Charlottesville Breaking News

Drugs and duplicity: Shemorry to be sentenced, blames hit-man

news-shemorry-coupleHappier times: Patrick Shemorry and his wife, Starla. He was later tape-recorded ordering her killed. FACEBOOK PHOTO

Former Charlottesville realtor Patrick S. Shemorry may have pleaded guilty to hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife, but a new 10-page pre-sentencing memo suggests the crime was a "complete aberration" from an otherwise respectable life and that blame should not fall on Shemorry alone when he is sentenced next week.

"Shemorry never sought out someone to kill his wife," states the December 2 federal filing by Shemorry's public defender, Andrea Harris, explaining that the key witness was less a hired hitman than a veteran conman–- one who "volunteered his services."

The witness–- known to Shemorry as Darius Hampton, but actually operating under a cousin's name–- was bad news, the filing alleges, from the moment...

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Victory demo: crushing for founder's granddaughter

victoryshoestore-web Downtown's Victory Shoe Store, as Ethel Crowe remembers it from her childhood. HISTORIC PHOTO

While the unceremonious demolition of the art-deco glass storefront of the old Victory Shoe Store on the Downtown Mall has angered city planners, preservationists, and fans of the classic storefront–and contributed to some spirited discussion on the function of the BAR, property rights, anonymous comment posting, and “unconsciously bourgeois pathology”–for Ethel Crowe, it’s been like losing a piece of her life.

“It has made me so sick, I can’t tell you what it has done to us,” says Crowe, whose Russian immigrant grandparents, Isaac and Freda Kobre, opened the store in 1921.

“I was born in that store,” says Crowe, “That�...

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Cloudy water: Murky billing soaks Autumn Hill residents

news-mikenatalia-bostMike and Natalia Bost say they can't afford to pay a $100 water/sewer bill at Autumn Hill apartments. PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

When Natalia and Michael Bost moved into Autumn Hill apartments with their new baby in July, they thought the $827 a month rent for a two-bedroom apartment was a pretty good deal–- until the day they received a $200 water and sewer bill. Now, they're among several tenants at the Commonwealth Drive-area complex who think water is being used as a profit center.

"We were told that water, sewer, and trash payments would be made directly to the leasing office and that they would run $30-40 a month," says Natalia Bost. "In our last apartment, we paid about $25."

At Autumn Hill, the lease reveals that residents may be paying for utilities consumed not only in common areas but also in other residential units, as well as paying an a...

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Hitchhiking: Missing Morgan Harrington sought a ride

news-findmorgan-bridge-memorial-insetMorganMorgan Harrington is a 20-year-old junior majoring in education at Virginia Tech. FILE PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

The young woman who disappeared after leaving a Metallica concert on October 17, was last seen seeking a ride on the Copeley Road bridge, according to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, who also released an image of a necklace Morgan Harrington was wearing the night she disappeared.

"We now can confirm that she was hitchhiking," says Geller, noting that Harrington, who had been stuck outside the John Paul Jones Arena after she was denied reentry and had told friends by cellphone that she'd find her own way home, was allegedly seen by multiple witnesses on both sides of the br...

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1,600 strong: High turnout in Charlottesville for Morgan Harrington search

news-findmorgan-volunteers-waitingVolunteers in the search for Morgan Harrington file into the Virginia Department of Forestry building around 9am Sunday. PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

They came from Richmond, from Falls Church, from Buena Vista, and beyond. They came alone, in pairs, and trios of friends. There was even a busload from the Roanoke medical center that employs the father of Morgan Dana Harrington, the young woman who disappeared October 17 during the Metallica concert in Charlottesville.

"We've had people from North Carolina, West Virginia, and even some from Pennsylvania," said Janice Liggett, the volunteer coordinator for the Laura Recovery Center, the Texas-based non-profit which has been coordinating a civilian search effort which has tallied, Liggett, said, about 1,600 volunteers in three days.

"I...

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