<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:02:04 -0400 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 08:02:04 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Police Search for Man Seen Talking to Missing UVA Student]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:42:29 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0917-hannah-graham-.jpg

Authorities in Charlottesville are hoping to locate a man who was spotted talking with missing University of Virginia student Hannah Elizabeth Graham just before she disappeared.

Police say they have obtained surveillance videos of Graham, 18, around Charlottesville's downtown mall just after 1 a.m. last Saturday morning. 

Another man shown in surveillance videos has already spoken with police. At 1:06 a.m., a camera at Sal's Restaurant recorded him walking in front of Graham, stopping and walking behind her, according to NBC29. At 1:08 a.m., a camera at Tuel Jewelers, also on the mall, recorded Graham walking with another woman while the man followed her. Those videos have yet to be released to the media and public.

Police told NBC29 late Wednesday evening they have spoken with that man, who told officers he noticed Graham was disoriented and wanted to help her. He told police that after he spoke with her, he saw a second man, only described as a black man, speaking to Graham and wrapping his arm around her shoulders. The witness said it appeared as though that man was also concerned about Graham.

Charlottesvlle police say they will search for more surveillance video from area businesses Thursday in an attempt to get a clearer description of the situation surrounding their encounter.

Wednesday afternoon, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo and lead investigator Detective Sgt. Jim Mooney discussed the chronology beginning Friday night and showed two surveillance videos of the 18-year-old by herself.

Graham, who is from Fairfax County, was last seen wearing black pants and a gold crop top with black mesh cutouts, according to surveillance photos taken Friday at her apartment around 9:30 p.m.

Police said she met friends for dinner at The Corner, a strip of bars, restaurants and night spots near the university. She left by herself around 11 p.m.

She was spotted outside McGrady's Irish Pub, then walking east along Preston Avenue in Charlottesville at 12:46 a.m. Saturday. 

Investigators say the Fairfax County teen appeared intoxicated but was not injured.

About 10 minutes later, surveillance video shows her outside a Shell gas station on Preston Avenue, NBC29 reported. She broke into a run, but police said no one was behind her on the tape.

By 1 a.m., Graham made it to the downtown mall in Charlottesville where the latest surveillance video was found.

Her friends last heard from her around that time, when she sent a text indicating she was lost.

Longo choked up as he described talking to Graham's parents, John and Susan Graham, earlier in the day. He read a statement from them.

"Hannah is beyond precious to us, and we are devastated by her disappearance,'' the statement read. "It is totally out of character for us not to have heard from her, and we fear foul play."

But police lack substantial evidence of foul play at this point, Longo said.

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends," Graham's family said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "She is highly responsible and organized. She embraces life with energy and enthusiasm and has enriched the lives of many. Her empathy is evident in her daily interactions with us and her friends."

Stephen Rice, the band director at Graham's alma mater, West Potomac High School, agreed. "Hannah is not the kind of kid that would just go on a road trip and disappear," he said. "She was always very diligent with everything she did, and always did everything exactly by the book." Graham graduated from West Potomac in 2013.

The FBI has confirmed that it is involved in the search for her, saying only that it is providing investigative resources to local police. Albemarle County's search and rescue teams also lent a hand to Charlottesville Police Tuesday in their search for Hannah.

"We're mostly giving them some extra eyes and feet on the ground to actually cover more area quicker. In these searches, time is of the essence in trying to find someone," said Bobby Shiflett with Albemarle County Sheriff's Office. 

Graham, who is originally from England, is 5-feet-11-inches tall with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles, according to university officials. Her and her family moved to the U.S. when she was five years old.

Police said Graham's friends reported her missing Sunday after realizing nobody had seen or heard from her since early Saturday morning.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement saying the community is "united in our deep concern'" for the second-year student.

Graham's parents left their Northern Virginia home to go to Charlottesville to help look for her earlier this week, and a "Help Find Hannah Graham"' page has been established on Facebook.

"I just want her home safe. I'm scared for her," said Karen Blunk, who lives next door to Graham's parents. "Just from the standpoint of, you hear horrible things."

In October 2009, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing after leaving the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert. Her remains were found three months later in a rural area. No arrests have been made.

"It's hearbreaking to know that another young woman is missing and that another family is going through the anguish of the missing period," said Harrington's mother.

At least two other young women, both 19 years old, have also disappeared in the area in recent years. Samantha Ann Clarke vanished after leaving her Orange County townhouse in September 2010. DaShad Laquinn Smith disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012. Neither have been found.

Anyone with information regarding Graham's whereabouts is asked to call a 24/7 tipline at 434-295-3851.

<![CDATA[Excused McDonnell Juror Discussed Case at Bar]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:31:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_bob_mcdonnell_exgobernador_virgina_declarado_culpable.jpg

The McDonnell juror who could have changed history, Louis DeNitto, Jr., disobeyed the orders of a federal judge and discussed the case openly at a Richmond bar, a block from U.S. district court.

According to sources with intimate knowledge of the court proceedings, DeNitto was staying at the Broad Street Marriott, and discussed the case at the hotel bar.

"He considered the McDonnells innocent and didn't mind saying it," said a juror in an email Tuesday. "Judge Spencer was specific... Lying to the judge or discussing the case would cause severe consequences."

According to McDonnell juror Robin Trujillo, two U.S. marshals entered the jury room 12 days into the corruption trial, and escorted DeNitto to Spencer’s chambers.

"The next thing we know, those two marshals come in and asked [DeNitto] to come out," Trujillo said in an interview Wednesday. "And he left, he just disappeared."

After a meeting in Spencer’s chambers with the McDonnells and attorneys from both sides, DeNitto was excused. Gov. Bob McDonnell emerged from the meeting visibly upset.

"We have no further comment on the matter," said Cullen Seltzer, DeNitto's attorney Wednesday. Spencer’s office also declined to issue a comment.

DeNitto declined to reveal the reason why he was dismissed in an interview with the Washington Post, but said the decision to remove him was “completely unethical.”

The McDonnells will be sentenced Jan. 6 in Richmond federal court, and have signaled they plan to appeal after the sentencing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Wildfire Threatens Homes]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 04:11:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/nws-king-fire.jpg

The King Fire was still raging out of control in Pollock Pines, 60 miles east of Sacramento, on Wednesday evening, as more than 2,500 firefighters battled the blaze, which grew by thousands of acres overnight and has burned through nearly 29 square miles.

