17-Year-Old Muslim Girl Assaulted and Killed After Leaving Mosque in Virginia

Relatives identified the slain teen as Nabra Hassanen, 17, right, of Reston. (All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center)
Relatives identified the slain teen as Nabra Hassanen, 17, right, of Reston. (All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center)

Police found remains Sunday thought to be those of a missing Virginia teenager who they say was assaulted and disappeared overnight after leaving a mosque in the Sterling area, and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.

The mosque, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling, and relatives identified the girl as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen of Reston.

Fairfax County police identified the man charged with murder in her death as Darwin Martinez Torres of Sterling.

According to accounts from police and a mosque official, a group of four or five teens were walking back from breakfast at IHOP early Sunday when they were confronted by a motorist. All but one of the teens ran to the mosque, where the group reported that the girl had been left behind, according to Deputy Aleksandra Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

“Immediately thereafter, the ADAMS’ personnel notified both Loudoun County and Fairfax County authorities who immediately began an extensive search to locate the missing girl,” the mosque said in a statement.

Loudoun and Fairfax police jointly conducted an hours-long search around Dranesville Road and Woodson Drive in Herndon, which is in Fairfax. Remains thought to be the girl’s were found about 3 p.m. Sunday in a pond in the 21500 block of Ridgetop Circle in Sterling. During the search, an officer spotted a motorist driving suspiciously in the area and arrested Torres, police said.

Police said they collected several articles of evidence but declined to provide further details.

The girl’s mother said detectives told her that Nabra was struck with a metal bat.

“I can’t think of a worse instance to occur than the loss of a 17-year-old on Father’s Day, as the father of a 17-year-old myself,” Loudoun County Sheriff Michael L. Chapman said.

A possible hate-crime motivation is among the things authorities are investigating, police said. Detectives think the remains are those of the girl, but the chief medical examiner’s office will confirm the identity and manner of death, Fairfax police spokeswoman Tawny Wright said.

Shoyeb Hassan, the co-chair of ADAMS, said that during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the mosque has extra prayers at midnight and 2 a.m., and members frequently go to McDonald’s or the 24-hour IHOP to eat before they start their fast at sunrise, as Nabra and her friends were doing.

The killing rattled a Muslim community in the midst of celebrating Ramadan, a month of religious observance in which adherents fast from dawn to sunset for about a month. The period culminates in the feast-like celebration Eid al-Fitr, which is expected to fall next weekend.

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SOURCE: Faiz Siddiqui, Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey 
The Washington Post