Helen Hargan was hysterical and sobbing when she called her boyfriend with chilling news in July 2017, according to a search warrant. She said her sister, Megan Hargan, had come into a bedroom in their McLean home and shot their mother.
Before the called ended, she told her boyfriend that her sister was “downstairs transferring money,” according to a search warrant. When the boyfriend called back, he got no answer, he told authorities.
It would be the last time he spoke to her.
Soon after, Fairfax County police officers, summoned by the boyfriend to the Dean Drive home, would find Helen Hargan, 23, dead in an upstairs bedroom and her mother, Pamela Hargan, 63, slain in a laundry room. Both suffered gunshot wounds. A gun was found near Helen’s body and shell casings were found near Pamela’s.
Fresh information about the case was revealed in a recently unsealed search warrant seeking data from Megan Hargan’s phone. For the first time, authorities offered a detailed account of the moments leading up to the double slaying and a possible motive in the case.
Despite Helen Hargan’s call to her boyfriend, Fairfax police announced in the days that followed the double killing that it appeared the case was a murder-suicide. They said Helen Hargan probably took her mother’s life before turning the gun on herself.
It would take a 16-month investigation and the work of a special multi-jurisdictional grand jury before authorities finally pointed to Megan Hargan, 35, as the alleged killer. The grand jury indicted her on two counts of first-
degree murder in November. Detectives said it appeared she had staged the home to make the crime look like a murder-suicide.
The unsealed search warrant reveals a possible motive for the crime: Megan Hargan’s mother discovered that someone had attempted to wire “large amounts” of money from her bank account on the day before her slaying. Pamela Hargan notified her bank that the transfer was fraudulent.
On the day of the killings, a second transfer was initiated to send money to a title company that was handling the purchase of a home by Megan Hargan in West Virginia. Detectives wrote in the search warrant that she initially lied about attempting the transfers before admitting in an interview that she was behind them.
Tammy North said her sister Pamelahad recently bought Helen a home.
Detectives also wrote in the search warrant that Megan Hargan was given a polygraph about a week after the killings in which she was asked whether she was involved. The test indicated that she was being deceptive when she denied involvement, the warrant said.
Hargan was arrested in Morgantown, W.Va., shortly after the indictments were issued in November and extradited to Fairfax County, where she is being held without bail.
The Fairfax County public defenders who are representing Hargan declined to comment. County prosecutors declined to comment because the case is pending.
North said the killings were a blow to the family, especially because a cloud hung over her younger niece for over a year after authorities initially named her as the perpetrator.
“Helen was very intelligent, hard working, beautiful inside and out,” North wrote in a Facebook message to The Washington Post. “She was truly innocent in this and didn’t deserve to be labeled as a murderer.”
North said Helen Hargan graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2015 with a double major that was engineering-related. North said her niece loved riding horses and traveling, and had spent six weeks with a host family in the Australian Outback when she was 16. North said she had a promising life ahead of her.
Pamela Hargan spent two decades working for Lockheed Martin, the aerospace contractor, before moving to SAIC, another large government contractor.
Maj. Ed O’Carroll of the Fairfax County police said in an interview last month that authorities were premature to label the case a murder-suicide but did not publicly correct the record because it allowed them to investigate the killings without raising Megan Hagan’s suspicions that she was a target of the probe.
Megan Hargan is scheduled to stand trial in September. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.