Charlottesville Breaking News

'He's still here.' And other revelations in the Harrington case

It was a Saturday night in October 2009. The air outside was chilly, and a light rain was falling as the visiting father finished dinner with his daughter at a Charlottesville restaurant and the two returned to his car. As the father drove his daughter back to her dormitory around 9:20pm, their path took them past John Paul Jones Arena, where a major event was underway.

Heavy metal group Metallica had taken the stage only minutes before, and fans who'd flocked from all over the East Coast had gathered inside. As the main event roared inside the Arena, the parking lots outside were full and lights were blazing, but Copeley Road was nearly devoid of pedestrians.

As the father and daughter traveled toward Ivy Road and over the railroad bridge, the ordinary ride suddenly took them past an unusual sight. A young woman, dressed all in black with long blond hair, was standing on the bridge with her thumb extended in the classic hitchhiking gesture.

The pair would soon learn that they were among the last to see Morgan Dana Harrington alive.
It's been more than a year since the body of the 20-year-old Virginia Tech education student was discovered. With no suspects named, police have been reaching out to the public in hopes that someone will be able to help take the investigation a step further. How did Morgan's body end up in a cow pasture 10 miles away? Is a killer still stalking the streets of Charlottesville and Albemarle County?


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Cheap(er) drugs: County offers discount Rx card

Who doesn't love a bargain, and how often do you get one from local government–- on your Viagra?

Albemarle County is offering a prescription discount card that can cut the cost of drugs on average of 22 percent.

And it has nothing to do with national health care reform.

The discount card is courtesy of NACo–- the National Association of Counties–- an organization that represents more than 3,000 counties, among them, Albemarle.

But why discount drugs from an organization whose main job is lobbying Congress?

"The history of the program goes back to 2000 when we surveyed members and they asked if we could do anything about the cost of presciptions," says Andrew Goldschmidt, NACo director of membership marketing.

With 1,400 counties joining in, NACo was able to negotiate pricing with manufacturers on drugs, says Goldschmidt. The result: 29 million prescriptions have been filled at a savings of $340 million.

"It's not just for the un-insured," says Goldschmidt. "It's for the under-insured as well."

For example, a lot of insurance plans exclude "lifestyle" drugs, such as birth control or the ones that help stave off baldness or erectile dysfunction, and those get discounts with the card, he says.

About 70 percent of pet medications...

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Groupenomics: Getting schooled on the daily deal craze

Are you ready for the social buying craze?

They've got an offer you can't refuse.

Yes, the so-called 'group buying' or 'social buying' craze spearheaded by websites like Groupon and LivingSocial has made its way to Charlottesville. While local consumers might have reason to rejoice about saving 50 to 90 percent on local purchases, and while some local businesses are embracing the concept, others are bracing themselves for a daily deal invasion.

In case you haven't heard, Chicago-based Groupon and Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial have been busy taking over the world lately. Last month, Groupon, which claims to have 50 million subscribers and yearly revenue around $500 million, walked away from a rumored $5 to $6 billion takeover bid from Google. And recently invested $175 million in LivingSocial, which claims it hauls in an average of $1 million a day. Even though we're in the midst of a recession, or supposedly recovering from one, Forbes has called Groupon the "faste...

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Monster storm: NE snow cancels CHO to LGA, Amtrak rolls on

All six of the scheduled flights from Charlottesville to New York were cancelled Wednesday, February 2, due to the monster snow storm sweeping across the nation's mid-section, but two of the three trains connecting the two cities ran pretty much on time.

Amtrak's "Crescent" train left Charlottesville's Union Station 14 minutes late February 2 with an estimated on-time arrival in New York's Penn Station. The Lynchburg-based "Northeast Regional" left on time shortly before 9am and is currently on track to reach the Big Apple on time.

An Amtrak spokesperson, Christina Leeds, says that there were some disruptions on the line connecting Philadelphia and New York "for a small period of time" but that the trains rolling through Charlottesville should reach New York.

One that's running late is the "Cardinal." Based the previous night in blizzard-socked Chicago, the "Cardinal" was running over seven hours late. However, according to Amtrak, it too–- unlike the airplanes–- should reach New York City.

Leeds notes that the "Northeast Regional" is following through on its entire run, all the way to snow-slammed Boston.

Although showing an operating profit–- due to much higher-than-predicted use in its first year–- the Virginia run of the "Northeast...

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UVA crime: Bill would yank big cases from campus cops

news-uvagardenwsusankathrynrussellSusan Russell began advocating soon after her daughter reported getting raped at UVA in 2004.

When a serious crime occurs on campus, who should investigate? A bill making its way through the Virginia legislature would strip campus police departments of their authority over murder and rape investigations, and would require local police to take the lead–- something some victim advocates believe would result in more thorough investigations of the most serious crimes.

"In my mind, the local police are highly trained–- they have a Special Victims Unit, have people dedicated to that particular type of task," says sexual assault victim advocate Susan Russell, founder of the website and a...

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