The wildfire was threatening 500 homes, with some under mandatory evacuation orders, and was just 5 percent contained.

“It's burning in steep, dense terrain with heavy timber that's posing quite a challenge,'' said Alyssa Smith, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Homeowners are just waiting, hoping to get word that their house is in the clear. Mark Catrambone, along with his wife and dog, were evacuated from their home in Swansboro. They said they’re thankful they had enough time to pack their valuables and get out safely.

“We’re safe and that’s the most important thing,” Catrambone said. “Would hate to lose it all. It’s just property, but still, it’s your life and home.”

Twenty-one families have been evacuated. Fire officials said keeping those houses safe is a top priority, but fire crews are struggling with dangerous conditions.

“It’s risky out there. It’s a fire, moving quickly, and it’s very steep and rugged terrain,” Capt. Michelle Eidam said, adding the low humidity and the wind is making their job tough.

“Our fuels are very dry,” Eidam said. “That’s playing a huge role in helping this fire grow quickly, burn hot and spread fast.”

The King Fire is one of a number of wildfires burning across California. Dozens of homes, churches and buildings were wiped out after a fire roared through the small logging town of Weed, California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: @NWSSacramento / Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor Infected With Ebola Expected to Make Full Recovery]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 02:01:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Sacra+1.jpg

A Massachusetts aid worker who contracted Ebola in West Africa is now expected to make a full recovery, according to the doctors treating him at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Wednesday night, NECN interviewed Dr. Rick Sacra's brother, Doug Sacra of Wayland. Doug says his brother's appetite is starting to come back, he's mentally sharper and more talkative.

"Oh it's great, we are very pleased," said a smiling Doug Sacra.

Dr. Sacra's wife, Debbie, has been briefing the family from Nebraska, where he's been in isolation since returning from Liberia.

Wednesday, Doug said he spoke with his brother over the phone for a half hour.

"He sounded perfectly normal, Dr. Rick at his best. On the other hand he's just laying there in his bed, so he is totally with it mentally, and now he can talk to you for a while, where a week ago he could talk to you for a minute and a half and then doctor said he has to lay back down."

Just last week, doctors explained how Dr. Sacra has been getting blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantley, another Ebola survivor. He's also taking another experimental drug, which doctors refused to identify, saying it's uncharted territory.

Over the past week, Dr. Sacra has done so well that doctors are now working to keep him entertained. They've brought in books, a stationary bike, chess board and Nerf hoop, even Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Doctors are now awaiting results of a second set of blood samples. There must be two negative blood tests done within 24 hours apart for Dr. Sacra to be released.

Photo Credit: SIM USA]]>
<![CDATA[Bowser Leads, But Race Could Be a Tossup: Poll]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:50:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser has a double-digit lead over her opponents in the first poll on this fall's D.C. mayoral election -- but that doesn't mean the race is a done deal. 

Among likely voters, including those who are still undecided, Bowser leads with 43 percent of the vote, according to an NBC4/Washington Post/Marist poll released Wednesday. (The poll has a 4.1-percent margin of error among likely voters.)

Independent David Catania received 26 percent, and another 16 percent of voters say they are planning to vote for independent Carol Schwartz.

However, that balance could change. With nearly seven weeks to go until Election Day, 14 percent of likely voters remain undecided, and a sizable chunk of likely voters admit they don't know enough about the candidates to render an opinion.

Moreover, among those likely voters who have chosen a candidate, slightly less than half strongly support their choice. A little more than one-third "somewhat support" their choice, and 16 percent say they might change their minds by the time they cast their ballots.

"Bowser has the advantage going into Thursday night's debate," said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a release. "But, when considering voters who are undecided and those who say they may still vote differently, there are enough persuadable voters to make for a lively give-and-take."

Only about half of likely voters who are supporting Bowser and Catania say they are "firmly committed" to their respective choice of candidate.

None of the candidates are struggling with likability; half of likely voters have a favorable view of both Bowser and Schwartz, and 46 percent feel the same about Catania.

However, Bowser has the strongest unfavorability rating; 22 percent of likely voters have a negative view of her. Catania was next, at 19 percent unfavorable. Just 15 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable view of Schwartz.

And roughly a third of poll respondents conceded that they don't know enough about at least one of the candidates to render an opinion either way: 28 percent of likely voters said that about Bowser; 35 percent about Catania, and 36 percent about Schwartz.

That balance could change, however, as voters learn more about the candidates in the coming weeks.

The poll also shows that the candidates' political parties may not have as much of an effect on the race as expected.

Two-thirds of likely voters who are Democrats say they'd consider voting for a non-Democratic candidate -- news that Bowser's independent opponents might be interested to know. The figure includes 38 percent who would very seriously consider doing so. However, another 31 percent would not.

Bowser also scored strongly on some of the issues that likely voters say are most important to them: jobs and the economy, education and temperament. "Her strong suits are people who rate jobs and the economy as their number-one issue," said Miringoff. "...She clearly has that point of identification with voters."

But when it comes to who has the clearest vision for the city and experience, those prove to be more of a tossup.

Bowser and Catania are in a statistical tie among likely voters on those issues, and Schwartz isn’t far behind when it comes to voters’ perception of her experience.

"In a sense, [Bowser] has some work to do in establishing her image, cementing that with voters, beyond just the jobs and economy..." Miringoff said.

In other words, it's not just Catania and Schwartz who have a ways to go before the election, Miringoff said: "They have work in gaining support, and she has work in cementing her image."

"The pursuable votes are there to be had, but they have to make their case to get that," he said.

As for shifting allegiances, Bowser's defeat of Mayor Vincent Gray in the April primary is coming back to help her in another way: 47 percent of Democrats who voted for Gray in the spring are now backing Bowser.

However, Catania has syphoned support from those who voted for third-place primary candidate Tommy Wells back in April. More than half of those voters are now in Catania's camp.

Catania is also leading Bowser by 11 percentage points among likely voters who are white, although Bowser is showing crossover appeal among both white and African-American voters. More than half of black voters, 55 percent, favor Bowser, as do 30 percent of white voters.

Nearly two thirds of likely voters said they don't think it's important to have an African American mayor. Of those voters, 38 percent said it's not important at all.

But more than 30 percent of likely voters do think it's important, and that includes 13 percent who report it's essential.

