Police: Woman found in burning car may have been a suicide

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 23, 2009; 4:52 PM

Fairfax County investigators think that a woman who was found dead inside a burning sport-utility vehicle Saturday night might have killed herself by igniting and then sitting inside the burning SUV, police and fire officials said Monday.

The woman was identified as Verena T. Stutts, 43, of the 7100 block of Wayne Road in Annandale. She was found in the driver's seat of a Mitsubishi SUV after witnesses spotted the vehicle on fire about 8:10 p.m. in a parking lot of the Willow Oaks Corporate Center office complex, near Gallows Road and Route 50 in the Merrifield area, Fairfax Officer Bud Walker said.

The fire was intentionally set, Fairfax fire spokesman Dan Schmidt said, although he declined to reveal details about the fire's cause. Police did not release the cause of death pending the outcome of toxicology reports, but Walker said, "based on her personal history as well as the state of the scene, the detectives do not believe there was foul play." Walker said there was no evidence that anyone else was present.

Fairfax fire marshals and homicide detectives are investigating the case, both agencies said.

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