Tag Archives: Sad Stories

Excuse me… You’re indicted

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

So, I was in the awkward and unenviable position today to tell a woman she’s been indicted by a grand jury in the death of a little boy. I found out around 9:10 this morning that a grand jury had indicted the owner of the Yellow Brick Road Day Care on felony child neglect. It also upgraded the charge against the owner’s son to involuntary manslaughter. (The day care is where 13 month old Andrew Johnson was accidentally left in a van for 7 hours in 84 degree weather.) 

Upon learning of the indictments, I immediately set out for the day care. I knew I was the only reporter who had a lead on this story and I quickly realized Valerot Whitlow probably did not know she was now charged with a crime. (I was right) So, I decided to call her cell. She answered and I went for it… “I’m sorry, but I have bad news for you.  Valerot but you’ve been indicted by a grand jury for felony child neglect.” Now, It’s my job to get reaction and I hated having to tell her, but I also knew I had a responsibility to find out what was going on. Valerot was shocked and quickly got off the phone to call her attorney. I found out a few hours later that she’d turned herself into Richmond Police to be processed. This is such a tough story all around. You have a darling little boy that is gone and a tragic accident. Tough day. Tough choices. We’ll be following this case closely in the courts.  



Filed under Sad Stories

Virginia Tech: Two and a half years later?!?!

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

You mean to tell me, the former director of Virginia Tech’s mental health facility just happened to have Seung Hui Cho’s medical records in his house for 2 1/2 years!!!!  You’ve got to be kidding me?!?! How could those records never have surfaced during the state’s investigation into the massacre? Was the former director ever interviewed? Why did he have student records at home? And why did he STILL have them after leaving office? Seriously, this is ludicrous! I know I usually just write about Richmond, but this story really gets to me. As many of you may know, I was at Virginia Tech the morning of the shooting working as a journalist for WDBJ. I heard the frantic calls by police for help. I heard the shooting in the background on my police scanner. I witnessed the faces of everyone in the room when VT President Charles Steger first addressed the world and said “20 fatalities and that was a ballpark figure.” I was on that campus for 72 hours reporting non-stop. I saw the faces of countless family members as they learned what happened to their loved ones. I met many of them personally. I will never, EVER forget. And to hear that Cho’s missing medical records were in a house and never reported to police for the last 2 and 1/2 years??!!?! It makes me wonder what else was missed? What else is out there? What else we can learn from this terrible event?

April 16th still gets me. (That cold, breezy Monday.) Even now.


Filed under Not Richmond, Uncategorized, Virginia Tech

Sick of Sad Stories

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Sorry for the delay but I was enjoying the long holiday weekend. Coming back to work is never fun after a long break, but this time it was especially difficult. It appears I’m destined to cover sad and unusual deaths this week. Yesterday, Eric Driver was indicted on a second degree murder charge. He’s the college student who shot and killed a man breaking into his girlfriend’s car. We went back to Union Hill Monday to the intersection where the shooting happened. Folks in the neighborhood have very strong opinions on his indictment. And there seems to be no middle ground here either. People either believe Driver was in the right or they don’t.  It’s going to be interesting to see what a jury of his peers decides if this case gets that far.

Today I have the misfortune of reporting on a terrible tragedy. A 13 month old boy was left in his day care van and died. The driver’s been charged with felony child neglect. I can’t imagine what the little boy’s family is going through. They trusted the facility to care for their son. And then to think of the man who left the child in the van. He must be heartbroken. I covered a story like this when I worked in Blacksburg, VA. A mother thought she had dropped her child off at daycare and went to work. She never took the child inside and when she returned to her car after work, her child was dead in the back seat. So terrible. Sometimes the bad news just gets to you. Hoping for a much lighter day tomorrow.

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Filed under Crime