Domestic Homicides

Must Be Addressed

I read the article,"Police in Fairfax Not Yet Alarmed by Homicides" [Metro, June 28] and am greatly disturbed at the lack of concern and knowledge expressed by our leaders.

I cannot believe that Supervisor Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield) could say that because "most of them are something that happened in a neighborhood, related to families. . . . I don't feel like it's outside crime coming in. That makes us feel a little better." And Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. could say that "In so many places, you've got some stranger attacking someone -- those are the cases that give me concern. . . . But the domestic ones, they tend to happen. There's no way for us really to do much to prevent those."

The fact that this crime is happening in our homes, at the hands of family members and those known by the victims, should worry us even more. Our home should be the place we feel safest. And how can our commonwealth's attorney be passively raising his hands saying, "Oh well, these happen, there's nothing we can do?"

These homicides do not occur in a vacuum. Our leaders must understand that there are sometimes years of abuse, both physical and mental, leading up to these murders. Family/intimate partner violence is cyclical, and there is much in the way of intervention, education and holding perpetrators accountable that can and must be done.

Aviva Kurash


View of a Slaying Case

From a Victim's Family

I would like to set the record straight concerning the death of Jack "Steve" Cornejo, 23, which was reported in the June 28 Metro article "Police in Fairfax Not Yet Alarmed by Homicides."

Fairfax County police assure the public that they are not concerned about the homicide rate. Yet it appears to our family that they are not concerned enough about individual homicide cases, either.

Steve, my husband's nephew, was slain early on June 25, and by June 27 the police were attempting to close the case. Steve's alleged killer was released on his own recognizance because he claimed self-defense, even though he brutally beat Steve in the face and the head with a gun, which he later used to shoot him in the back. The beating was savage; these are not the actions of a person who is fearful for his life.

The Fairfax County Police Department is very clever to use a Hispanic officer as a spokesperson in this case, thereby attempting to conceal the perception that county homicides involving minority victims and white perpetrators are prosecuted less rigorously or, in some cases, not all.

Our family is heartbroken and outraged. [Robert F.] Horan [Jr.], the Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney, states that he will consider whether the alleged shooter acted in self-defense. We urge Mr. Horan to carefully consider his actions in this case.

Steve deserves for his killer to be brought to justice by being charged with and convicted of murder, and our family will move heaven and earth to make sure that this is done.

Margarita L. Melendez


Wondering Who Pays

For TVs at RECenters

This year the Fairfax County Park Authority raised the recreation center user fees. Last year I paid the senior citizen rate of $350 a year. This year I will have to pay at least $410 for a year.

I use the facilities at Spring Hill RECenter. Last week they installed six flat-screen televisions in the exercise and weight room. People desiring to listen to programs will need an FM radio with earphones. What a waste of money.

My question is, who is paying for these unnecessary TVs? Is the cost coming out of our fee increases? Or is it our tax money being wasted? TVs are something we do not need in recreation centers that are supposed to be self-supporting and funded by the users.

Stewart Buchanan

Falls Church

Claims, Process Faulty

In Stream Classification

On June 23, Fairfax Extra printed a letter from James L. Perry of Elm Street Development ["Stream 'Lost' Nothing in Development Plan"] in which he claimed to correct a number of inaccuracies in a June 2 letter submitted by the Wedderburn Neighbors Steering Committee ["Beware a Loophole in Stream Protection"]. Mr. Perry's letter contains statements that are themselves inaccurate, without basis in fact, and/or misleading.

Mr. Perry states that the stream section in question has gone dry every year except 2003. He presents no evidence to support that claim. Many local residents who spoke at the Fairfax County Planning Commission meeting on June 16 stated their observations that the stream has never gone dry. I can only guess that Mr. Perry is basing his statement on the reports of the landowners, who, at the moment, have a significant financial interest in the declassification of the stream in question. With no proof, this is a meaningless claim.

Next, Mr. Perry states that, given that the development plan has not changed as a result of this declassification, "Nothing has been 'lost.' " When the development plan was first submitted, the developers needed to request from the county a special exemption for permission to encroach on the resource protection area. If the stream is declassified, the developers no longer need to get an exemption.

What would be lost would be the opportunity for the citizens of Fairfax County, all of whom are affected when the Chesapeake Bay suffers, to weigh in on the special exemption. Make no mistake, the development plan does encroach on the stream in question, and the stream will indeed be disturbed.

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Perry that the county has established a staff of knowledgeable and talented professionals who have spent countless hours to make sure that they got it right regarding this section of the stream. Those staff members, in their 2003 report, found the stream to be "definitely perennial."

The bureaucratic disinterest mentioned in the June 2 letter refers to the process by which the hard work of those staffers, paid by our tax dollars, can be overturned without independent review, based on the presentation of a few photographs taken by a consultant paid by the hopeful developers of this property.

Elaine Wolf Komarow