Police in Fairfax County, Va, say they believe the remains of a female found in a pond Sunday afternoon are those of a 17-year-old girl who was assaulted and disappeared hours earlier while walking with a group of friends.
It is not being investigated as a hate crime, police say.
Twenty-two-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling, Va. was arrested Sunday in connection with the murder, Fairfax County police say. NBC Washington reports that he appeared in court Monday and has been charged with murder.
— Fairfax Co. Police (@fairfaxpolice) June 19, 2017
Police have not yet released the name of the victim, but she has been identified by community members and relatives as Nabra Hassanen of Reston, Va.. At roughly 4am, NBC Washington writes, “she and her friends were headed to an all-night prayer session at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center after getting food when they got into a dispute with a man in a car. The man got out of his car, assaulted the victim, and she became separated from her friends.
A press statement from the ADAMS Center adds:
Community members came across the group and directed them to ADAMS Center. Immediately thereafter, the ADAMS’ personnel notified both Loudon County and Fairfax County authorities who immediately began an extensive search to locate the missing girl.
“We call on law enforcement to investigate and determine the motive of this crime and prosecute to the full extent of the law,” the center said.
The Washington Post reports on a heartbreaking scene Sunday night in Nabra’s apartment, where, absent its normal laughter, sobs of 30 women were heard, including that of her mother, Gazzar. “I lost my daughter, my first reason for happiness,” Gazzar said on the phone in Arabic to her brother and sister in her native Egypt.
Nabra, the news outlet writes, was not typically religiously observant, and was wearing an abaya, an outer garment worn by some Muslim women, that she borrowed from her mother.
The Post continues:
The night before, Gazzar had cooked a feast for Nabra, the oldest of her four daughters, who wanted to host a big iftar break-the-fast dinner for all her friends from ADAMS and South Lakes High School, where she just finished 10th grade.
The iftar was packed—Nabra was always popular and sociable. And when it ended, a friend’s mom drove some of the teens to ADAMS for the midnight prayers that mark the last 10 days of Ramadan.
A crowdfunding page has been set up to help the family. As of this writing, it has raised $153,966, surpassing its $150,000 goal.
The attack occurred as a man in London plowed his van into a group Muslim worshipers outside a mosque, killing at least one person.