A Charge in the Hannah Graham Case

Charlottesville police have issued an arrest warrant for Jesse Leroy “LJ” Matthew Jr., charging him with abduction with intent to defile, a felony.

Hannah Graham was last heard from early Saturday morning, Sept. 13, shortly after 1:00 AM. Eyewitness testimony and video evidence indicate that Matthew spoke to her, put her arms around her, and may have bought her a drink right around that time.

Early on in the investigation, police announced that a man fitting Matthew’s description was a “person of interest”. After police executed a search warrant at his Hessian Hills apartment and impounded his car to the state police forensics lab, Matthews himself came to the Charlottesville police station on Saturday with family members to declare that he wanted a lawyer. Matthews then reportedly took off at “a high rate of speed” and has eluded police capture since.

The CVille Weekly has published a thorough timeline of all the known events and news surrounding Hannah Graham’s disappearance and the investigation, and The Washington Post has aggregated all of their related stories.

MHS Rigged Bids for Sports Apparel

Monticello High School’s athletic director has pleaded guilty to rigging the bidding process for buying athletic apparel, CBS-19 reports, and did so in collaboration with Downtown Athletic. Fitzgerald Barnes—also a member of the Louisa Board of Supervisors conspired with a vice president of Team Distributors and the vice president of Downtown Athletic to create fake bids, ensuring that they’d get the required three bids, and that Downtown Athletic would be the lower bidder. That was a federal crime, but the punishment is just relatively small fines ($350–1,500). Downtown Athletic claims that they didn’t make any extra money off of this (something that cannot be known, since there were no competing bids), and the county school system says that Barnes did not personally gain from this. The school system has placed Barnes on administrative leave, and they’re considering whether he should keep his job.

City Paid Cell Phone Bill for Former Member of Electoral Board

Charlottesville city police are investigating a report of city funds being used to pay for a cell phone used by former Electoral Board member Stephanie Commander more than three years after she left office, K. Burnell Evans reports in The Daily Progress.

The Electoral Board is a three member board that is charged with conducting elections in Charlottesville and certifying the results. Members are appointed by Charlottesville Circuit Court Judges based on nominations from the two political parties that received the most votes in the most recent gubernatorial election. The current Governor’s party has two representatives on the Board and the party receiving the next highest number of votes has one representative. Current members are Chairwoman Joan Schatzman and Vice Chair James Nix, both representing the Democratic Party, and Republican Rick Sincere.

Members are optionally given city-issued cell phones, and three years after she left the Board, Democrat Stephanie Commander was still using hers at a cost to the city of over $2500 since leaving office.

City Registrar staff brought this issue to the attention of City Manager Maurice Jones last March. On Friday, Board Chairwoman Joan Schatzman turned phone records over to city prosecutors. In addition to Ms. Commander, for the past five years the city has also paid for a cell phone for Pat Owen, the husband of City Registrar Sherri Iachetta. Ms. Iachetta reports that she has reimbursed the city for her husband’s phone every month since it was first issued to him.

Board members Nix and Sincere do not have city-issued phones.

Current Landmark Hotel Owner has a History of Unfinished Projects

John Dewberry, the developer who bought the half-finished Landmark Hotel in 2012, has a history of not completing projects in other towns, NBC-29 reports. Hotel Dewberry in Charleston, SC, was supposed to open in 2013 but remains unfinished. Similarly, Dewberry-owned projects in Atlanta and Richmond have not come to fruition.

The Landmark Hotel was originally projected to be a $30M, nine-story luxury hotel on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. At the 2008 groundbreaking, the boutique location was scheduled to be open in the summer of 2009. However, local developer Halsey Minor ran into a series of financial and legal troubles, and the eyesore of a building has remaining unfinished since January of 2009.  The building changed hands several times, but construction never resumed. In early 2014, the City Council deferred a vote to declare the site blighted and forced Dewberry to secure the building with higher fences and to perform a structural analysis of the skeletal structure.

Stabbing on University corner, suspect held

It was a busy day on the UVA Corner yesterday. Even as police were investigating a stabbing, yet another truck ran into the 14th St. bridge and tied up traffic.

Robert Sherwood Shrieves is in custody while his still-unnamed victim remains in the UVA Hospital.

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About

This is a community news blog about Charlottesville, VA, started in March 2001. It's run by Waldo Jaquith. It has nothing to do with C-Ville Weekly, the newspaper. Feel free to submit a story.