manassas journal messenger 01/10/01



January 10, 2001




testify against Wheeler


Patrick Wilson




MANASSAS – No witnesses saw the beating of Enrique Raul Elizarbe in

the Woodbridge warehouse where he worked. Many don’t remember hearing about

the homicide, which took place in 1985.

No one ever confessed to the crime, which resulted in the death of Elizarbe,

an immigrant from Peru who worked hard and played by the rules.

But Prince William prosecutors told a jury Monday that despite a lack

of direct evidence, there is enough circumstantial evidence in the case

to convict Rowland Alfonso Wheeler of Elizarbe’s murder.

Wheeler, 43, is standing trial on a charge of first-degree murder after

pleading not guilty Monday. His trial in Prince William Circuit Court is

expected to last at least three days.

Wheeler was a suspect when the homicide originally happened on Feb.

26, 1985, but police did not believe there was enough evidence to charge

him. The case was reopened two years ago by the “cold case” unit

of the Prince William police.

Wheeler and Elizarbe were working at the Newlon Transfer moving company

warehouse on Farm Creek Drive in Woodbridge the day Elizarbe was beaten.

Wheeler told police at the time – and again in 1999 – that he found Elizarbe

beaten, assisted him, and called for help.

There’s no doubt that Elizarbe was murdered. His head was hit at least

three times with a green crowbar, which was found in the warehouse. His

scalp had the green paint on it, and the inside of the warehouse was covered

with his blood.

The question is: Did Wheeler do it? Assistant Commonwealth’s attorneys

James A. Willett and Richard A. Conway say he did, and say they can prove


“[Investigators] don’t want to bring a case like this before jurors

like you unless they are sure they have the evidence,” Willett told

the jury in an opening statement. “And I promise you, Mr. Conway and

I are sure we have the evidence.”

Wheeler and Elizarbe were the only people working in the building most

of the day, Willett said. When authorities asked a still-conscious Elizarbe

if he knew who had beaten him, he said it was a co-worker, Willett said.

But when they asked who, Elizarbe was unable to respond.

The shoes Wheeler wore that day, which were taken by police and tested

at a forensic lab, had a small amount of blood on them, and blood had been

cleaned off the boots, Willett told jurors. That evidence would not have

been available 16 years ago, he said.

Wheeler changed the story he originally told police, Willett said.

And there was a “massive effort” to clean up the blood in

the warehouse. Willett asked why a stranger off the street would try to

clean the warehouse after beating Elizarbe.

Wheeler had been on friendly terms with Elizarbe and once sold him a

television, testified Elizarbe’s sister, Sylvia Elizarbe Romero. Prosecutors

believe Wheeler stole several hundred dollars cash that Elizarbe was known

to have been carrying the day he was attacked. The cash was not recovered.

Donald R. Daugherty, Wheeler’s attorney, said prosecutors don’t have

any more evidence now than they did 16 years ago.

Daugherty said Wheeler had “absolutely nothing” to do with

Elizarbe’s death, but tried his best to help the man after he found him


“Because he was there, because he had the opportunity the commonwealth

has decided to prosecute him for this crime,” Daugherty said.

Wheeler, who worked for United Airlines prior to his arrest in August

2000, had recently moved to Detroit from the Washington area.

Prosecutors called two Prince William police officers Monday who had

responded to the beating – Dennis Mangan, who is now a detective, and James

R. Fry, who is no longer with the department.

Today, prosecutors will call other authorities, including Detective

David C. Watson, who helped investigate the case in 1985 and reopened it

two years ago.

Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. denied a request by news media to take

pictures in the courtroom during the trial.



Airport on the agenda


Chris Newman




The groundwork is being laid this week for runway expansion and a new

Freedom Museum facility at the Manassas Regional Airport.

City Council approved funding for two environmental studies Monday that

will replace studies done in the mid-1990s that the Federal Aviation Administration

informed the city a year ago were outdated and inaccurate.

The environmental assessment and flood plain mapping, which will be

performed by Campbell & Paris Engineers, is required before the city

can rebuild and extend the airport’s long runway, said City Manager Larry


The 5,700-foot long runway if extended by 1,000 feet would allow for

larger propeller jets, Hughes said, allowing the airport additional flight

operations. The 700-acre airport, which has seen annual flights drop from

160,000 to 130,000 since 1993, has struggled to fill its $4 million terminal

built in 1996 and has filled space by allowing the Freedom Museum to temporarily

locate inside the terminal in 1999.

