Police say killing of Muslim teen in Virginia was a case of road rage, not a hate crime

Investigators looking into the killing of a 17-year-old Virginia girl celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan said Monday that the attack does not appear to have been a hate crime but rather a brutal case of road rage.

Nabra Hassanen was reported missing early Sunday morning by a group of friends who had been with her at an overnight prayer event marking the holiday. Her body was discovered that evening in a pond in Loudoun County a few miles from the mosque where the event was held.

The incident stirred fear that Nabra had been targeted for her race or religion. She was wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf when she disappeared.

But investigators from Fairfax County, who were in charge of the search, told a different story.

Around 3:40 a.m. Sunday, they said, Nabra and about 15 other teenagers were leaving a fast food restaurant in the town of Sterling and returning to the mosque, known as the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

Some of the teenagers were walking on the sidewalk and others riding bikes along Dranesville Road when a driver appeared behind them, said Julie Parker, the Fairfax County communications director, at a news conference Monday.

The driver started arguing with one of the bicycle riders, then drove his car onto the curb near the group, investigators said.

The teenagers scattered, but the driver caught up with several of them in a nearby parking lot and got out of his car with a baseball bat in his hand. He used it to strike Nabra, police said.

Then he put her in his car and drove away. He later left her body in the pond.

During the search Sunday for Nabra, a police officer saw a car driving “suspiciously” and pulled it over. The driver was Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old Sterling resident.

Prosecutors charged him with murder later that day, after police found Nabra’s body. Autopsy results showed that Nabra had suffered from blunt force trauma to the upper…

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