"The bottom line in all this, is it does put Bowser in the driver's seat, but she certainly doesn't have a lock on this, " Miringoff said.


About two-thirds of adults said the District is moving in the right direction; another 24 percent think it is on the wrong track. Eight percent are unsure. The results show a slight polarization on the question since it was last asked. When this question was asked in a March poll, 65 percent of residents thought D.C. was on the right path, and 21 percent felt the opposite. At the time, a much higher ratio, 14 percent, was unsure.

Most D.C. residents, 71 percent, say Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier is doing a good job. Another 14 percent disapprove, and 15 percent are unsure.

While D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson didn’t score as will, she still came away with a 52-percent approval rating. The poll shows that another 22 percent of residents disapprove, and a little more than a quarter are unsure.

As for proposed changes to D.C. school boundaries, 55 percent of residents support the proposal. Another 23 percent oppose it, and 22 percent are unsure.


This survey of 1,249 adults was conducted Sept. 14-16 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with NBC4 and The Washington Post. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the District of Columbia were interviewed by telephone using live interviewers.

Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the District from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. To increase coverage, this landline sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. The two samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2010 Census results for age, gender income, and race.

Respondents in the household were selected by asking for the youngest male. Results are statistically significant within ±2.8 percentage points. There are 1,070 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 572 likely voters defined by a probability turnout model. This model determines the likelihood respondents will vote in the November 2014 election based upon their chance of vote, interest in the election, and past election participation.

Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Cases of Enterovirus Confirmed in NY, NJ, CT: Officials]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:58:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CDC-generic.jpg

Officials Wednesday confirmed cases of enterovirus EV-D68 in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut as the unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness continues to sweep across the U.S.

Officials said that at least one of the 12 confirmed cases of the virus previously confirmed in New York state is in New York City, and another case is on Long Island. Cases have been reported in more than a dozen states nationwide.

The CDC also confirmed a case in New Jersey on Wednesday. That case was identified from a specimen sent to the CDC from a Philadelphia hospital, the CDC said. The child was discharged from a hospital after their condition improved.

On Long Island, a girl from North Hempstead was hospitalized earlier in the month and is now recovering at home, according to the Nassau County Health Department. 

Connecticut health officials also said that a child in that state also contracted the virus. The child was being treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, but it's not clear what town that child was from..

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Infants and children are at particular risk, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962.

Health officials urge anyone who has trouble breathing, or notices a child does, to call a doctor immediately.  

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lawsuit Over Teen Killed by LAPD]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:29:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ezell+ford+lapd+ois+victim.PNG

The mother of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by LAPD officers during an altercation, filed a $75 million wrongful death lawsuit against the department Wednesday, arguing her son’s civil rights were violated the night he died.

Ford, 25, was fatally shot Aug. 11 after he allegedly struggled with two Los Angeles police officers from Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail after he was stopped near 65th and Broadway streets. Police said Ford reached for an officer’s gun when they opened fire.

Family members have contradicted that narrative, and asserted that Ford was mentally ill and the officers should have better known how to deal with him.

“This was a homicide plain and simple,” said Steve Lerman, who is representing Ford’s family. “A disarmed, unarmed, helpless, hapless person who was shot to death for no reason other than two officers were bored on Monday at 8 p.m. and they knew Ezell Ford was handicapped.”

Lerman, who represented Rodney King in his lawsuit against LAPD 22 years ago, did not elaborate on why the family believed the two officers knew Ford was handicapped, but said new evidence and scores of witnesses have come forward in the case who will back up his claims.

Ford’s death has sparked outrage, demonstrations and marches from activists who say they’re fed up with the recurring problem of law enforcement and how they deal with the mentally ill.

Ford battled bipolar and schizophrenia, according to Lerman, the family attorney.

The family’s claim argues officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas unjustifiably shot Ford and denied him due process.

LAPD did not comment on the lawsuit because the investigation is ongoing and the department does not comment on pending litigation.

<![CDATA[DMV Traffic Expected to Get Worse With Population Growth]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:39:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007891122_1200x675_330507331633.jpg Though more people are trying to commute without their cars, traffic in the D.C. could get much worse in coming years thanks to population growth. Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss has the story.]]> <![CDATA[Stolen Jaguar Found 46 Years Later]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:56:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/jaguar+xke+stolen+ivan+schneider.jpg

A classic British roadster regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever made will be returned to its 82-year-old owner nearly five decades after the vehicle was stolen.

The 1967 Jaguar E-type convertible was seized by authorities last month at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport. Referred to the XKE in the United States, the car has captured hearts of auto enthusiasts, including Ivan Schneider, since it roared onto the scene in the 1960s with its sporting pedigree, graceful long hood, sleek profile and other timeless design elements. The New York Museum of Modern Art even added an XKE to its permanent design collection in the 1990s.

This particular car's story is not all about looks -- although, most of it is.

The car was stolen 46 years ago in New York City and Schneider, now living in Miami Beach, had no reason to believe he would ever see his beloved sports car again. He was so enamored with it that whenever he bought a new car, Schneider recalled regaling dealers with tales of his lost E-type, which the trial lawyer then in his mid-30s bought for $15,000 after winning a big case. Hagerty's classic car price guide now values the convertible 4.2-liter engine model at more than $112,000.

"I've had a lot of great cars since then, but none of them as pretty," Schneider, a car collector, said Wednesday. "I've had every car you can think of. That was, in looks, my favorite car.

"It's gorgeous. It looks like a bullet almost. It's a car they should make now again."

The theft occurred outside his New York City residence. Schneider walked downstairs on his way to work and realized the car wasn't where he parked.

"I walked up and down Madison Avenue, then up and down 5th Avenue, and it wasn't there," he said. "I was heartbroken."

He filed a police report. Holding out hope that the Jag would be found, he did not buy another car for about four weeks. Eventually, he accepted the possibilty he would never see it again.

Forty-six years later, he found what a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told him during an August phone call even more difficult to accept. The car had been located in a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach/Los Angeles that was bound for Europe.

"When I got the call, I thought they were kidding me," Schneider said.

The break in the decades-old vehicle theft case came when Customs and Border Protection was notified by the National Insurance Crime Bureau of a vehicle reported stolen. CBP typically cross-references documentation provided by exporters with information, including vehicle identification numbers, in the Crime Bureau's active stolen vehicle reports.

