Fairfax County police are investigating whether there is a link between an October encounter a woman had with a stranger in a Fairfax shopping center parking lot and the 2010 slaying of a woman who was in that same shopping center shortly before she was killed.

In the Oct. 27 incident, a woman left the Unique Thrift store in the Fairfax Plaza Shopping Center on Gallows Road about 8:30 p.m. As she unlocked the door of her car, a man hopped into the passenger’s seat, police said. The 33-year-old woman, who was not hurt, screamed and ran off.

The woman realized she had left her purse behind and returned to the car, police said. The man, who was by then standing near the driver’s side of the car, walked away.

(Composite sketch)

Police said they are examining whether the incident could be linked to the June 27, 2010 slaying of 19-year-old Vanessa Pham, who had visited a nail salon at the shopping center shortly before her death.

“We’ve eliminated no possibilities,” said Officer Bud Walker, a Fairfax County police spokesman. “It’s the same place.”

Police previously released video showing Pham’s Scion tC hatchback entering the parking lot about 3 p.m. on June 27, 2010 and leaving at 3:24 p.m. About 10 minutes later she was found fatally stabbed inside the car, which was in a ravine near Arlington Boulevard and Gallows Road.

Anyone with information about the October incident is asked to call Fairfax Police at 703-691-2131 or Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS or email www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org.