- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008



Woman fabricated rape story, police say

An 18-year-old woman was charged with filing a false report after she told police she was abducted while walking with her infant daughter in the Springfield area and raped, Fairfax County police said.

Police said Christina Arotoma-Quispe told officers she was carrying her 3-month-old daughter in a car seat outside the Commerce Plaza shopping center on Thursday when a man with a handgun in his waistband approached and threatened the baby. They said she told them the man forced her to walk along several streets and raped her behind a home, then fled.

Now, police say Miss Arotoma-Quispe made up the story. She is in custody at the Fairfax County Jail.


Mother indicted in heat death in car

A Blacksburg woman was indicted on two felony charges in the heat-stroke death of her young son, who was left in her car all day in early September.

The charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse and neglect against Mary Nelson Parks, 45, were made public yesterday.

Miss Parks found her toddler son Juan unresponsive in her car at the end of the workday Sept. 7 when she went to pick him up at Rainbow Riders day care center.

The Roanoke Medical Examiner’s Office said the boy, who was younger than 2, died of heat stroke.

Blacksburg police Lieutenant D.J. Davis said bond was set at $5,000, and the trial is scheduled for July 28 in Montgomery County Circuit Court.


Pilot, passenger ID’d in fatal crash

The men who died in a Chesterfield County plane crash Sunday were a father and his son.

Joseph Anthony Grana Jr., 40, of Florham Park, N.J., was the pilot of the 2000 single-engine Mooney aircraft that crashed into a house Sunday morning and burst into flames. His father, Joseph Anthony Grana Sr., 73, of Richmond was a passenger.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Tom Cunningham said the pilot was in Richmond for a family event. He said the men took off from the Chesterfield County Airport for Franklin, Va., just before the crash at about 10:20 a.m.

A woman in the house, Melissa Bowen, 22, was taken to VCU Medical Center with serious burns.


Judge hesitant about sentencing

A federal judge says he will not sentence a man convicted of bank fraud to a prison term unless he receives assurances the defendant will receive needed medications.

The Richmond case involves Charles Ellinger O’Brien, who pleaded guilty to stealing $450,000 from his former employer, SunTrust Bank.

Based on court testimony, O’Brien has bipolar disorder, suffered a brain injury in May 2004 and needs 10 or more daily medications.

While he says a prison term is appropriate, U.S. District Judge Robert Payne said he wants assurances that O’Brien receives medication at present levels.

O’Brien’s doctors say federal prison authorities want to change six to eight of the drugs once O’Brien is in their custody.

O’Brien faces a maximum term of 30 years in prison.


Sweet Briar College president to resign

Sweet Briar College President Elisabeth Showalter Muhlenfeld announced she will retire in June 2009.

Mrs. Muhlenfeld, who has been president for 13 years, said in a letter to the college community that the time is good for a transition. She said the Amherst County school is flourishing under a strategic plan implemented four years ago.

Board Chairwoman Virginia Collier said yesterday that as a result of Mrs. Muhlenfeld’s leadership the school has sound finances, modern facilities and strong academic programs and faculty.

College officials said that since 2004 the school has reduced endowment spending and increased enrollment about 20 percent. The school has about 675 students this year.

Mrs. Muhlenfeld is Sweet Briar’s ninth president.


Bundle that hit ship a ‘target’ or ‘camel’

The Army Corps of Engineers has figured out the likely origin of a huge bundle of wood that punched a hole into a cruise ship last fall cruising down the Intercoastal Waterway.

The corps concluded the 55-ton bundle of timbers was either a “target” or a “camel,” dating back more than a half-century.

A “camel” is a type of floating fender to protect vessels from damage at a pier, while a “target” was something towed behind vessels for Navy target practice.

The debris damaged the Spirit of Nantucket in November as it cruised through Virginia Beach. The captain grounded the ship, and it eventually was taken to a shipyard in Norfolk for repairs of a gash.

While no one was hurt in the waterway collision, the ship had to end its 10-day cruise between Alexandria and Charleston, S.C.



Father indicted in 3 children’s deaths

A Baltimore grand jury indicted a Montgomery County man on murder charges in the drowning deaths of his three children at a downtown hotel, prosecutors said.

The grand jury indicted Mark Castillo of Rockville on murder and child-abuse charges.

Police said Mr. Castillo told investigators he drowned the children — Anthony, 6; Austin, 4; and Athena, 2 — and then tried to overdose on an over-the-counter pain reliever and stabbed himself in the neck with a steak knife.

The children’s mother, Dr. Amy Castillo of Silver Spring, said days later that she did not notice anything out of the ordinary when her ex-husband took their children for a regularly scheduled visitation March 29.

His arraignment is scheduled for May 19.


Security enhanced at juvenile school

Operators of a privately run school for troubled juveniles in Western Maryland are boosting security in response to neighbors’ complaints about walkaways.

Alabama-based Three Springs Inc. said it is preparing to implement a system to alert neighbors immediately whenever students leave the 330-acre New Dominion-Maryland school without permission.

They also are considering contracting out security services to leave staff members free to care for the boys.

The school is licensed by the state Department of Juveniles Services. It serves about 32 boys ages 11 to 18 with emotional, behavioral or learning problems. Nearly 90 percent of them are under court order to attend an alternative school.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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