
"If it had been available, this case would have been solved in '07," says Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert, adding that several females, including the three teenage girls Thomas allegedly abducted and raped in 2009 in Prince William, might have been spared.
Connecticut does not have the familial DNA searching software which might have pointed to a relative of Thomas incarcerated for a felony in Connecticut, where several of the rapes occurred.
While Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller says "no evidence" links Thomas to the 2009 killing of Morgan Harrington or to a DNA-connected 2005 Fairfax rape, Harrington's parents hope the s...
The recently opened Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet on Route 29 may have some curious company in the near future, as a place called Ultimate Buffet has laid claim to the former Charlottesville Power Equipment building next door. Sources says it's going to be, yes, a big Asian-style buffet restaurant.
How could this happen?
It may have to do with our two-jurisdiction local governments, as the Hibachi Grill happens to be in Charlottesville, while the old Power Equipment building stands in Albemarle County. Who's gonna say no to the prospect of sales and meals tax revenue for their fair municipality?
Meanwhile, across the street sits the former Asian Buffet Restaurant building owned now by the UVA Foundation (that has sat vacant for nearly six years), a seemingly perfect place (and a place Peter Chang wanted) for an Asian buffet restaurant.
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With the prosecution winding down its decade-long work on the Terry Dowdell Ponzi scheme– one of the world's largest until Bernie Madoff took such crimes to new depths– prosecutors and investigators took a victory lap of sorts Friday at the Charlottesville federal courthouse. They announced an effort to seek more than $24 million in restitution atop the $34 million recovered by a quick-thinking Securities and Exchange Commission official's account freeze.
"It's a great message case," said Steve Levine, the SEC official who reportedly froze Dowdell's accounts nearly ten years ago, just a day before a pack of wire transfers were about to move the money to Dowdell and fellow conspirators. Levine notes that most of the convicts were brokers, those whose training is designed to prevent them from ever claiming that they, too, were duped.
The most recent broker to fall is Brigit "Gitte" Mechlenburg. A now 63-year-old Dane who'd been working in Massachusetts, Mechlenburg had already been barred by the SEC from the investment industry when she allegedly rounded up about $13 million from investors in what Dowdell and others had been calling their "Vavasseur" program.