UPDATE: ‘Person of interest’ sought in missing UVA student case; State seeking volunteers for search

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

Updated Fri., Sept. 19 at 2:02 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ State emergency management officials are seeking volunteers for what they call a mass search Saturday for a missing University of Virginia student. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is organizing search volunteers in hopes of finding leads in the disappearance of Hannah Graham. She’s been missing since last weekend. All volunteer searchers are subject to a background check and must register online at http://helpfindhannah.brmrg.org no later than 5 p.m. Friday. Prospective volunteers can also register Friday by 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. Only registered volunteers can participate in the search. Volunteers must also be at least 18 years old, carry no weapons and provide a copy of the registration form and a driver’s license.

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Thurs., Sept. 18 at 4:53 p.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Police have released a description of a “person of interest” in the disappearance of a University of Virginia student. The description released Thursday is of a man a witness said put his arm around Hannah E. Graham early Saturday in the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. She was last seen that night. The man is described as black, 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11, and 250-285 pounds with a close-shaved head and goatee. He also had a “beer belly” and was dressed in black jeans and a white T-shirt. Graham has been the focus of an intense search in the college town since Sunday. A reward with contributions from several sources totals $50,000 for information revealing what led to Graham’s disappearance. Police asked the public to call the tip line at (434) 295-3851.

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Roanoke doctor indicted on drug and child pornography charges

Steven Collins

Steven Collins

From the U.S. Attorney’s office: A Federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke has charged a local doctor with federal drug and child pornography charges. In an indictment returned today, the grand jury has charged Steven Joseph Collins, age 51, of Roanoke County, Virginia, with one count of receipt of child pornography and two counts of distributing oxycodone by authorizing controlled substance prescription orders outside the usual course of professional practice. According to the indictment, between July 2010 and July 2013, Collins received digital video and image files of a minor who had not obtained 12-years-of-age, engaged in sexual activity. In addition, the indictment alleges that on separate occasions, January 7, 2014 and April 2, 2014, Collins, in his role as a medical doctor, authorized controlled substance prescription orders for oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice.

(Continue reading for the rest of the news release.)

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UPDATE: Police reportedly close to solving 1975 Md. case in Bedford Co., Va.

Lyon sisters-thumb

FBI file pictures

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (AP) _ Law enforcement officials say they are getting close to finding out who is responsible for the disappearance of two young sisters from Maryland nearly 40 years ago. Authorities said at a news conference Wednesday that information led them to Taylor Mountain in Bedford County, Virginia, where police are searching for evidence in the disappearance of 10-year-old Katherine Lyon and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon.    The sisters vanished from a mall in Wheaton, Maryland, March 25, 1975. Montgomery County, Maryland, police Capt. Darren Francke say authorities have zeroed in on the suspects. In February, Montgomery County Police said they had identified a convicted child sex offender in a Delaware prison as a person of interest in the case.

(Continue reading for Bedford County Sheriff’s Office news releases and FBI photos)

Click HERE for more information on the Federal Bureau of Investigation case.

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Roanoke teacher in contention for statewide Teacher of the Year honors

Education-News1Eight educators today learned of their selection as 2015 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year during surprise classroom visits and announcements made by their division superintendents — and in the case of a Chesterfield County chemistry teacher — Governor Terry McAuliffe and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.  “At the heart of Virginia’s national and international reputation for excellent and innovative public schools are thousands of smart and dedicated teachers who are epitomized by the eight recognized today as best of the best,” McAuliffe said after announcing the selection of James River High chemistry teacher Tara L. Brunyansky as the 2015 Region I Teacher of Year.

The other seven 2015 Regional Teachers of the Year announced are as follows:

  • Bevin K. Reinen, a first-grade teacher at Three Oaks Elementary in Virginia Beach (Region 2)
  • Jennifer H. Worrell, a fourth-grade language arts teacher at Petsworth Elementary in Gloucester County (Region 3)
  • Jaclyn M. Roller, an agricultural education teacher at Signal Knob Middle in Shenandoah County (Region 4)
  • Gerin E. Martin, an early childhood special education teacher at Hutcherson Early Learning Program in Lynchburg (Region 5)
  • Matthew T. Newton, a grades 3-5 special education teacher at Fishburn Park Elementary in Roanoke (Region 6)
  • Mark T. Merz, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Oak Point Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
  • Kelly S. Jones, a World History and Sociology teacher at Greensville County High in Greensville County (Region 8)

(Continue reading for the rest of the news release,)

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One suspect in custody, second one sought for snatching 83-year-old’s purse

Traci Plessinger (photo from Roanoke Police)

Traci Jo Plessinger (Photo from Roanoke Police)

