The Fairfax County Police Department(STERLING, Va.) — Virginia police are not investigating the death of a 17-year-old — whose body was found near a mosque — as a hate crime, they announced Monday morning.
Based on the information our detectives have at this point, there is no indication that this was a hate-bias motivated-related crime,” police said. “If that changes as the investigation progresses, we would certainly pursue that aspect.”
The remains found in a Virginia pond Sunday are believed to be those of a 17-year-old girl who went missing earlier in the day after she and her friends left a mosque, according to police.
Fairfax County police charged Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Virginia, with murder in connection with the case. Torres was expected to appear in court this morning, police said.
The teenage girl, whose identity has not been released, was walking outside with a group of friends when she got into a dispute with a man in a car at around 4 a.m. Sunday, according to police. The man got out of the car and allegedly assaulted the girl.
She eventually became separated from her friends, who ran away from the scene and called the police after they realized she was missing, according to authorities.
Police arrested Torres after a search and later obtained a murder warrant charging him with her death. It was not immediately clear whether he had obtained an attorney.
UPDATE: Suspect in Herndon missing teen investigation taken to jail. Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, has been charged with murder. pic.twitter.com/JGBxXmdqUf
— Fairfax Co. Police (@fairfaxpolice) June 18, 2017
“The Office of The Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the identity of the remains and determine the exact cause and manner of death; however, detectives do believe the remains are those of our missing teen,” the Fairfax County Police Department said in a statement Sunday.
The remains were found in a pond at around 3 p.m. Sunday in Sterling, located about two hours north of Richmond.
Police said they looked into whether the killing was a hate crime but said they found no indication “that this was a bias incident.”
The teens had been participating in an overnight activity at a religious center, according to police, but they did not identify the center by name.
The All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling said officials there called the police after the girl’s friends ran in for help. It was unclear whether the teens were affiliated with that particular religious center.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” the center said in a statement. “It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth.”
The center said it would have licensed counselors on site today to help the community cope with the loss.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring urged the public to show “love and support” for All Dulles Area Muslim Society and the Muslim community.
The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate.
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) June 19, 2017
“The unspeakable murder in Sterling feels like an assault on our entire community. Love and respect must overcome hate,” Herring said in a tweet Sunday. “This breaks my heart. @ADAMSCenter_ has always welcomed me like family. Let’s surround community w/ love & support.”
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