NEW YORK — A 22-year-old man in Virginia has been charged with murder after a teenage girl was found dead in a pond hours after she disappeared outside a mosque, the police said.
The girl, 17, was walking with a group of friends during the predawn hours on Sunday in Herndon, Va., when they got into a dispute with a man in a car, the police said.
The girl and her friends had left the All Dulles Area Muslim Society center in Sterling and were on their way back from a McDonald’s restaurant for an all-night prayer session when the confrontation took place, said a police spokeswoman, Officer Tawny Wright.
The man, Darwin A. Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Va., got out of the car he was driving and assaulted the girl, the police said. Her friends scattered, and the girl disappeared. Her body was found about 11 hours later in a nearby man-made pond, and Torres was charged with murder, the police said in a statement.
The identity of the girl was not released, pending the results of an autopsy.
On Twitter, Representative Don Beyer of Virginia identified her as Nabra Hassanen, writing that “our hearts break” for her family, friends, and fellow congregants. Efforts to reach her relatives Monday were unsuccessful.
The Fairfax County Police Department said on Twitter that it was not investigating her death as a hate crime. Wright said Monday that there had been no indication that the assault was based on the girl’s race or religion.
She said there was some unspecified “exchange of words” between the girl and Torres leading up to the attack.
Regardless of the motive, the killing reverberated throughout the Muslim community and beyond. As word of the girl’s death spread, people expressed their grief on social media.
Detectives in Virginia recovered several pieces of evidence. News accounts reported that she was struck with a baseball bat; Wright said investigators were trying to confirm that.
Torres lingered in the search area in his car, drawing the attention of an officer who stopped him for a vehicle violation and detained him for questioning, Wright said.
It was not immediately clear if Torres had a lawyer. Wright said he was to appear in court Monday.
“We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event,” the All Dulles Area Muslim Society said.
Vigils were being organized in Boston; New York; Reston, Va.; and Washington, to take place Tuesday.