"When we located the vehicle, it was in a container bound for the Netherlands," said Javier Larios, of the CBP.

The agency notified the carrier that the container should be returned to the Southern California port complex. When agents opened the container, they found Schneider's Jag, painted white over its original gray color.

"The outside looks great, the inside looks terrible," Schneider said. "This is just a miracle, a miracle."

Schneider plans to have the car restored in New York before it is shipped to his Florida home. He said he is "very excited" to take it for another ride after only putting 6,000 miles on the car before it disappeared.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[HS Queen Shares Crown After Prank]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:58:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-0000118.jpg

Two friends at a North Texas high school vowed to make up for their classmates' cruel prank by awarding the Grand Prairie High School homecoming crown to one of their best friends.

Lillian Skinner, 17, is described by friends as "just an amazing girl" and "one of the nicest people I've ever met."

"She's so sweet," said 17-year-old Anahi Alvarez, a senior at the North Texas school. "We need people in this world like Lilly."

"My mom tells me, and I remember to tell my friends, 'Look inside [to see what] counts. Not the outside. Look inside your heart,'" Skinner told NBC 5 about her life motto. "If you judge people's skin, that's bad. But look inside their heart, to who they are."

But Skinner's sweet and innocent nature also made her the target of a recent prank in which some unnamed girls told her she had been nominated for the homecoming court alongside her longtime best friends, Alvarez and Naomi Martinez, also a GPHS senior.

After learning of the prank, Alvarez and Martinez, who have been friends with Skinner since 7th grade choir, hatched a plan to pass their crown to Skinner should either of them be named homecoming queen.

"We promised each other and we were like, 'No matter what, no backing down. If one of us wins we're giving Lillian the crown,'" Martinez said.

On Friday night, in front of thousands of friends, family members and fans at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl, that is exactly what happened.

Principal Lorimer Arendse, now in his fourth week at the helm of Grand Prairie High School, was let in on the plan shortly before halftime and the planned announcement of the homecoming winners.

"In all my time in school, this is probably the greatest moment I've ever experienced as a principal," said Arendse, who has five years of prior experience in school administration.

It was Arendse's job to escort Skinner onto the field, under the guise of helping to take pictures of the homecoming court's procession. So Skinner had front row seats for when her friend, Anahi Alvarez, was named 2014 homecoming queen.

"When she won the queen, I took a picture and she told me to come over. And I said, 'It's OK. It's OK. It's your crown,' you know? My name is not on the list,'" Skinner said.

Slowly it dawned on Skinner what was really happening, according to the others in attendance.

"That's when it was just, the moment itself took over," Arendse said, still smiling four days after the fact.

"Seeing the look on her face and the way she reacted toward it, it was priceless," said Martinez. "I knew it was the right decision."

Skinner did not know what to think as Alvarez placed the crown on her head.

"I was like, 'Wow, really? Like, wow! Like, is this a dream or something?'" Skinner said Tuesday, pinching her arm as she did.

As for the girl who got the most votes Friday, she said she would gladly do it all again.

"Well, for me, I want to say, and I always say, Lilly won. I just ran in her place, in her position," Alvarez said. "When they ask me, 'Were you homecoming queen?' I say, 'No, Lilly is homecoming queen.'"

Photo Credit: Anahi Alvarez]]>
<![CDATA[Docs: 3-Year-Old D.C. Boy Severely Beaten Prior to Death]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 07:38:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Xavier-Lyles.jpg

Court documents show a 3-year-old D.C. boy was severely beaten before he was pronounced dead by paramedics.

Three-year-old Xavier Lyles was found dead June 24 in a home in the 2500 block of Pomeroy Road. His mother, Frances Lyles, was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree felony murder.

According to charging documents, D.C. police spoke with the little boy's mother several times since Xavier was found dead. During the first few interviews, Frances Lyles, 25, maintained she "hardly ever" physically disciplined her children.

Police interviewed someone who spoke with her on the phone prior to Xavier's death. That person said that Frances Lyles said she was "'bout to beat Xavier's a**" on June 1. 

Officers also spoke with the Lyles' neighbors, who reported hearing "screaming, hollering and cries for several minutes and then it was [quiet]" the night before police found Xavier dead.

According to documents, Xavier suffered a slew of injuries, including liver lacerations, hemorrhaging of the bowels, heart and kidney, bruising all over his body and internal bleeding.

"I'm feeling sad, hurt, disgusted. My heart fell to my feet," Xavier's aunt told News4 prior to the arrest. "It was such a shock. This is tragic."

According to charging documents, police interviewed Frances Lyles' boyfriend several times during the investigation, and learned he had never beaten Frances' children.

<![CDATA[Md. Officials Announce Initiatives to Help Families Sponsoring Immigrant Youth ]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:49:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_immigration_deportation_detentions2.jpg

Maryland officials have announced three initiatives aimed at helping families who are sponsoring unaccompanied immigrant youth who have fled violence in Central America.
One of the initiatives announced Wednesday is a website that enables people to find resources in their area and provides service organizations a way to offer assistance.

The second is a 211 phone number people can call for help that includes English and Spanish speakers.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration also announced that a printed guide has been produced with information about major service providers across the state.
More than 2,800 children have been placed with sponsor families in Maryland by the federal government as they await legal proceedings.

<![CDATA[Police Continue Search for Missing Md. Toddlers]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:31:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007890961_1200x675_330438723616.jpg Police are trying a new strategy to keep search crews fresh and focused as they search the Darnestown and Clarksburg areas for Sarah and Jacob Hoggle. News4's Pat Collins reports.]]> <![CDATA[Patrick Kennedy Joins Campaign Against Pot Legalization in DC]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:37:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007890021_1200x675_330416707966.jpg Former U.S. congressman Patrick Kennedy and DC leaders kicked off a new effort to block the legalizaton of marijuana in the District. News4's Mark Segraves has more on why they want residents to vote "no" on a ballot initiative.]]> <![CDATA[Lost History: Hunting for WPA Paintings]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:25:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*132/iris+garden.jpg

Federal agents are hunting for historic paintings produced by Americans during the Works Progress Administration, the landmark Great Depression program to support destitute artists.

A review by the News4 I-Team found an overwhelming number of the 200,000 paintings are considered missing, their whereabouts actively being sought by agents of the U.S. General Services Administration Inspector General and the General Services Administration’s division of fine arts.

