Va. Tech student from N. Virginia found slain; two are charged in connection with death

February 11

A 21-year-old Virginia Tech student from Northern Virginia died in a homicide in the Blacksburg area , where the university is located, authorities said.

The student was identified as Samanata Shrestha, who grew up in Vienna and attended James Madison High School. According to friends, she was a senior who planned to go to medical school.

A fellow student was arrested in Shrestha’s death and charged with second-degree murder, authorities said. She was identified as Jessica Michelle Ewing, 22.

No information was immediately available Tuesday about a possible motive, and no cause of death could be learned.

A family friend said a detective indicated to the victim’s parents Tuesday that authorities were still trying to piece together details of what happened. “We have no idea what is the motive,” said the friend, Ram C. Kharel.

Charges were also filed against Keifer Kyle Brown, 23, a recent graduate. Online court records said he was charged with accessory after the fact, in connection with the alleged concealment of a body.

Officials did not disclose the nature of any relationships among the three.

According to Kharel, the parents had heard from Shrestha on Friday but not Saturday. Prompted by their inability to reach her, they went to Blacksburg. Police said they began a homicide investigation Sunday and were looking for a car that they said may have been involved. They said the car was found Monday.

Shrestha was a biology major with minors in medicine and society and in psychology, according to a statement from Virginia Tech President Charles Steger to the university community.

“That an inspiring young woman would lose her life to violent crime hurts beyond belief,” Steger said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and will assist in any way possible. No amount of words can counteract their grief.”

In his statement, Steger said, “We know such crime should not happen in a special place like Blacksburg, yet we also know from our own history and that of similar towns throughout our nation that crime can visit even the most placid communities.”

The statement also said “That an inspiring young woman would lose her life to violent crime hurts beyond belief.”

Friends said the death of the young woman intensified the shock and grief felt by the family after an older daughter died earlier in Nepal.

The web site of Kathmandu University said Manisha Shrestha was killed in December, 2008 when she was given a ride on a motorcycle on her way to school at the Kathmandu College of Management in Lalitpur.

It quoted her parents as saying:”It seemed like the world felt apart when she took her last breath.”

Samanata Shrestha’s academic adviser, Jack Evans, called her a “delightful young lady” who showed a “true love for learning.” She was “like a wet sponge and just gobbled it all up,” he said.

Jennifer Lawrence, assistant director of the school’s writing center, said Shrestha helped other students there and was thoughtful and mature person.

(This story has been updated.)

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