Flight operations at the airport are up 38 percent since last spring

when the rebuilding of the short runway was completed, Hughes said.

The impact study will not include the long runway extension, which the

FAA said is a project not ready to be pursued, Hughes told council.

A rebuild of the long runway would be done in phases to prevent closures

for extended periods longer than several days, Hughes said. The study will

determine the work needed on the runway bridges over Broad Run, how much

of the runway requires rebuilding versus repaving, and how taxiways and

tie-down areas could be redone, he said.

The Environmental Assessment update will cost $20,000, staff said. The

Federal Emergency Management Agency flood plain study will cost approximately

$49,600. The flood plain study is required in order to get FEMA approval

of proposed capital projects that include the runway extension. In a related

topic, the city council will meet with the Prince William County Board of

Supervisors at the airport tonight to discuss arrangements for the Freedom

Museum to lease 29 acres from the county to build a proposed $10 million,

100,000-square-foot hangar and museum facility.

The county land is adjacent to the Broad Run Virginia Railway Express


A 1999 George Mason University study estimated the museum would draw

750,000 to 1 million visitors annually, generating $2 to $3 million on $8

family fees.

The joint city-county meeting will show planners “where we go from

here,” said Charles Colgan II, who operates the museum. He said the

museum, which is envisioned to have operational vintage aircraft and tanks,

needs to negotiate runway access from the site with the city, which owns

the airport.


courthouse renovation planned


Caryn Goebel




Much needed office space, courtrooms and beds for maximum-security inmates

has the Prince William Board of County Supervisors reviewing master plans

for expansions at the Judicial Center and jailhouse.

The supervisors were briefed Tuesday on the project prior to a joint

meeting planned for tonight between the county and the Manassas City Council.

Both localities use the Judicial Center and Adult Detention Center and must

come to an agreement on how the 10-year project will be implemented and


“We need city input and to work cooperatively to make this a reality,”

County Executive Craig Gerhart said to the board.

The Judicial Center expansion will add 46,500-square-feet of office

space to the existing facility and renovate another 4,000 square feet, adding

another six courtrooms in the end. Architects recommend demolishing five

buildings in the vicinity, including the Prince William County Police station

on Mosby Street. The majority of police officers working from this site

would move to the station on the west end of the county. The Lee Avenue

buildings that house Environmental Health, the registrar’s office and the

health department would be relocated to leased space, county architect Lou

Ann Purkins, said. The buildings and grounds building at 9412 Peabody St.

would also be demolished, according to architect’s renderings.

“These are old, antiquated buildings that require a lot of maintenance,”

Purkins said.

The Judicial Center expansion is expected to cost more than $15.4 million

with construction slated to begin in October 2001 and take two years to

complete, Purkins said.

The expansion at the Adult Detention Center would add 200 maximum security

beds for local, state and federal inmates, Col. Glendell Hill, superintendent

of the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center, said. The

existing Main Jail, designed for an inmate population of 202, currently

houses 325 to 400 inmates. The average daily population of the detention

center’s three facilities reached its highest in November 2000, with 635

inmates being housed in the Main Jail, the medium-security location in Haymarket

and at the Iron Building, a low-security section of the detention center.

The Adult Detention Center expansion also includes the renovation of

23,000 square feet, restructuring the kitchen to feed inmates in both the

new and older sections of the jail and upgrading the medical department

to handle twice as many inmates, Glendell said.

The detention center expansion is expected to cost more than $36.7 million.

Construction is slated to begin in July 2003 and take about three years

to complete. Administrative and inmate occupancy is scheduled for Fiscal

2006, Purkins said.

Once the detention center project is complete, the state is expected

to reimburse 50 percent of the construction costs, Gerhart said.

Purkins said architects took care in creating a judicial complex with

more open space, landscaping effects and twice the parking.

A complex of this scale would call for about 1,400 parking spaces. Currently,

the judicial center has about 812 parking spaces, much less than what’s

needed on a daily basis. When construction is complete, the complex will

boast about 1,800 slots, she said.