Beginning in 1935, the Works Progress Administration, which employed thousands of artists and paid some $42 a week for their work, produced artwork for public buildings. The paintings were distributed nationwide and were catalogued in hand-kept records. All but 20,000 of those pieces have since been lost, stolen or misplaced, according to the I-Team review. Efforts to recovery have been slowed by the lack of modern records and the loss of identifiable plaques and markers on the paintings themselves.

“I'm not sure things were catalogued or organized in those days,” Acting GSA Inspector General Robert Erickson. “People didn't put the value on them that they do today.”

Federal agents are actively searching for WPA pieces, including a regular review of eBay and other websites on which items are traded or sold.

“If you go on eBay right now and search 'WPA,' you're going to get about 2,700 hits,” GSA Inspector General special agent Eric Radwick said.

Knowingly selling or buying WPA is a federal crime because the paintings are forever considered property of the U.S. government.

Investigators said thefts have occurred, including in recent years. “December in Venice,” a famed WPA piece by artist Charles Polowetski , was stolen from the walls of the Mills Mansion in upstate New York in 2008. Agents said a tourist who’d just signed the mansion’s guest book and placed $2 in a donation box is suspected of stealing the painting. It has not been recovered.

Federal agents said all WPA artwork are technically “priceless” because they cannot be sold or purchased. But a recent appraisal found “14th Street at 6th Avenue,” a landmark WPA painting by John Sloan portraying a New York City intersection amid the Depression, was worth an estimated $750,000.

Brian Miller, a former Inspector General for the General Services Administration, helped launch the agency’s efforts to recover the pieces.

“Unfortunately, many of these pieces have been missing for decades,” Miller said. “And (until now) people didn’t even know we were looking for them.”

A man in Berryville, Virginia, recently discovered a piece of WPA in his living room and turned it in to federal investigators, according to Miller. The piece, “Iris Garden,” had been hanging in a Berryville elementary school and was given to the man by a staffer when the school underwent renovation. The “Iris Garden” was lent to a museum for display soon after.

<![CDATA[Nationals Fans Already Thinking World Series]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:40:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000007890488_1200x675_330426947704.jpg The excitement over the Washington Nationals clinching the playoffs has made for some very confident fans. Wednesday, some fans were already buying tickets to the World Series. The team is so hot, Bryce Harper even has his own fire helmet from D.C. Fire. News4's Chris Gordon reports on the fan excitement from Nationals Park.]]> <![CDATA[Two Maryland GameStop Stores Robbed in Past Week]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:57:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GameStop+Robbery+Surveillance.jpg

Police are looking for the people involved in two armed robberies that took place Friday and Tuesday.

A surveillance video (below) from Friday shows three men walking around outside of a GameStop store in the 5700 block of Silver Hill Road in District Heights, Maryland. They then pull down masks and walk into the video game store, one armed with a gun.

The men patted down customers, took their belongings and demanded cash from the register. Before leaving the store, all three grabbed store merchandise.

Surveillance video (below) from Tuesday shows a robbery which may be related.

Two men in masks enter a GameStop store on the 6200 block of Livingston Road in Oxon Hill.

One pulled out a gun and demanded cash from the clerk. They grabbed cash and merchandise before leaving the store.

If you recognize any of these people or have information on this case, please call 301-772-4905. You can also call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.

A cash reward is being offered in this case.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Concierge Accused of Stealing Alcohol From Residents]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 06:08:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/brooke+chrzan2.jpg

The front desk concierge at an Arlington, Virginia, apartment complex has been charged with stealing alcohol from the building's residents, police said Tuesday.

Officers were called to the Meridian at Courthouse Commons in the 1400 block of N. Taft Street on Monday. According to police, a camera set up in one of the apartments caught 27-year-old Brooke Chrzan as she entered the apartment and drank the resident's alcohol.

Chrzan of Bethesda was charged with burglary and released on bond.

<![CDATA[Caps Release Training Camp Roster, Schedule]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:29:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/477358803+%281%29.jpg

With the 2014-15 NHL season fast approaching, the Washington Capitals officially unveiled their complete training camp roster and schedule Wednesday afternoon.

In all, 66 players will participate in practices beginning Friday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. All sessions are free and open to the public.

The Capitals commence their eight-game preseason schedule Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center. They will have until Oct. 7 to trim down their roster to 23 prior to their season opener against the Montreal Canadiens two days later.

The entire roster and schedule can be found here

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged With Attempted Abduction Outside Mall]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:12:08 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/serrano.jpg

Police have made an arrest in the attempted abduction of a woman near Potomac Mills.

The 34-year-old victim was standing next to her car in the area of Potomac Mills Circle and Nazarene Way the night of March 20 when she was approached by a man asking for directions. As they spoke, the man grabbed the victim and began to choke her, continuing to do so as he forced her to the ground.

The man demanded the victim's keys and tried to force her into the backseat of her vehicle, police said. Following a struggle, the man ran from the area.

The woman suffered minor injuries.

Using DNA evidence, police say they were able identify the suspect as 33-year-old Victor Alberto Serrano. He has been charged with abduction with intent to defile and strangulation.

Serrano is being held without bail. He will appear in court on Oct. 10.

<![CDATA[How to Make Armenian Sugar Cookies]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:48:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/2014-09-17_1314.png

The annual Armenian Festival and Bazaar is taking place this weekend in Bethesda.

Akabi Atamian and Anne Dardarian stopped by News4 Midday to share a taste of the annual event, including a cookie recipe.


  • 2 cups of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup roasted almonds or walnuts, chopped
  • 4 cups flour
  • powdered sugar to coat


  1. Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. Add flour gradually and beat well.
  3. Add nuts and vanilla.
  4. Shape into small balls and bake in 325° F oven for 15 to 18 minutes.
  5. Roll in powdered sugar.

<![CDATA['Affirmation': New Citizens Sworn in on Constitution Day]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:43:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/US+Constitution+We+the+People.jpg

Kelvin Mulembe took his oath of citizenship Wednesday, and found it felt like affirmation.

"It's affirmation that I have gifts and talents that I can contribute to the development of this community that I am joining," said Mulembe, who took the oath in Washington, D.C. surrounded by the historical documents of the National Archives. "It's also just confirmation to me that I am accepted."

Thirty-six people were sworn in Wednesday in the Archives' Rotunda, which is home to the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights.

