Arrest in Alexis Murphy case, missing Hollymead homeowners’ funds, and herbicide: News briefs

Randy Allen Taylor. Photo: Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. Randy Allen Taylor. Photo: Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

Check daily and pick up a copy of the paper Tuesday for the latest Charlottesville and Albemarle news briefs and stories. Here’s a quick look at some of what we’ve had an eye on for the past week.

Alexis Murphy abduction suspect held in Albemarle 

Police announced Monday that they have arrested 48-year-old Randy Allen Taylor for abduction in connection with the case of still-missing 17-year-old Nelson County resident Alexis Murphy. The arrest came eight days after Murphy left her house to go shopping and never returned.

Taylor is being held without bail at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail ahead of an appearance in Nelson County District Court later this week.

Police and FBI officials told reporters in a press conference Monday morning that they are still searching for Murphy, whose white Nissan was found in the Carmike Cinemas parking lot in Charlottesville last Tuesday. They’re urging anyone who knows Taylor or might have seen his car—a late-model GMC Suburban-like truck—to contact them.

Taylor was a suspect in the 2010 disappearance of Orange County teen Samantha Clarke, according to previous stories in The Hook. He was never charged in connection to her case.

Cops investigate missing neighborhood association funds

The news that more than $73,000 has gone missing from the Hollymead Citizens Association Board of Directors’ bank account has sparked a police investigation and concern among homeowners.

The board alerted residents last month that an independent auditor had discovered the unauthorized transactions, which took place between 2008 and 2012, The Daily Progress reported. In addition to unpaid payroll taxes dating to 2010, the auditor found discrepancies between checks cut and canceled and checks entered into the association’s accounting software.

According to the audit report, $25,000 of the misappropriated funds was returned. No one from the neighborhood’s board of directors, the audit firm, or Condominium Management of Charlottesville, which has been handling the association’s finances since earlier this year, responded to a reporter’s request. According to the Progress, it was a Hollymead resident who alerted the police to the matter, and many in the neighborhood are demanding leadership changes and more transparency from their board.

County residents can opt out of brush spraying 

Albemarle County residents can opt out of an herbicide spraying program implemented by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) that has sparked controversy here.

Charlottesville Tomorrow reported that VDOT plans to treat rural roadsides with Krenite S, a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency says cannot be used on cropland or areas with surface water. The EPA also requires use of the herbicide to be overseen by chemical handlers.

According to Charlottesville Tomorrow, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek is concerned that VDOT has disregarded rules and safety measures, and says she’s seen officials spraying the Moormans River.

The EPA is in the process of gathering more data about Krenite S, and is expected to release an evaluation of its effects by 2015. In the meantime, residents can call VDOT at 1-800-367-7623 to opt out of the spraying, which will begin August 26 and run through the end of September.

Roanoke gets rail

The success of the extension of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service through Charlottesville to Lynchburg has encouraged state and rail officials to sign an agreement stretching the line even further south to Roanoake.

State and rail officials inked the agreement last week, and Governor Bob McDonnell has committed $96 million to the rail extension, which would bring passenger train service to Roanoke for the first time in 34 years.

Connecting the busy rail line through central Virginia in 2009 was an unexpected boon for Amtrak, The Daily Progress reported. With 174,000 passengers in the last year, it’s become one of the few routes in the country that pays for itself.