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Dog-Beater Appeal, Nun-to-Be Murder Charge, Missing Man and 10-Year-Old Girl Gets College Degree

Top news of the week from our Patches around Virginia and Washington.

Leesburg's Gabriella Miller dissects as part of her workload for an honorary degree from Shenandoah University. Credit: Shenandoah University
Leesburg's Gabriella Miller dissects as part of her workload for an honorary degree from Shenandoah University. Credit: Shenandoah University

Patch has 31 sites in Virginia and Washington. Here are some of the top stories from around the region this week.

Manassas Dog Beater’s Jail Sentence May Be Overturned

A Manassas man found guilty in September of abducting and beating two dogs owned by a former girlfriend is appealing his convictions and will stand trial before a circuit court judge Thursday. Khanh Hong was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in connection with the April abduction of the two West Highland Terriers — Ozzy and Piper—and the December beating of one of the dogs witnessed by a passerby. Hong has yet to stand trial on charges in the death of Piper. The dog died during the alleged abduction.

Centreville-Area Woman Dies in Clifton Moped Crash

A woman from the Centreville area died Tuesday evening after losing control of her moped on Clifton Road. Yumei Wang Barber, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene, Fairfax County Police reports show. It happened around 6 p.m. on the 7200 block of Clifton Road when Barber entered a sharp turn on her 2012 Gabella moped and crossed left of center and into the path of a 2010 Ford truck.

Nun-to-Be Charged With Murdering Her Newborn

A 26-year-old woman studying to become a Catholic nun has been charged in the death of her newborn son, who was born in her room at the Little Sisters of the Poor elderly care facility in Washington, DC. Sosefina Amoa gave birth to the boy Oct. 10, police say, and smothered him with a garment because she feared nuns would hear the newborn's cries.

No Increase in Burglaries Over Summer in Franconia District, Police Say

Police reports show that there was no increase in burglaries in Franconia District this summer. Station Commander Captain Jim Baumstark, along with MPO Jim Reid and Assistant Commander First Lieutenant William Jacoby, gave residents an update on crime in the area during the summer months in Wednesday's Citizen Advisory Committee meeting.

Searching for Houdini: Community Bands Together to Find Missing Dog

New Jersey resident Kim Gregg is receiving an outpouring of help from the Del Ray, City of Alexandria and Route 1 corridor communities after her dog, Houdini, went missing three weeks ago. Houdini — an Australian shepherd — was staying with a family in Del Ray during a trial period while the family was considering adopting him. The family picked up Houdini on Sept. 11, and only hours later, the 3-year-old dog slipped out of the family's home.

Herndon’s Delegate Tom Rust Plans Fight Against Hybrid Car Tax

Del. Tom Rust (R-Herndon) - whom Speaker William J. Howell of the House of Delegates has already said he will name chair of the Transportation Committee if he is re-elected on Nov. 5 - announced this week that his first order of business in 2014 would be to introduce legislation to repeal the $64 annual tax on hybrid cars that went into effect in July. Rust argues that the tax is “unfair and punitive” and that hybrid car drivers pay just as much in gas taxes as drivers of regular cars, and maybe even more since most hybrid cars get fewer miles per gallon.

Fairfax City Petland Cited for Misdemeanors, Changes Contracts

The Fairfax City Petland store has been at the center of several controversies recently, such as the highly-publicized deaths of two puppies shortly after being purchased by owners, including one in which the store management actually sued the dog buyers for their balance owed for the dog. This week, Fairfax City Patch discovered that the store has been cited with two class-four misdemeanors recently. The first was for not including a state-mandated provision in their dog purchase contracts that informs customers that they are entitled to a refund or exchange if their dog becomes sick or dies within the first 10 days. The other was for not keeping complete animal histories on record for all animals sold from the store for at least one year after the sale.

Ashburn Man Arrested, Leesburg Man Wanted in Alleged Purcellville Home Invasion

Investigators are trying to locate David C. Russell Jr., 21, of Leesburg, in relation to a reported armed robbery at an apartment in Purcellville. John C. Barwis, 23, of Ashburn, has been arrested and charged with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the case. Officers with the Purcellville Police Department and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office responded to an apartment on the 100 block of N. 21st Street around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14, following reports an armed robbery, according to an LCSO press release.

