Police have recovered the body of what they believe to be a 17-year-old Virginian girl who went missing on June 18.
Nabra Hassanen was walking with some friends to McDonalds early Sunday morning between Ramadan prayers when 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres got into an argument with a teen in their group who was riding a bike. Martinez Torres then drove his car over the curb, scattering them. Martinez Torres later chased the group down with a baseball bat in a parking lot before abducting Hassanen in his car.
Hassanen’s body was later found in a pond in Sterling. The medical examiner ruled she died from abrasions to the head and neck. Martinez Torres has been charged with murder.
Hassanen is Muslim and was observing Ramadan, a religious fast during which many practicing Muslims abstain from eating between sunrise and sunset. Many Muslims will eat meals in the predawn hours, however, which is why Hassanen and her friends were out getting food.
Due to Hassanen’s religion and the proximity of the attack to a mosque, media originally reported the killing was potentially motivated by her religion or ethnicity. Police say, however, this is unlikely.
“Our investigation at this point does not indicate the victim was targeted because of her race or religion,” said a Fairfax Police statement. “Should new information be revealed to suggest it was, we would pursue it.”
Two boys in the group told the AP they didn’t see anything that would make them think the attack was a hate crime, and that they even originally thought it might be a friend playing a joke. Some, including Hassanen’s father, are still skeptical.
“He killed her because she’s a Muslim — this is what I tell the detective,” Hassanen told the Washington Post. “Why was he running behind the kids wearing Islamic clothes with a baseball stick? Why, when my daughter fell down, why did he hit her? For what? We don’t know this guy. He doesn’t know us.”
Road rage. Indeed.
If you think for a minute that her appearance had nothing to do with this crime, you're lying to yourself. pic.twitter.com/zIo0YiVjjK
— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) June 19, 2017
The murder of #Nabra was a hate crime done by a terrorist
Words shape narrative and we need to use correct adjectives when describing evil
— Hanif J. Williams (@HanifJWilliams) June 19, 2017