Why we pulled the story with murder victim Raymond Wood’s uncle

WLNI news ran a story on air Friday afternoon — and posted it on our website and Facebook page — with an uncle of murder victim Raymond Wood in which he confirmed many of the details that have been rumored all week. We also ran a sound bite in which he said many of the things said about Raymond’s life were not truthful and were very hurtful to the family — and that Raymond was a good person. Several hours later, another family member contacted us and requested that we no longer air or show the story because it was causing them great pain. Even though the family member we interviewed  had voluntarily spoken with us, WLNI agreed to withdraw the story in order to honor a grieving family’s wishes.

We have been aware of many of the circumstances believed to surround Raymond Wood’s death all week, and until today, we have made conscious efforts, both on the Morning Line program and in newscasts, to avoid airing any unsubstantiated rumors. We did feel, however, that when a relative as close to an uncle voluntarily spelled out in certain terms what occurred the night of the murder, and that it corroborated what many people in the community had been hearing for days, that we could then present the story as useful information. For reasons explained above, however, we later changed that decision.

News decisions are sometimes difficult with conflicting factors in play; we want you to know what we did and why so you can form your own conclusions as to the wisdom, or lack of it, in either decision. Feel free to contact me at ejones@wheelerbroadcasting.com. Our Facebook page viewers are free, of course, to be part of the conversation.

Evan Jones, News Director

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Three men charged with Raymond Wood murder; sheriff says all are gang members, undocumented immigrants

Victor Rodas

Lasondro Vasquez

Jose Corea-Ventura

Three men described as undocumented immigrants and members of the gang MS13 are charged with the Monday murder of Raymond Wood. One is from Maryland, the other two from Lynchburg. Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown released some details of the investigation late this afternoon.
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All three suspects face second-degree murder charges. Prosecutors say they are looking into whether more people might be charged — and whether those already charged might face upgraded counts.

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City Council to Brabrand: must Lynchburg pay for special-ed instruction for non-city students?

Lynchburg City Council members are awaiting a report from School Superintendent Scott Brabrand on whether city taxpayers must foot the cost when city teachers provide special education instruction to students from outside Lynchburg. Council members seemed stunned this week to hear that students from surrounding counties who attend private schools in Lynchburg receive city-paid special ed assistance. Reporter Andre Whitehead spoke with Mayor Joan Foster:
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Brabrand told council members that Lynchburg is required by law to provide that assistance at any school within the city, no matter where the students come from. The question is who should pay when those students come from surrounding jurisdictions.

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“Suspicous subjects” call leads to lockdown at Madison Heights Elementary

A lockdown lasted for about 45 minutes this afternoon at Madison Heights Elementary School. It followed a call to the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office that two males were seen near the school, one possible possessing a handgun in a backpack. The lockdown was put into place as a precaution, and authorities say they found nothing to suggest there was any threat to the school.

From the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office: The office responded to the area of Learning Lane in Madison Heights around 1:00 p.m. today in regards to possible suspicious activity. The complainant stated that they had observed two male subjects, with one possibly possessing a handgun in a backpack. Deputies responded and as a precaution Madison Heights Elementary School was placed on lockdown while law enforcement searched the area. The lockdown has since been lifted due to no further belief of a potential threat to students or faculty. These types of calls are always taken seriously and approached with an abundance of caution. The decision to lockdown school facilities are done with the utmost safety of our children and school faculty in mind. We are sensitive to the reaction of parents when they are made aware of these lockdowns through word of mouth or social media. Our primary goal is always to address the potential of a threat, and secondarily get information out as quickly as possible to prevent panic on the part of concerned parents and love ones.

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UPDATE: Sheriff says as teen’s death investigation continues, no apparent danger to anyone else

Raymond Wood (Courtesy Wood family)

UPDATED Thursday: The Bedford County Sheriff’s office says there are no arrests yet in the death of 17-year-old Raymond Wood, but investigators say there is no information to suggest anyone else is in danger. Officials again say the investigation includes federal agencies, but the role of those agencies is not detailed.

PREVIOUSLY: The Bedford County Sheriff’s office confirms earlier reports identifying the person found dead Monday night as 17-year-old Raymond Wood of Lynchburg, and investigators are treating the case as a murder. There is no word yet on the cause of death. Woods’ body was found along Roaring Run Road in Goode. The sheriff’s office describes the investigation as “very fluid” and involving local, state and federal departments, and while no arrests have made, there is no apparent danger to the community.

(Continue reading for the full Bedford County Sheriff’s Office news release.)

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Third suspect in custody for Madison Heights barber shop parking lot murder

Rodney Hamlette

Kaitlyn Webber

Floyd Archie, Jr.

A third person charged with a Madison Heights shooting death last October is now in custody. The Amherst County Sheriff’s office says the U.S. Marshal’s office arrested 19-year-old Rodney Hamlette this morning in Baltimore, Maryland. Hamlette faces charges in the death of Troy Roberson, who was found fatally shot in a parking lot outside the barber shop where he worked. Two others already face charges: 19-year-old Kaitlyn Webber faces a first-degree murder count, and 18-year-old Floyd Archie Jr., is charged with second-degree murder.

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Liberty to host GOP gubernatorial debate

Ed Gillespie

Corey Stewart

Frank Wagner

Liberty University will host a statewide televised debate for the three Republican candidates for governor. Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner have all confirmed attendance for the debate the evening of April 13th. It will be viewable on line and televised locally on WSET-TV.

(Continue reading for the full Liberty University news release.)

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School rape reignites immigration debate; Goodlatte in prominent role

Rep. Bob Goodlatte

A school rape in Maryland allegedly involving two undocumented immigrants is reigniting the immigration debate, with 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte playing a prominent role in it. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more.

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Moneta man killed Bedford County accident

State Police have identified the victim of a Friday night traffic accident in Bedford County. Troopers say 58-year-old William Cadd of Moneta lost control of his SUV on Diamond Hill Road and struck an oncoming van. Cadd died at the scene. The van driver, 26-year-old James Kirk of Moneta, was transported for hospital treatment.

(Continue reading for the full State Police news release.)

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UPDATE: Stolen car, property inside it located

UPDATE: Lynchburg Police say the vehicle and property have been located.

PREVIOUSLY Lynchburg Police are looking for a car stolen from the Maple Ridge Apartments last Friday, a car the owner says was loaded with many personal household belongings – and two handguns – while in the process of moving. It’s a silver Chrysler 200 with Pennsylvania plates. The owner says the car was locked and there were no keys in it at the time.

(Continue reading for the full Lynchburg Police news release.)

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