The ceremony was one of more than two dozen nationwide held on Constitution Day, which celebrates the day in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign what would become the U.S. Constitution.

This year is the 227th anniversary.

While welcoming new Americans into the country, the organizers of this year's Constitution Day are also trying to help Americans already here understand the Constitution and the government it formalized.

In a new survey, only a little more than a third of those asked could name all three branches of the U.S. government; 35 percent could not name a single one.

And only 27 percent of those surveyed knew a a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate was required to override a presidential veto, according to the survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In response to the lack of civics understanding, a group of non-partisan organizations came together Wednesday to launch the Civics Renewal Network, "to raise the visibility of civics education and to make high-quality resources more accessible to teachers," according to the Network's website.

And schools tried to make it fun. More than 550 schools across the country joined the effort by reciting the Constitution's Preamble.

That included 50 students who gathered at the Capitol from across the country, chosen because they had developed civics projects that helped their home communities.

Many of the festivities -- and the feelings behind them -- were shared on Twitter using the hashtag #ConstitutionDay2014.

"This is the fun part of being a judge," said U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over Mulembe's ceremony. "No one loses, there's no litigation. ... We're all winners. America wins because we have new Americans, and the new Americans win because they have a new home."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wildfire Devastates Calif. Town]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:02:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/catholicchurch.JPG

A fast-moving wildfire ripping through the small Northern California town of Weed has destroyed more than 150 homes, churches and structures, injured three and charred 375 acres, Cal Fire crews said.

As of Wednesday night, the devastating Boles Fire along Siskiyou County's Boles Creek was 60 percent contained. Cal Fire officials said any information as to the cause of the fire could be worth a $10,000 reward.

Evacuation orders were still in place, and residents were asked to temporarily find shelter at the Mt. Shasta Armory. Highway 97 also remained closed.

Mary Niblock was one of the nearly 3,000 people forced to flee. Despite the major loss, she was thankful to the almost 970 fire personnel were battling the fire, which was reported on Monday. Firefighters received a standing ovation Tuesday night during a community meeting.

"There aren't enough brownies in the world," she told NBC Bay Area. "You can't thank them enough. They saved the town."

Much of the town, however, suffered major damage. That includes many homes, a Catholic Church and the Grace Community Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and part of the elementary and high schools. Their scorched remains were reduced to gray ash and rubble. Burned out vans, cars, stoves and other residential belongings were littered throughout residential neighborhoods.

Much of the challenge to fighting the fire was due to the weather, including gusting winds and low humidity. Winds gusting at up to 40 mph were pushing the flames toward the city of Weed, which sits at the base of Mount Shasta, halfway between San Francisco and Portland.

The city is known for its funny jokes about "weed" and more historically, as a lumber town.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 Anyone with information should contact 1-800-468-4408.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Continental Recalls 8,070 Motorcycle Tires]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:56:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/161616958.jpg

Continental Tire the Americas, LLC is recalling several types of Continental motorcycle front wheel tires.

The recall is due to a possible separation between the tread, belt and carcass, which could result in a loss of tire inflation pressure, increasing the risk of a motorcycle crash.

The affected tires include: ContiAttack SM, ContiSportAttack, ContiSportAttack2, ContiRaceAttack Comp. Soft, ContiRaceAttack Comp. Medium, ContiRaceAttack Comp. Endurance, and ContiRoadAttack 2 GTW motorcycle tires, in sizes 120/70ZR17 and 120/70R17.

The recall covers about 8,070 tires sold in the U.S. and Canada between 2007 and 2014, Continental said. It's part of a worldwide program affecting 170,000 tires.

Continental has not received any reports of accidents or injuries, but the safety recall is to avoid any potential risk to road-users, the company said on its website.

Continental said it willy notify owners and dealers will replace the recalled tries with new ones free of charge.

For more information on the recall, visit Continental’s website or call 1-800-847-3349.

Photo Credit: Fast Bikes Magazine]]>
<![CDATA[Md. Coach Gets 7 Years in Girl's Sex Abuse]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:06:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Daniel+Mandel+Sirotkin+mug+shot.jpg

A private coach and tutor in Montgomery County has been sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Thirty-one-year-old Daniel Sirotkin of Germantown was sentenced Wednesday. He had faced a maximum of nine years.

Before the hearing, his attorney said Sirotkin isn't a pedophile, but fell in love with the girl.

The attorney, Gary Gerstenfield, says he argued for an 18-month prison term, saying that Sirotkin understands he was wrong and isn't a danger to the community.

Sirotkin pleaded guilty in May to sexually abusing a minor, soliciting a minor to produce child pornography and third-degree sex offense.

The victim says Sirotkin molested her between 2011 and 2013, beginning when she was 14. Sirotkin was her coach and tutor.

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Missing 18-Year-Old Kensington Woman Located]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:18:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/194*120/0916-shantol-anderson.jpg

Police say an 18-year-old woman who was reported missing from Kensington has been found safe.

Shantol Ramela Anderson was last seen in the 4100 block of Plyers Mill Road in Kensington, Maryland, when she got into the car of a person unknown to her family around 7:30 p.m. Her family reported her missing Sept. 15.

Police were concerned because Anderson functions at the level of a 12-year-old.

Authorities did not say where she was found.

<![CDATA[Police "Zero in" on Evidence in Lyon Sisters' Disappearance]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:01:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/168*120/lyon+sisters.JPG

Detectives have been searching a Virginia property for the past week in connection with the infamous disappearance of two young Maryland sisters decades ago.

The Lyon sisters -- Sheila, 12, and Katherine, 10 -- vanished March 25, 1975, from a Wheaton shopping center.

Montgomery County, Maryland, authorities have been searching a property located in Bedford County, Virginia, between Lynchburg and Roanoke since last week. It was once owned by the family of Lloyd Lee Welch, Jr., who is also known as Michael Welch. 

In February, Welch, 57, was named a person of interest in the Lyon sisters' disappearance. During a news conference Wednesday, police announced Welch's family members are also being investigated in connection with the Lyon girls' disappearance. They've zeroed in on Taylor Mountain, where they are looking to recover evidence "that will hold those that harmed those girls responsible in a court of law."

Detectives have not found any remains, sources said, though neighbors in the area think police are searching for remains at a nearby cemetery. 

The Bedford County Sheriff's Office confirmed that officers were assisting Montgomery County Police "with a homicide investigation."

