Authorities said the break in the case came after Sayrs phoned Fairfax County police while sitting on a bench at a ballpark in Prince William County on Friday night. He later met with detectives and took them to the location where Lu’s body was found.
The body was in some underbrush on a remote cul-de-sac near the Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton. A blue tarp covered the location on Saturday morning, just off the roadway.
Police said that Sayrs did not say why he came forward and that they do not have a motive for the slaying. Police declined to say how Lu was killed.
“Why did he call us last night? That’s a great question,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a Saturday news conference. “Hopefully we’ll eventually have an answer to that.”
Police said they believe Lu was killed at her Lorton home in the 9200 block of Davis Drive and her body was driven to the location where it was found, which is a little over a mile from her home.
Sayrs’s father wrote in a text message he was not interested in commenting and said his son does not yet have an attorney.
Police said they conducted “dozens and dozens and dozens” of interviews to develop Sayrs as a suspect. They had been working to build a case against him without Lu’s body before he called Friday night.
Authorities also credited the media and the public for help that led to the arrest in the case. Police had searched in Virginia and out of state, drained a retention pond and recovered video evidence in a more than 50-day search for Lu.
Lu was last seen on the evening of June 3, on surveillance video while shopping at an Aldi in Woodbridge, police said. She did not show up for work the next day and was reported missing, police said.
After Lu went missing, police responded to her home on June 4 and found her car parked in the driveway, police said. They found fresh groceries in the back seat but no signs of forced entry on her home, police said.
Officers eventually searched Lu’s home and found signs that blood had been cleaned up in the garage, police said.
On July 15, officers searched a wooded area close to where her body was later discovered. Police said a piece of clothing had led them to the area.
Fairfax County police also announced they had a person of interest in the case, saying they had strong evidence linking the man to Lu’s disappearance. Police later said that person was Sayrs. Sayrs was a tenant in Lu’s home at the time of her killing.
An autopsy was being performed on Lu on Saturday.
“This murder is tragic. This murder is heartbreaking,” Fairfax County Police Maj. Ed O’Carroll said Saturday. “Emily didn’t deserve what had happened to her. She did nothing wrong.”
Jennifer Ball, Lu’s only daughter, described her mother as a “very giving and kind” person. Her mother was originally from Taiwan, but had lived in Fairfax County for more than 30 years. She worked in computer science before retiring.
After retirement, Lu worked at Home Instead Senior Care in Annandale, helping elderly clients through the pandemic, her family said.
“I’m just really appreciative of all the attention this case got,” Ball said. “I think it helped bring it to conclusion.”
Ball, who lives in Arkansas, said her mother had discussed issues she was having with Sayrs in conversations, but had no idea what the motive might be for her slaying.
She hopes the criminal proceedings will bring more answers.
“That’s what we can’t wrap our minds around,” Ball said.
Sayrs is being held without bond at the Fairfax County jail. Online court records indicate he had a series of misdemeanor charges in convictions in Virginia and Maryland for minor offenses, but no felonies before his arrest Friday.