Fatal Appalachian Trail attack spurs safety website revisions
ROANOKE — A fatal stabbing on the Appalachian Trail has led the nonprofit that manages the trail to revise its website for reporting safety issues and suspicious incidents.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy redesigned its safety and crime prevention page, which now features a bright red 911 button, a National Park Service phone number and the ability to submit an incident report from a cellphone. Previously, the form was a downloadable PDF that would have to be filled out and emailed back.
Conservancy communications manager Jordan Bowman told The Roanoke Times that the changes prompted by the May slaying make the resources clearer and easier to use.
Hiker and Army veteran Ronald Sanchez Jr. was stabbed to death on the trail in southwestern Virginia.
James Jordan of West Yarmouth, Mass., is charged with murder and assault with intent to murder in the attack on Sanchez and a female hiker whose identity has not been released.
Input sought on new area code in southeastern part of state
RICHMOND — Virginia state regulators are seeking public comments on a new area code in the southeastern part of the state as the 757 code runs out of new numbers. The State Corporation Commission said it plans to have four public hearings in August.
The North American Numbering Plan Administrator is recommending superimposing a new area code where the 757 code is currently used. That would mean local calls would require using 10 digits instead of seven.
The SCC could also split the area currently using the 757 code into two parts, meaning half of the current 757 users would get a new phone number. Such an option has not been used in the U.S. since 2006.
New 757 numbers are set to run out by the end of 2021.
Investigation of cockfighting in SW Va. results in 80 arrests
STUART — An 18-month investigation into a cockfighting ring in Southwest Virginia has led to the arrest of 80 people, many of them from North Carolina.
Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said over 50 officers from various law enforcement agencies made the arrests at a property in Claudville, just north of North Carolina’s Surry County, on June 1.
Smith said the property has been used previously for cockfighting, which is a felony under Virginia law. He said the evidence showed the ring is based in Mexico, with people from such states as Georgia and Texas participating.
The sheriff said investigators believe drug cartels used part of the money for other criminal activities. Numerous chicken carcasses were found along with several caged birds waiting to be fought, he said.
Roanoke woman gets 10 years in death of 7-month-old son
ROANOKE — A judge has ordered a Roanoke woman to serve 10 years in prison for the death of her 7-month-old son in 2016.
The Roanoke Times reports Nicole Aurlieua Zimmerman, 27, was sentenced Friday. She was convicted during a bench trial in October of felony homicide, child abuse and cruelty to children.
Sentencing guidelines in the case ranged from more than 13 years to 23 years in prison.
Judge Chris Clemens said he imposed a sentence below the guidelines partly because Zimmerman’s attorney presented evidence suggesting she has a lower mental capacity.
Her son died after being hospitalized on July 2016 with a brain bleed and retinal hemorrhages. A medical examiner during the trial said the boy died from blunt force likely caused from being shaken.