Chefs Top Fire Chiefs 2-1 in Food Pantry Cooking Contest

When the bell sounded Wednesday night in the Clarendon Ballroom, Arlington County Fire Capt. Bo Bennett responded to a different kind of call. He and firefighter David Harrison made up Team Blaze & Glaze, and they were facing off against Bayou Bakery Chef David Guas and Sous Chef Sara Siegel in a timed live-cooking competition to create the best appetizer. It's part of what's becoming an annual event to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center, which serves more than 3,500 individuals — one-third of them children.

We, the Pizza Coming to Crystal City in 2014

More Good Stuff is coming to Crystal City. The Mendelsohn family — former "Top Chef" contestant Spike, his sister Micheline and parents Cathy and Harvey — plans to open a newWe, the Pizza restaurant at 2100 Crystal Drive. That space formerly housed a Caribou Coffee and is two doors down from the family's Good Stuff Eatery.

Falls Church Approves School Bus Stop Cameras

Drivers who ignore school bus stop signs, beware. Falls Church school bus drivers and student riders are about to get some backup help. Beginning Monday, just in time for National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 21-25, school bus stop arm cameras will be activated to monitor motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses on some of Falls Church City roads.

Vienna Author David Baldacci’s Children’s Novel Headed to the Big Screen

One of Vienna's most famous residents, best-selling author David Baldacci, will see one of his upcoming books — a fantasy novel written for children ages 9-13 — come to life on the big screen. Sony Pictures has optioned the novel, "The Finisher," to be published March 4, 2014 by Scholastic. The fantasy novel follows 14 year-old Vega Jane, who lives in the village of Wormwood, "beyond which nothing exists except for the Quag, a forest filled with terrifying beasts," a description of the book reads.

Purse Snatcher Tackled by Walmart Shoppers

Benjamin Durand got more than he bargained for when he allegedly grabbed a woman's purse and ran Wednesday evening. A Fredericksburg woman told police she was returning her cart to the storage area in the Walmart parking lot on Carl D Silver Pkwy., when Durand wrestled her purse out of her hands.  The victim yelled for help. "Two men who were passing by chased the suspect across the lot and tackled him to the ground," Fredericksburg Police spokesperson Natatia Bledsoe said.  A third man assisted in detaining the suspect until officers arrived.

Police Investigate Lake Ridge Shooting

Police are investigating an incident that left one man with gunshot wounds and another man with multiple cut wounds, Prince William County Police spokesperson Jonathan Merriman said. Police are investigating this incident as both a burglary while armed and an aggravated malicious wounding. Police initially responded to the 3600 block of Meandering Way in Lake Ridge at 12:09 a.m. today for the report of a shooting.

Planning Commission Approves Redevelopment of Route 1 Afghan Restaurant

Alexandria’s Planning Commission earlier this month approved plans to redevelop the Afghan Restauranton Route 1 into a two-building commercial development. The new development will be named Tony’s Corner after the man who ran and owned Steve’s Diner, a restaurant that existed at the site for many years. The small commercial buildings will house between two and seven businesses in total, depending on how the spaces are leased.

Blackwall Hitch Restaurant Planned for Torpedo Factory Food Pavilion

Plans are in motion to transform the long-vacant Torpedo Factory Food Pavilion at the Alexandria City Marina into a single restaurant. The proposal for the Blackwall Hitch, named after a knot used to tie vessels to shore, is expected to enter the city’s planning approval process in December. Lead partner Larry Ray, a veteran of restaurant and health club ventures in Annapolis, Md., expressed high hopes for the project at a meeting of the city’s Waterfront Commission Tuesday morning.

