Missing Va. Woman Found Slain In Her Car

By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008

A 22-year-old Fairfax County woman who had been missing was found dead early yesterday inside her car, less than a mile from the Herndon area apartment complex where she lived, police said. Her family said she had been stabbed.

The woman, Erika Yancey, was declared missing after police were called to her apartment building in the 2300 block of Dulles Station Boulevard on Monday morning. The property manager at the complex had discovered what appeared to be a trail of blood leading from the parking lot to a trash bin.

Yancey was last seen dropping off a friend in the area of Dulles International Airport on Sunday morning. Yancey's aunt, Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, said police found Yancey's cellphone Monday in the trash bin at her building and realized that her car was gone.

Yesterday, about 2 a.m., a patrol officer spotted Yancey's gray Hyundai Elantra in the 13700 block of Sunrise Valley Drive, Fairfax police said. Yancey's body was inside, and the medical examiner determined that she died from "trauma to the upper body," said Mary Ann Jennings, a police spokeswoman. The death is being investigated as the county's 15th homicide this year, police said.

Yancey's mother, Lorraine Williams of Wichita, Kan., said Yancey's father was also slain 20 years ago, and his killer was never found. Williams vowed yesterday that her daughter's killer would be brought to justice.

"She was independent, free-hearted. She would give you everything," Williams said. "I'm going to make sure somebody gets caught on this one."

Yancey, a native of Michigan City, Ind., had moved to the Washington region in 2006, Goodall said. She lived with Goodall in Forest Heights for a time but moved to the Herndon area apartment this summer with a friend's family because she wanted to be more independent.

Yancey worked at Dulles for a Delta Air Lines contractor, taxiing and parking airplanes, her family said. Yancey's father, boxing promoter Johnnie B. Williams, was killed in New Orleans in 1988, shot twice in the back of the head at close range, according to Yancey's mother and a local news report.

Goodall remembered Yancey as a kind, "bubbly," independent-minded woman who loved animals and children. She said police told family members that it appeared that Yancey had fought her attacker.

"I knew she would," Goodall said. "She would not have gone down without a fight. . . . Whoever did this to her is going to be caught. Karma doesn't allow that. You don't hurt gentle people. . . . Bad things come back to you."

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company