They've said they're "very confident" they're close to finding out exactly what happened to the sisters.

The Bedford Sheriff's office also said cold case investigators had traveled to the area last week to meet with Bedford County authorities and Virginia State Police.

The Lyon sisters' case is etched into the memories of several generations of Washington-area families. It shattered a sense of safety in the D.C. suburbs and made parents afraid to let their children out of their sight.

On March 25, 1975, the Lyon sisters had a planned a day at a local shopping center. They were on spreak break, and wanted to get some pizza for lunch and see the Easter decorations at Wheaton Plaza, now known as Westfield Wheaton mall.

With less than $4, they left their home in Kensington, Maryland and walked the half-mile or so to Wheaton Plaza.

There, a friend saw the girls outside the Orange Bowl restaurant with an older man who had a tape recorder and a briefcase, according to news and missing persons reports.

The girls were later spotted walking home, but by their 4 p.m. curfew, they hadn't arrived. By 7 p.m. that night, police had been called.

Later, a composite sketch was distributed of the man who seen talking to them. Tips flowed in, but to no avail.

Sheila and Katherine were never seen again.

In February, police identified a person of interest in connection with their disappearance. Lloyd Lee Welch Jr., aka Michael Welch, is a convicted sex offender who has been in prison in Delaware since 1997 on a rape conviction. Welch was noticed paying attention to the sisters the afternoon they vanished, investigators said.

"Even though so much time has passed, we have not forgotten that those young girls deserve justice, and their family deserves closure," said Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger in February.


Welch is originally from the D.C. area. Between the 1970s and the mid-1990s, he traveled extensively through the United States while working for a carnival company with his girlfriend Helen Craver, police said.

Welch was charged with raping juveniles in Virginia and South Carolina. He was also arrested in a burglary not far from Wheaton Plaza. He was known to hitchhike throughout the D.C. area.

Many people who grew up in the area remember the disappearance of the sisters, and how deeply it shook their sense of safety.

"It was just stunning. It could have been anybody's kids," said Charleen Merkel earlier this year while shopping at Westfield Wheaton.

"It brings back a lot of memories of being scared growing up," said another shopper, who did not give her name.

In an era when children frequently walked to school and elsewhere alone, parents started keeping their children inside.

"The Community Just Held Its Breath"

In 2005, 30 years after the girls' disappearance, police spoke about the frustration of never being able to solve a case that struck such an emotional chord for the community and for themselves.

The Lyon sisters' older brother, Jay, became a police officer.

"It's a hit-home case," Philip C. Raum, a longtime law enforcement officer in Montgomery County who headed the police's Major Crimes Unit for four years, told Montgomery County's Gazette newspaper in an article on the 30th anniversary of the disappearance.

The girls' father, John Lyon was a popular radio personality on WMAL in Bethesda and performer. 

Radio personality Chris Core had just started working with him at WMAL when the girls disappeared.

"It's in that group of moments where the community just held its breath," Core told the Gazette in 2005.

"Partly because John was a well-known celebrity and partly because here are two innocent little girls going to the mall and disappear off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again."

Baltimore author Laura Lippman wrote a 2007 novel, "What the Dead Know," after being inspired by the Lyon case.

"The story... happened when I was a teenager, not much older than the girls who disappeared (the Lyon sisters) and living in a similarly 'safe' suburb," Lippman wrote in a chat on GoodReads.com. "It resonated very deeply with me."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: It’s Not Debatable…]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 05:42:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carol-schwartz-muriel-bowser-david-catania-1200.jpg

Something is going to happen that hasn’t happened all this campaign season on Thursday.

Mayoral candidates Carol Schwartz, David Catania and Muriel Bowser finally — some would say at last — will be on the same stage at the same time taking media and voter questions.

But don’t get used to it.

The candidate conversation Thursday night at the American University’s Katzen Arts Center is just one of four that Democratic nominee Bowser is agreeing to do. As recently as this week, her campaign declined to give any indication she might do more.

That’s bad news for some significant community groups that traditionally run candidates through a wringer of debates.

For example, the age-old Federation of Civic Associations and the Federation of Citizens Associations together represent about 75 neighborhood organizations. For more than four months they’ve been planning a forum for Oct. 21 at Eastern High School.

Catania said yes. Schwartz said yes. Bowser’s campaign hasn’t said anything.

One organizer, who said she’s tried to get a Bowser campaign commitment, sourly recalled a recent campaign event: “She has time to clean hotel bathrooms, but she doesn’t have time for us?”

In Southwest, community leaders like Andy Litsky are hosting a Southwest/Southeast mayoral debate Oct. 9 at Arena Stage. Participating groups include Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D, the longtime Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and the Navy Yard Neighborhood Association.

Schwartz said yes. Catania said yes. Bowser?

As of Monday, Bowser “has not even acknowledged the invitation,” Litsky said in an email to us. “We will have a chair on the stage with her name on it if she deigns to show up.”

The Catania and Schwartz campaigns said they also have invites from the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, anchor Bruce Johnson at WUSA-TV Channel 9, the Washington City Paper, the local AARP chapter and others.

Joaquin McPeek, Bowser’s press person, said Bowser stands by her Sept. 12 announcement on forums. In addition to American University on Thursday, Bowser has accepted the Oct. 2 debate being hosted by WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi at National Public Radio on North Capitol Street.

Bowser also agreed to the NBC4/Washington Post forum to be held Oct. 15 (and broadcast later by NBC4) and the Oct. 16 Ward 8 Collaborative Forum sponsored by 35 community groups.

Nearly every candidate for public office – especially for mayor — has groused at least a little bit about the wearying, dizzying pace of multiple forums, Bowser included. The marathon of events to win the April 1 Democratic Primary wasn’t that long ago. She’s now doing small-scale events every day, and her campaign says she’s meeting voters one-on-one all the time. Attending the forums is not seen as a necessarily efficient use of her time.

Her critics say Bowser isn’t good in debates and is making a campaign gamble that voters won’t care enough about her absences to affect the outcome.

Schwartz is making her fifth run for mayor and is a veteran of citywide council races.

“I think that [Bowser’s decision] is very worrisome,” she told NBC4 on Monday. “I think voters want to see debates, see us in person, and they want to ask us questions.”

Catania, who released a 126-page platform of ideas and issues on Monday, said voters need more from unsheltered candidates.

