A Muslim teen who was attacked and killed early Sunday as she and a group of teenagers walked back to a mosque in Virginia may have been sexually assaulted, investigators say.
Police are investigating the possibility that Nabra Hassanen, 17, was sexually assaulted, Fairfax County police spokeswoman Tawny Wright said Tuesday.
At a news conference Monday evening, when asked if Hassanen had been sexually assaulted, Fairfax County Police Lt. Bryan Holland responded that “there was an assault that occurred in Fairfax County and we had another assault that occurred in Loudoun [County].”
Police said Darwin Martinez Torres saw the group walking and riding bicycles in the street and on the sidewalk. Torres became so enraged after arguing with one teen he drove up on a curb, police said. He later found the group in a nearby parking lot, chased them on foot with a baseball bat and allegedly beat Hassanen in what local police are calling a “road rage incident.”
Torres, 22, put the injured teen in his car, officials said. Her body was found Sunday evening in Loudoun County.
Torres entered the United States illegally, according to an immigration official. ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell said Torres will be “afforded all legal processes.” Typically that means he will go through criminal court proceedings and serve any corresponding sentences if convicted. Then, based on the detainer, he would be transferred to ICE custody and take his case through immigration court, according to Cutrell.
Authorities in Fairfax County said there’s no evidence the killing was a hate crime. Hassanen’s father said he believes she was killed because she was wearing an abaya, a traditional black cloak. The Virginia Commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, Raymond Morrogh, declined to discuss the evidence of the case, and would not say whether he believed a hate crime occurred.
“These cases evolve, the investigation is ongoing — who knows what will come up — so I would be loath to characterize it one way or the other,” he said. “Everything is on the table until we get all the evidence.”
Torres has been charged with murder and faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.
Morrogh declined to comment on the possibility that Hassanen was sexually assaulted, but added that “in any case, it’s not unusual to add charges.”
Torres appeared by videoconference from jail for an arraignment Monday in a Fairfax County juvenile court, Morrogh said. In court, Torres was appointed a federal defender, though the 22-year-old told the judge that “his aunt may hire him a lawyer; he was hoping she would,” Morrogh said.
A preliminary hearing in the case is set for July 19 in Fairfax County.
James Ware with the Fairfax County Office of the Public Defender declined to provide the name of Torres’ court-appointed attorney and added he had “no comment” on the Torres case.
Hassanen’s funeral prayer service will be held at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling on Wednesday, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.