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Nepali American Virginia Tech Student Killed, 3 Arrested

Virginia Tech student Samantha Shrestha
  • BLACKSBURG, Va., United States

    A third arrest has been made in connection with the death of a Nepali American Virginia Tech student, Samantha Shrestha, according to a CBS report Feb. 13.

    Michael Heller, 23, of Blacksburg, has been charged with accessory after the fact in a felony. He was released on an unsecured bond, according to the report.

    Two others were arrested Feb. 10 and charged in the case. Jessica Ewing, 22, a student of Virginia Tech, was charged with second-degree murder and Keifer Brown, 23, a 2013 graduate of Virginia Tech, was charged with accessory after the fact.

    Blacksburg police say Shrestha, a college senior, was killed sometime after 7 a.m. on Feb. 8, the day she was reported missing. Further details about the killing as well as a possible motive have not been released.

    Shreshta, who was a biology major with minors in medicine and society and in psychology, grew up in Vienna and attended James Madison High School. According to friends, she planned to go to medical school.

    A family friend said a detective indicated to the victim’s parents Feb. 11 that authorities were still trying to piece together details of what happened. “We have no idea what is the motive,” said the friend, Ram C. Kharel.

    According to Kharel, the parents had heard from Shrestha last Friday but not Saturday. Prompted by their inability to reach her, they went to Blacksburg. Police said they began a homicide investigation Feb. 9 and were looking for a car that they said may have been involved. They said the car was found Monday.

    “Something was wrong; that was my immediate reaction,” her mother, Rajshree Shrestha, told ABC News. “Me and my husband said, ‘This is not right’.”

    The complaint sparked a widespread search for the missing student.

    University Herald reported that the victim was shot dead; however, the school newspaper, the Collegiate Times, reported that she was strangled.

    “That an inspiring young woman would lose her life to violent crime hurts beyond belief,” Virginia Tech president Charles Steger said. “We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and will assist in any way possible. No amount of words can counteract their grief.”

    The statement also said: “That an inspiring young woman would lose her life to violent crime hurts beyond belief.”

    Friends said the death of the young woman intensified the shock and grief felt by the family after an older daughter died earlier in Nepal.

    Kathmandu University’s Web site said Manisha Shrestha was killed in December 2008 when she was given a ride on a motorcycle on her way to school at the Kathmandu College of Management in Lalitpur.

    It quoted her parents as saying: “It seemed like the world felt apart when she took her last breath.”

    Samanata Shrestha’s academic adviser, Jack Evans, called her a “delightful young lady” who showed a “true love for learning.” She was “like a wet sponge and just gobbled it all up,” he said.

    Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shock slaying, nor do they know how the three knew their victim or if they in fact did.

    Ewing and Brown are both being held without bond. Brown is in the Montgomery County Jail, but Ewing has been transferred to the Western Virginia Regional Jail. Heller was released on $3000 bond.

    According to a report in the DailyMail, Ewing, Brown and Heller have not entered pleas. Attorneys did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

    Shrestha aspired to be a doctor, her parents said, and shortly before her death she had received some exciting news.

    “Her dream had been fulfilled,” her mother told ABC News. “She wanted to become a doctor and she has been accepted to the Penn State College of Medicine.”

    Blacksburg Police Department Lt. Nathan O'Dell wouldn't comment on the ongoing investigation, but insisted he'd do all he could to ensure that those charged are convicted.

    “We lost a very beautiful and intelligent person from our community and the Blacksburg Police will be very thorough and meticulous with our investigation to ensure the three we have charged are convicted in connection with this murder,” he told ABC News.

    The death has shaken the campus community and Shrestha's classmates were organizing a candlelight vigil in her honor, and a memorial fundraiser was being set up to benefit an organization where she volunteered.

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