“There’s simply no way that voters are going to be able to come away after four debates with an understanding of what me and my opponents would like to do as mayor,” Catania said.

■ Statehood fantasy. If you’re tired of fantasy football, you can start a new game of fantasy statehood.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., held a well-attended hearing on D.C. statehood Monday. Well, it was well-attended by citizens. Not many senators show up on Mondays or Fridays on Capitol Hill. And certainly not for D.C. statehood.

Carper gave an impassioned opening statement in favor of full American citizenship for D.C. residents.

“My goal for this hearing is to educate a new generation of people about this injustice and restart the conversation about finding a thoughtful solution,” he said. “We have tolerated this situation for a long time.”

But just to be clear, there is no plan to bring the statehood issue to a vote in committee or, even less likely, on the Senate floor. And after November’s elections, the Democrats may lose control of the Senate to Republicans.

Fantasy football, anyone?

■ Food for thought. The DC Central Kitchen, which does hard-core work to help feed the neediest among us, is holding a fundraiser Thursday. It’s at 6 p.m. at the Liaison Capitol Hill Rooftop Pool & Bar, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW.

Participants will be celebrating a new book, “The Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First 25 Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty.”

The heartfelt story is told by Alexander Justice Moore, the kitchen’s chief development officer. It tells the story of Robert Egger, “the cocky nightclub manager” who opened the kitchen and changed the face of poverty assistance in Washington. It’s a good read to pick up even if you can’t make the party.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Andy Jones / Liz Lynch]]>
<![CDATA[Man Pickpockets Woman on NYC Subway]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:43:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/165*120/times+square+pickpocket.JPG

Police arrested a thief in the Times Square subway station Tuesday after they watched him pickpocketing a sleeping woman on live video, the NYPD said.

The thief apparently saw the woman sleeping on a bench on the subway platform just after 12:30 a.m.  and went to sit behind her, according to police.

Video shows a man slowly and deliberately reaching into the woman's pocket and pulling out a cellphone.

An officer monitoring the department's closed-circuit camera system at the subway station saw the theft in progress and alerted a patrol officer nearby.

That officer arrived on the scene and arrested the suspect, identified as Juvian Rodriguez.

Police said Rodriguez has 38 prior arrests on charges including grand larceny, assault and drugs. He was on parole for grand larceny at the time of his arrest, police said.

It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

<![CDATA[Find Hannah: Police Continue Search for Missing U.Va. Student]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1486824_711449072258677_4131817656415730404_n.jpg

Police are studying new video that shows a missing University of Virginia nursing student, hoping that the sighting outside a pub in Charlottesville will help them narrow their search for her.

Hannah Elizabeth Graham, 18, from Fairfax County, has been missing since Saturday.

The new video shows her outside McGrady's Irish Pub, then walking east along Preston Avenue in Charlottesville at 12:46 a.m. Saturday. 

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends," Graham's family said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "She is highly responsible and organized. She embraces life with energy and enthusiasm and has enriched the lives of many. Her empathy is evident in her daily interactions with us and her friends."

Stephen Rice, the band director at her alma mater, West Potomac High School, which she graduated from last year, agreed. "Hannah is not the kind of kid that would just go on a road trip and disappear," he said. "She was always very diligent with everything she did, and always did everything exactly by the book."

Police have started searching in the area of Grady and Preston avenues in Charlottesville. Previously, they had used a bloodhound to search a large area northeast of the university on Monday and found no trace of Graham.

The FBI has confirmed that it is involved in the search, saying only that it is providing investigative resources to local police. Albemarle County's search and rescue teams also lent a hand to Charlottesville Police Tuesday in their search for Hannah.

"We're mostly giving them some extra eyes and feet on the ground to actually cover more area quicker. In these searches, time is of the essence in trying to find someone," said Bobby Shiflett with Albemarle County Sheriff's Office. 

Graham, who is originally from England, is 5 feet 11 inches tall with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles, according to university officials. She was last seen wearing black pants and a gold crop top with black mesh cutouts, according to surveillance photos taken Friday at her apartment.

Police said Graham's friends reported her missing Sunday after realizing nobody had seen or heard from her since early Saturday morning, when she sent a text message to a friend after leaving a party around 1:20 a.m.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement saying the community is "united in our deep concern'' for the Fairfax County second-year student.

Graham's parents have left their home in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County to go to Charlottesville to help look for her, and a "Help Find Hannah Graham"' page has been established on Facebook.

"I just want her home safe. I'm scared for her," said Karen Blunk, who lives next door to Graham's parents. "Just from the standpoint of, you hear horrible things."

In October 2009, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing after leaving the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert. Her remains were found three months later in a rural area. No arrests have been made.

"It's hearbreaking to know that another young woman is missing and that another family is going through the anguish of the missing priod," Harrington's mother said.

At least two other young women, both 19 years old, have also disappeared in the area in recent years. Samantha Ann Clarke vanished after leaving her Orange County townhouse in September 2010. DaShad Laquinn Smith disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012. Neither have been found.

Anyone with information regarding Graham's whereabouts is asked to call a 24/7 tipline at 434-295-3851.

<![CDATA[Freak SoCal Downpour Wreaks Havoc]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:40:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/elsinoretrack.JPG

Driving rain and wind socked the Inland Empire Tuesday afternoon, flooding streets, school buildings, a school track and a general aviation airport and causing havoc for drivers.

It rained up to 30 minutes in neighborhood Canyon Lake, just east of Lake Elsinore.

The rain flooded roadways in minutes.

Some roads were nearly covered in water, making driving conditions extremely dangerous.

At Elsinore High School in Wildomar, about 20 classrooms suffered water damage. Crews were working late into the night Tuesday to remove water, but the school has implemented a contingency plan and reassigned classrooms for Wednesday.

Heavy winds also caused damage. An outhouse was blown apart and exploded onto the track at Elsinore High School.

Wind knocked down power lines and trees.

Karen Fisher was getting gas for her generator because her power was out.

"It was hot, really hot out," Fisher said. "All of a sudden, it came in like crazy. It just started raining ... like little droplets. And it looks like everything is flooding right now."

A large limb knocked out power for several hours in the area. 

"It looked like a tornado," said Crystal Thibeault. "The winds got really, really strong. We had our trash cans that blew all the way across the parking lot. It's zero visibility. It was really crazy."

Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.