A man was charged with murdering a 19-year-old Falls Church woman Thursday, nearly 21 / 2 years after Vanessa Pham was found fatally stabbed inside a car in Fairfax County, police said.
Julio Miguel Blanco-Garcia, 27, of Falls Church was arrested at a Vienna construction site, where he was working, after an analysis of forensic evidence tied him to the slaying of the college freshman and Northern Virginia native, Fairfax County police said.
The arrest apparently brought a stubborn mystery to a close.
Pham was found dead in a white Scion hatchback in a ditch off Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church about 3:30 p.m. June 27, 2010. Surveillance video from the nearby Fairfax Shopping Plaza showed the car leaving a parking lot without apparent signs of distress.
Fairfax police said they were still investigating when and why Blanco-Garcia killed Pham, but the acting police chief, James A. Morris, said at a news conference Thursday evening that it did not appear they knew each other.
“We’re trying to put the scene back together,” Morris said.
Authorities publicly declined to elaborate on the nature of the forensic evidence, but a source close to the investigation said a DNA match led authorities to Blanco-Garcia.
Morris said the break in the case came this week when the analysis of the forensic evidence was returned. Blanco-Garcia had not been a suspect in the killing before then, Morris said.
U.S. deputy marshals arrested Blanco-Garcia about noon Thursday at a construction site near Glyndon Street SE and Locust Street SE in Vienna, police said. He was taken into custody without incident.
Police declined to discuss his background, and a man who answered the door at an apartment listed as his address said that Blanco-Garcia did not live there and that he did not know him.
Pham had dreams of becoming a fashion designer, and she had just completed her freshman year at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. She had been home for about a month on summer break.
She was a graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna, where she won an award for “outstanding achievement in the arts.” Her friends said she had no enemies and did not get into trouble.
On the day of her slaying, Pham had gone to visit friends about 2:30 p.m., but they weren’t home. Police said it is unclear what happened over the next hour.
Someone driving on Route 50 near Gallows Road spotted her car in the ditch. The Scion appeared to have been going the wrong way on a one-way service road before it jumped a curb and came to rest in a shallow ravine.
Police and firefighters quickly realized that more than a traffic accident had occurred. Pham had been stabbed multiple times.
Pham lived with her mother, grandmother and other relatives.
They could not be reached Thursday to comment.
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.