Looking farther down the road, Purkins said architects have outlined

two pad sites for more office space should it be needed in 20 or more years.

Also, six-acres of wooded lot behind the center is reserved for expansion,

possibly in 2020.



with a conservative edge


Bennie Scarton Jr.




While not yet threatening nationally syndicated radio show host Rush

Limbaugh, a Manassas competitor is quickly gaining prominence around the

country from his studio right here in town.

For the past two years Jim Metcalf, 38, has been taking to the airways

with his radio talk show “Street Smart.”

He, along with trusty sidekick/producer Bill Madden, applies a “take

no prisoners” approach to today’s current events and people, a plotical

show with a slightly conservative edge.

They broadcast from a high-tech studio they built at 8631 Mathis Ave.,

offering two hours daily of tough, no nonsense radio with a lot of humor

thrown in.

“My show is a little on the crazy side … we do a lot of sound

effects and never really take ourselves too seriously,” Metcalf said.

Like Limbaugh, the two scan the wire services, newspapers, Internet

for an update on current events, politics and people, and listen to callers

for material for the shows.

“We normally start getting our information about an hour and a

half before the show goes on the air … and are never at loss for material

to fill our two-hour show,” Metcalf said.

The show is taped from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily and sent out by satellite

to stations across the country. Various stations run the two-hour segment

at different times.

The show is currently being picked up by 34 stations at various points

across the country, from California to Florida to Massachusetts. Some of

the bigger metro areas picking up the program are Boston, Phoenix, Birmingham,

Key West, Nashville and Salt Lake City.

WLVA in Lynchburg, which covers that area as well as Roanoke, is

the lone state station picking up the program. However, local listeners

can pick up Street Smart on the Internet at

“It’s been estimated that we reach 350,000 listeners each day and

more than a million on weekends, when we offer the best of Street Smart,”

Metcalf, a resident of Manassas, said.

The show had its origins in April 1998 when Metcalf hosted a weekly

program on Alexandria-based business radio station WBZS AM 730, with Madden

as his producer.

“I was a guest on a show dealing with real estate finances when

manager Gary Dollarheight asked me if I wanted to do my own show. I told

him ‘sure,’ ” Metcalf said. He had been a disc jockey for years, spinning

tunes for weddings and parties but had never been an on-air personality.

He and his wife, Monika, live in Manassas with their four children.

Originally called “Street Smart Business,” it quickly evolved

from a business-oriented program to the current-events show heard today,

primarily, Metcalf said, “because it was more fun to do it that way

… and business-themed shows are, well, boring.”

After the business-radio station changed owners, it changed format and

went to an all-Spanish-language broadcast. And since neither Metcalf nor

Madden were fluent in Spanish, the show took a brief hiatus.

In August of last year, they hooked up with Ardent Partners radio, built

their own studio in Manassas, and have been rolling ever since. To boost

the number of stations, the two send out introductory tapes to stations

across the country urging they listen and giving them a chance to join their

networks of talk radio hosts.

“There are probably eleven or twelve hundred talk radio stations

across the country … with Limbaugh being the leader with more than seven

hundred outlets. We are striving to get to the one hundred mark that will

give us a strong voice with national advertisers,” Metcalf said.

Lots of formats work on the 10,000-plus radio stations across the country,

“but what does the market really hunger for? We believe it is a simple,

hard-charging talk show that’s the best of Liddy and Stern in one can such

as ours,” said Metcalf who casts a jaundiced eye in every direction during

this show.

Street Smart executive producer Madden brings with him a long career

in radio which he kiddingly says “has been pretty much useless in dealing

with Metcalf.”

He does serve as a sounding board and somewhat moderating influence,

although moderation is not often a word associated with the show. Considering

his ultimate goal was to host the revival of the former television show

“$25,000 Pyramid,” things have taken a bizarre twist for Madden,

career-wise, as he teams up with the tough-talking, joke-telling Metcalf

who gives “no bullcrap” responses to today’s events, politics

and people – particularly on the political spectrum.

“We hope our show is entertaining … that it brightens the day

for our audience,” Metcalf, who also enjoys being a reserve deputy for

Sheriff Lee Stoffregen, concluded.




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