Charlottesville Breaking News

Free and defiant: Vampire assailant released from prison

The man who donned a vampire mask one Halloween night and attacked his estranged wife as she slept has been set free after more than six years behind bars. In an exclusive interview with the Hook, Kurt Kroboth acknowledges "shameful and humiliating" behavior, but remains defiant about what he calls an "overreaching prosecution" that led to his 2006 conviction for attempted murder.

"It was criminal behavior," says Kroboth, reached in Green Valley, Arizona, where he relocated after his February 1 release.

However, the now-55-year-old former financier says the idea that he intended to kill his wife, Jane, is wrong.

"There was an assault," says Kroboth. "If you think about it, there was no weapon. I came upon a sleeping person. Had I intended to kill someone, it would have been easy to do."

Kroboth's release came as something of a surprise– as did the interview. The Hook's last story on Kroboth, in May 2006, reported he wouldn't be eligible for release until 2014. But according to prosecutor Jon Zug in the Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's office, three weeks after that story ran, his sentence was amended when Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge William Shelton realized the sentence was longer than allowed by statute, which permits a maximum of 10 years. Judge Shelton issued a 10-year sentence and suspended t...

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Un-conventional: "Cedar Rapids" sinfully sweet

You are making the mistake of thinking of Cedar Rapids as a small town. In Cedar Rapids, a sweet comedy with a dirty mind, it is the metropolis, a sinkhole of sex, sin and high living at an annual insurance industry convention. Into this pit of depravity descends the innocent and naive Tim Lippe (Ed Helms), who never before in his life has left his hometown of Brown Valley, Wis.

Helms, from The Office, is assigned to take the big trip after his boss dies in embarrassing circumstances. His character is a bachelor who still lives in his childhood home, although excitement has recently entered his life with his first affair. Yes, he's sleeping with his grade school teacher, Miss Vanderhei, who is played by Sigourney Weaver as a woman who has seen it all–- if it's in Brown Valley, anyway.

Lippe's assignment: Attend the convention and come home with the coveted Two Diamonds Award. I immediately flashed on the older son in Gates of Heaven, sitting proudly behind and in front of plaques and statuettes and observing that he is displaying "the maximum trophies" to impress young recruits into–- yes, it was the insurance business there, too. Apparently, the folks in Brown Valley prefer to deal with Two Diamonds winners. READ FULL STORY

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Martha Jefferson wants $11 million for leftover houses, buildings

Offering 26 parcels ranging from a $225,000 house on Lexington Avenue to the "iconic, modernist-style" Physicians and Surgeons Building at the corner of High and Locust, Martha Jefferson Hospital announced Wednesday that it will be accepting offers on a trove of North Downtown properties around the campus it plans to abandon later this year. The Hospital, relocating to a site on Pantops Mountain in August, stands to reap $11.15 million if all 26 parcels sell for their listing price.

Already, the main hospital buildings were sold last fall to a Charlottesville-based investment group. The new offering consists of a variety of houses, parking lots, and medical buildings surrounding that campus, which changed hands for $6.5 million.

According to information provided by the listing company, CB Richard Ellis, there's a deadline for submitting offers on any of the 11 grouped or individually-listed properties: 5pm, April 20.

The Hospital, which recently merged with the Hampton Roads-based Sentara health care system, indicates in a February 23 release that some of the properties might become residences while other sites m...

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Grand Opening set for Peter Chang's

Get ready, Charlottesville, the culinary event of the year happens Tuesday, March 1. That's when Peter Chang, the elusive chef who came and went, will have the VIP Grand Opening for Peter Chang's China Grill in the old Wild Greens space in the North Wing of the Barracks Road Shopping Center. According to Chang's partner, Gen Lee,  an impressive list of folks are coming to the invite-only affair, including a few well-known journalists and perhaps a movie star or two. But will the chef himself be there?

"Of course," says Lee. "This is Peter Chang's China Grill!"

The day after the grand opening, Chang's will be open to the public for lunch and dinner. See you there, foodies!

Update 2/28: Looks like Barracks Road Shopping Center is organizing a Grand "public" Opening at Chang's on Wednesday, March 2

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Ragged indeed: Neighbors say dormant burn pile sparked massive blaze

Could it be that somebody in Ivy didn't get the memo that Saturday, February 19, was a "red flag day," a time of high winds and dry conditions that were prime time for fanning a fire?

According to the chatter overhead in the Ragged Mountain Farm neighborhood, somebody decided to burn some brush that day. Whatever started it, the result was a destroyed barn, dozens of ruined hay bales, and vast swaths of blackened fields and forests.

Not to mention fear and loathing, as flames crept close to occupied dwellings. And when this story was first posted, the fire had jumped the ridge and begun moving southward toward the Blandemar Farms subdivision.

"Fire burns slower downhill," said Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston, who said units from Charlottesville, Augusta, and Nelson counties joined the fight.

There were over 100 wildfires across Virginia that day, including one that caused the evacuation of about 100 Louisa County residents and the creation of a temporary shelter there, according to a release from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

There were no burned houses and no reports of property damage at Ragged Mountain Farm, but atop the adjacent Rosemont subdivision a burned barn was declared a total loss, Eggleston said.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin said in a release that the ultimate measure of the burned terrain will be "several hundred acres." Catlin indicat...

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