Nabra Hassanen, 17, from Virginia went missing on Sunday morning, and by the end of that same day her body had been discovered by police.
By Monday, the story had gone viral, saying the teenager had been targeted because she was a Muslim. However, police don’t believe that her religion was the motive for her attack – road rage was.
Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, is currently in Fairfax County jail for the attack on Hassanen. It has since been discovered that the El Salvador national entered the United States illegally, so, in addition to him being under arrest for the attack on Hassanen, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be taking a very close look at Torres.
The Daily Beast reported that Torres has been locked up for the violent attack on Hassanen, raising fears that this was a hate crime. However, authorities now suspect that Nabra Hassanen may have been raped before she was murdered on Sunday.
The murder of the 17-year-old Muslim girl sent shockwaves through the country because there has been a recent string of violent attacks on Muslims and racial minorities; however, police confirmed they are not investigating her death as a hate crime.
Nabra Hassanen’s body was found in a pond in Sterling, Virginia, just hours after she was struck with a baseball bat by Darwin Torres. After hitting the girl, he took her away and killed her. It has been revealed that underwear was discovered near Hassanen’s body, and investigators are testing results of vaginal swabs.
At Monday’s press conference, Fairfax County Police Department Lieutenant Colonel Deputy Chief of Police Tom Ryan confirmed that there was “an assault that occurred in Fairfax County” and another assault in Loudoun County.
Currently, Torres, a confirmed illegal immigrant, is in Fairfax County Jail, and Carissa Cutrell, a spokesperson for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, told the Daily Beast that ICE has asked for custody of Torres after his release from jail.
On Sunday, a group of around 15 Muslim teenagers, including Hassanen, were walking and riding bikes to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Mosque in Sterling at around 3:40 A.M. after leaving a nearby fast food restaurant. A boy in the group began arguing with Torres, then one of the teens allegedly threw a drink at Torres’s vehicle.
Torres then drove his vehicle onto the curb, scattering the teens, after which he chased some of the group, including Hassanen, with a metal baseball bat into a nearby parking lot. It is believed Hassanen tripped over her abaya, which is when Torres caught up with her and hit her on her head with the bat, rendering her unconscious. It is alleged that he then dragged her body to his vehicle and drove to a second location where police suspect he raped her.
— IIHRP (@iihrp) June 22, 2017
A police source said Hassanen may have regained consciousness and resisted during the sexual assault before being struck again by Torres. Hassanen’s body was later found in a pond.
Julie Parker, a police spokesperson for Fairfax County made a statement on Monday, but at that point it was not suspected that the young victim had been raped before she was murdered.
“It appears that the suspect became so enraged over this traffic argument that it escalated into deadly violence.”
She added that, due to the “elements of the various crimes and where they occurred,” the case may be potentially prosecuted in Loudoun County.
The Washington Post reported that Nabra Hassanen was the first born of four daughters, a popular and diligent student who had just completed 10th grade. Her family lives in a modest apartment near Washington DC.
Samar Ali, 26, grew up in the Hassanen’s apartment complex, and he described the Hassanen family as a fun-loving one.
“It’s a family where if you’re feeling down and you need to laugh, this is where you go.”
Her grieving mother said to the Washington Post that the murder seems completely senseless.
“Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?”
The Independent reported that, at the time Nabra Hassanen was kidnapped and killed by a passing motorist in her home of Fairfax County, Virginia, the local Muslim community was celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.
The Independent was told by a Fairfax County Police spokesperson that part of their investigation involves determining “whether the victim was sexually assaulted.” That determination is pending the results of a medical examiner’s evaluation, which will be studied in addition to the women’s underwear found near Hassanen’s body, and the vaginal swabs that have been sent off for testing.
When the Chief of Police was asked if Hassanen had been raped, he replied that there had been two assaults that night, one in Fairfax County and one in neighboring Loudoun County, but he declined to elaborate on the nature of the attacks.
Darwin Martinez Torres is currently in jail facing a second-degree murder charge.
Mohmoud Hassanen is Nabra’s father, and he believes that his daughter was targeted for her ethnicity. But police are unsure, and told the Independent they have labeled the killing a road rage incident.
Don't tell me Nabra, the Muslim girl who was kidnapped outside a mosque and killed, was a victim of road ragehttps://t.co/vF1i5pkqaI
— Independent Voices (@IndyVoices) June 22, 2017
Sharon Bulova is Chairperson of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She referred to the incident as a “horrific tragedy,” one that should “never, ever happen in our community.”
“I am confident that justice will be served.”
BuzzFeed News reported that, because of where Nabra’s body was found, the Loudoun County sheriff may be taking over the investigation, which would include rape.
Police reiterated that there is no evidence to suggest that Nabra’s murder was a hate crime, and no indication of racial slurs. Ray Morrogh, a Fairfax County prosecutor, said, “Let’s wait until we get all the information and I’ll make the judgment.”
Carissa Cutrell is a spokesperson for ICE, and noted that the agency has not had any previous contact with Torres, indicating that he had no legal status in the United States and that he entered the country illegally.
Nabra Hassanen’s funeral was held earlier today.
— rinf_community (@rinf_community) June 22, 2017
[Featured Image by Steve Helber/AP Images]