From Roanoke City Police: On September 13, 2014 at 11:43 a.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the 1400 block of Towne Square Boulevard NW, the Sam’s Club, to investigate a report of a woman found injured in the parking lot. The victim, an 83-year-old woman from Roanoke, was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Further investigation determined the victim was putting groceries into her vehicle when a woman grabbed her purse from the victim’s shopping cart, and then got into the passenger seat of a waiting pick-up truck. The victim, attempting to retrieve her purse, grabbed on to a portion of the pick-up truck and was dragged a short distance before falling to the parking lot. The suspect vehicle drove away. Detectives retrieved video surveillance, developed several leads and were able to determine the identity of the suspects. On September 15th, officers took Dallas Michelle Robson, age 35, of Roanoke into custody and charged her with larceny and possession of heroin. Heroin use was one of the factors that motivated the crime. The victim’s credit card and checks were used to obtain merchandise from various stores and attempts were made to obtain money in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and Vinton. Officers are attempting to locate the second suspect, Traci Jo Plessinger, age 49, of Copper Hill. At this time detectives believe Plessinger is the one who took the purse from the victim’s shopping cart.

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Roanoke County Fire & Rescue chief to retire

Chief Richard Burch

Chief Richard Burch

From Roanoke County Fire and Rescue: Chief Richard E. Burch, Jr. announced Friday that he intends to retire in April 2015 after over 18 years of service. Burch submitted his retirement intentions to County Administration. Burch comes from a true fire family. Both his grandfather and father were Captains with the Richmond Fire Bureau and his uncle was a firefighter. Following in their footsteps, Burch began his career at the age of 14 as a volunteer firefighter in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Burch served in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star. After his discharge, he joined the Richmond Fire Bureau in 1972 at age 20. He left there in 1977 to begin his position as the Deputy Fire Chief in Hanover County, Virginia. Burch came to Roanoke in 1996 and became the second Chief of Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department.

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Roanoke house fire ruled arson

Arson-WFIRFrom Roanoke Fire-EMS: On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to a structure fire in the 400 block of Marshall Ave.  The call was received in the E-911 Center at approximately 1:56am and was under control at 3:00am. When crews arrived the two story house was fully engulfed in flames. The house was vacant and no one was injured. Investigators dug through the debris today and ruled that the fire was intentionally set.  Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Line at 540-344-8500 or the Roanoke Fire Marshal’s Office at 540-853-2795.

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Plane makes emergency landing on I-77

I-77-logoFrom Virginia State Police:  At 1:12 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 10), Virginia State Police were called to the scene of a plane crash along Interstate 77 near the 5 mile marker in Carroll County, Va. A 1939 J3 single-engine aircraft was flying south along Interstate 77 when it came in contact with some of the tree tops in the median and crash landed into the mountain that makes up the median of I-77 at Fancy Gap. The plane never made contact with the interstate.  The 67-year-old pilot was transported to Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries. He was the only occupant of the aircraft.  The area of the crash was experiencing dense fog and limited visibility in the area at the time of the crash. Visibility on the ground was approximately 500 feet. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Both the FAA and NTSB have been notified.  Only one northbound lane of I-77 is closed to through traffic at this time.

9-10-14 I77 Carroll Co Plane Crash910-14 I77 Carroll Co Plane Crash II

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Police photos

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Police make quick arrest of pizza delivery driver holdup suspect

Roanoke-PoliceFrom Roanoke City Police: On September 9, 2014 at 10:04 p.m. Roanoke Police were dispatched to the corner of Winsloe and Thurman Avenues NW to investigate a robbery.  The victim, a 36-year-old Pizza Hut delivery driver from Roanoke, told officers that he was attempting to deliver a pizza to a nearby address when a black male approached him, displayed a firearm, and demanded money.  The suspect robbed the victim of cash and other items and ran away on foot.  Responding officers quickly set up a perimeter to try and locate the suspect.  One of the officers working the perimeter observed a black male matching the suspect’s description catch a cab near the scene of the robbery.  Officers followed the cab to the 300 block of Hershberger Road NW when it stopped and the suspect got out.  Based on the description given of the suspect, officers detained the male after he exited the cab.  The suspect was identified as Exavior Deopalis McCarthy, age 20, of Roanoke.  After further investigation, officers charged McCarthy with robbery and use of a firearm in commission of a robbery.  He was taken to Roanoke City Jail.

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“Now hiring” sign out at Kroger to fill 1,600 permanent jobs in region

Kroger LogoFrom Kroger: Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Region is hiring to fill an estimated 1,600 permanent jobs.  The region consists of 118 stores, 113 pharmacies and 75 fuel centers in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and the eastern portions of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. “Right now in our stores in the Mid-Atlantic region, we have openings for bright, hard-working associates who are passionate about making a difference for customers every day,” said Carl York, spokesperson for the Mid-Atlantic region.  Throughout the Kroger family of stores, the company is hiring to fill an estimated 20,000 permanent jobs in its supermarket regions.

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