Crime Time all around

Hannah Graham
Hannah Graham

The prime suspect in the abduction and death of University of Virginia co-ed Hannah Graham last year is now charged with first degree murder and more and awaits his fate.

Forensics investigators say 18-year-old Graham died of “homicidal violence” after she disappeared from a night of partying in downtown Charlottesville.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. - the suspect
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. – the suspect

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., a former football and wrestling star at Monticello High School and a lab tech at the University of Virginia, is also “implicated” by DNA in the 2009 disappearance and murder of Morgan Harrington of Roanoke, who was attending a rock concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.  No charges, however, have been filed in that case.

An Albemarle County grand jury indicted Matthew for Graham’s murder.  He will be arraigned a week from today.

It would be nice to say such incidents are rare on college campuses in the Old Dominion and elsewhere but they are, sadly, deaths that occur far too often.

Students at Virginia Tech die from violence.

In Chapel Hill, just across the state line into North Carolina, three Muslims were gunned down.  A local man is charged with the murders.  Was it religious-based hate?

Even here in rural Floyd County, violence occurs far too often:  A young father kills his child, children are sexually assaulted and family members are too often brutalized by relatives.

I sit in court each week and see these cases unfold.  One case continued Tuesday involved rape of a family member.  Case after case shows up where a brother assaults another brother or sister or his mother or grandmother.

Too often, the crimes are not violent outright but are still violence against the peace and dignity of our community.

A once-prominent businessman in Floyd County, along with his war veteran son, went to prison for multiple counts of child pornography.  So did another young man found with such images in Indian Valley.

We have owners and employees of businesses before judges for embezzlement.  The owner of a real estate company admitted writing a bad check for more than $1,000 to a contractor just this week.

When I first started covering courts for The Floyd Press while still a high school student, Circuit Court met once a month in the Courthouse.  Now it meets just about every week and the docket grows each week.

Jury trials used to be rare.  Now they litter the court docket.  Crystal amphetamine production, distribution and use is an epidemic in Floyd County.  So are break-in, thefts from cars and other crimes that are often part of the drug culture.

A teenager disappeared from the county earlier this year.  Police found her in Arkansas with an older man who abducted her after arranging a meeting on-line.

The so-called “social media” online is more anti-social.  You wade through insults hurled at each other by participants along with threats and promises of retaliation.

Sadly, I even find some ministers joining in the feeding frenzy with threats of “damnation” or horrible punishments from perceived sins that appear to be based more on bias than any actual Biblical or religious doctrine.

Opponents of the current President call him a “traitor” or a “tyrant” or a “Muslim” or an “atheist.”  Democrats and Republicans call each other “traitors” or “non-patriots.”

Athletic fans of school or professional events invoke violence in their rhetoric when urging the outcome of a game.  How many times do shouts talk about “killing” or inflicting violence on the opposition in a game?  Too many times.

Writes Cheryl Danilewicz of The University of Nevada in Las Vegas in a recent study:

Youth sport events are part of a growing industry to which event venues are tailoring their policies, procedures, and designs.

The competitive nature of the events and their participants have caused these venues to examine their existing policies and adjust them to increase security and safety measures for the athletes, coaches, spectators, game officials, and venue staff. Tempers at these events will flare, and in recent years violence is becoming increasingly more common.

Parents and athletes have attacked each other, coaches, and game officials due to the intense nature of these events. The result of these ac ts could range from minor injuries to death.

At a holiday tournament at Fort Chiswell High School in Max Meadows, I saw police escort an angry man from the stands and place him under arrest after he screamed obscenities and threats at students and officials.  He was from Radford and saw him removed again at a game between the Floyd County Buffaloes and Radford.

Nowadays, it is “crime time” here, there and everywhere.

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