Leesburg's Gabriella Miller, 10, Receives Her College Degree

Leesburg’s Gabriella Miller, 10, accomplished an impressive task Oct. 11 as she graduated from Shenandoah University. The ceremony marked the third of three wishes made by the young girl – who was diagnosed about a year ago with a walnut-sized inoperable brain tumor – through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Police: Robbery Reported at United Bank on Leesburg Pike

The Fairfax County Police Department is investigating the robbery of the United Bank at 7787 Leesburg Pike, in the Falls Church-Tysons Corner area of the McLean Police District. Police responded to the bank at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Fairfax County Public Schools Teacher Named Virginia Teacher of the Year

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) elementary school teacher Melissa Porfirio was named Virginia’s 2014 Teacher of the Year during a ceremony in Richmond, Va Friday. Porfirio, 39, is a first-grade teacher at Crestwood Elementary School in Springfield. “This is a group of dynamic and outstanding teachers,” Porfirio said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. “I was so surprised when my name was called. It is such an honor to represent Virginia’s teachers.”

VDOT Comment Period Extended for Proposed Chantilly-Area Road Improvements

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has extended the public hearing comment period to Oct. 30 on plans to construct a new roundabout at the intersection of Braddock Road (Route 620) and Pleasant Valley Road (Route 609) in Fairfax County. The hearing took place Oct. 9 at Ormond Stone Middle School. This project would improve the intersection of Braddock Road (Route 620) and Pleasant Valley Road (Route 609) in the Chantilly area, with the intent of alleviating rush hour traffic.

Governor McDonnell Announces I-95 Express Lanes Construction Reaches Midpoint

Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced that construction on the I-95 express lanes has reached a midpoint and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014, according to a news release. The express lanes will be ready to open to traffic in early 2015. The project broke ground in August 2012.

Mount Vernon Woman Publishes 'Survival Guide' About Breast Cancer

On her 39th birthday, Mount Vernon resident Holly Bertone was diagnosed with breast cancer, and two days later she got engaged. In 48 hours Bertone's life changed dramatically. Bertone — who was bald on her wedding day — documented her life-changing cancer treatment and wedding experience in her new book "Coconut Head's Cancer Survival Guide: My Journey from Diagnosis to 'I Do.'"

Chinquapin Recreation Center to Reopen in November

Chinquapin Park Recreation Center,closed since June 17 for HVAC repairs, will reopen at 6 a.m. Nov. 1. To celebrate the reopening, Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will open the rec center for free admission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 2. All ages are welcome.

Police: Man Charged With Reckless Driving in Crash That Killed Pedestrian

Police have charged Woodbridge resident Mohamed-Kareem Mohamed with reckless driving and insufficient tire tread depth after the Oct. 12 single vehicle crash that killed Woodbridge pedestrian Zenaida Jimenez, Prince William County Police spokesperson Jonathan Perok said.

Tractor-Trailer Accident on I-95 in the Dale City Area Snarled Traffic for Hours

A tractor-trailer accident on I-95 in the Dale City area snarled traffic for hours Wednesday. Virginia State Police said that at about 10 a.m., a tractor-trailer carrying caulking and industrial adhesives collided with a crash-cushion truck in the southbound lanes of I-95 near the 156 mile marker in Prince William County. The crash-cushion truck had been protecting a street sweeper on the shoulder, police said. The impact caused the tractor-trailer to overturn.

New Giardino Restaurant Opens in Kings Park Shopping Center

A new Italian restaurant has moved into the Kings Park Shopping Center just outside of Burke. Giardino, located at 8944 Burke Lake Rd. in Springfield, opened on Oct. 1. The restaurant replaces San Vito Ristorante Italiano, which closed earlier this year. The restaurant is owned and managed by the Amato family, the same family that owns restaurants Villa Bella in Burke and Paradiso in Alexandria.

Fairfax Police Searching for Missing Annandale Man

Fairfax County police are searching for an Annandale man who went missing from his home Saturday. Gum Naum Ohe, 55, was last seen leaving his home on Woodland Road around 5 a.m. Saturday, according to police. Ohe was reportedly on his way to church and then to work, but has not been seen or head from since. Police found Ohe's car near Woodland Road and Little River Turnpike.

Lost Potential: Two Honors Students and 'Best Friends' and One Tragic, Violent Night

By all accounts, Rahul Gupta and Mark Waugh — buddies for years who once attended high school honors class together — had everything going for them: Gupta was studying to become a doctor; Waugh was at Georgetown University Law Center. Last weekend, they gathered to celebrate Gupta's 24th birthday. Early Sunday morning, police found them both covered in blood in a high-rise apartment in Silver Spring, Md.

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