Murder Charge in Boy's Disappearance

Boyfriend of 3-Year-Old's Mother Changed Story

Two weeks after a 3-year-old Caroline County boy disappeared in the care of his mother's boyfriend, the man has been charged with murder.

Herman L. Black, 45, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyreek Davis. Authorities would not say what evidence they have that the toddler, who has not been seen since Sept. 29, is dead.

Initially, Black told police that he left Tyreek asleep in a truck outside a Wal-Mart in Fredericksburg and that the boy was gone when he returned. A few days later, Black, who runs a woodcutting business, said that he left the boy in the woods in the morning while he went to do errands and buy drugs and that he had forgotten him. Helicopters, dogs and hundreds of people searched both areas without finding the boy.

Spotsylvania County Sheriff Howard D. Smith said Black had revised his account of Tyreek's disappearance at least three times. Smith would not elaborate.

A Greater Degree of Independence

Colleges Seek to Loosen Ties to State Government

The presidents of Virginia's three most prestigious public colleges formally launched a bid to convince state lawmakers that their institutions should have wide-ranging freedom from state control in exchange for a willingness to accept less public money.

The chief executives at the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech told a legislative panel that they plan to propose legislation in January that would transform the three colleges from state agencies into independent public entities with control of their budgets, tuition rates, procurement, capital construction and salaries.

School officials said they need the freedoms to compete for faculty, research dollars and top students with the country's top public and private universities.

Helping the Helpers

Prince William Kicks In for Care of Uninsured

Prince William County supervisors voted to give $275,000 to hospitals and medical providers to help them deal with the rising number of uninsured residents they are treating.

Two private hospitals in the county, Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge and Prince William Hospital in Manassas, together provided more than $40 million in uncompensated care in 2003, up from $30 million in 2002. Each hospital will get $100,000 in public funds to help defray costs. Three outreach health programs will receive $25,000 each.

Conviction in Charity Case

Man Denied Ties to Hamas Leader

A federal jury convicted a former businessman of lying about his ties to a terrorist leader, marking the second time Soliman S. Biheiri has been found guilty in a probe into whether Islamic charities in Northern Virginia were financing terrorist organizations.

Biheiri, 52, was convicted of concealing his business connections to Mousa Abu Marzook, a leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, who has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. government. The federal jury in Alexandria deliberated for two hours before reaching its verdict.

Across the Region

Building Up Metro; Cutting Back Noise

* Local governments have agreed to fund a $1.5 billion capital plan for Metro to buy rail cars and buses and pay for enough maintenance to "keep the system afloat" over the next six years, transit officials said.

* Reagan National Airport officials have recommended a series of changes, including routing planes over water instead of land, to cut noise over neighborhoods. Officials also supported varying the points where planes turn toward or away from the airport and installing new technology to monitor noise.

Gay rites: Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, blesses the Rev. Janice Robinson as her partner, Berit Lakey, watches.