UPDATE 2/12 4:24 pm: Blacksburg Police have made an additional arrest in their investigation into the death of Virginia Tech student Samanata Shrestha. Michael Christian Heller, 23 of Blacksburg, has been charged with accessory after the fact in a felony. He was released on an unsecured bond. Jessica Michelle Ewing is charged with murder, Keifer Kyle Brown is also charged with accessory after the fact.
After receiving a tip from law enforcement early Wednesday morning, WDBJ7 spoke with a neighbor of murdered Virginia Tech student Samanata Shrestha.
Blacksburg police say Shrestha, a VT senior, was murdered sometime last weekend, allegedly by Jessica Michelle Ewing, also a student at Virginia Tech.
WDBJ7 reporter Orlando Salinas spoke with her neighbor, who said "What I know is that one of our neighbors in the back, she saw the door [of the black Mercedes] wide open at 5:30 Saturday morning and the passenger backseat was open, when she went to work a t5:30 that day, A.M."
When Salinas arrived at the victim's address, Blacksburg police were in the town home. An older man and a younger woman, identified by neighbors as Shrestha's roommate, left the property and were followed by an unmarked police vehicle.
The neighbor, who said she's lived at the property four years, said Shrestha was a quiet tenant.
"Sam has been a neighbor of mine since over a year now and they've been sweet, sweet neighbors. Nothing out of the ordinary. No partying, nothing. Very nice people and on Friday nights, there was nothing."
During the interview, a UPS truck delivered a package to Shrestha's neighbor, who took the parcel and quickly closed the front door.
When the investigation went public Monday morning, detectives put out an alert, asking the public to help them locate a black Mercedes. Eventually, the public came through and the car was located in Montgomery County.
Salinas asked the victims’ neighbor if anyone had seen the Mercedes that police would later be searching for. The neighbor said at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning, a different neighbor noticed the doors were open on the black Mercedes "the backdoor passenger seats [were] open and the door for the apartment was open."
Ewing has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Keifer Kyle Brown, a Virginia Tech graduate was also arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Police have not released a motive.
Blacksburg Police Lt. Nate O'Dell said in an email update late Tuesday afternoon that the department's investigation began as a welfare check on Virginia Tech student and murder victim Samanata Shrestha.
This means someone called police, worried that something might have happened to Shrestha. From there, O'Dell said it became a missing persons case and quickly thereafter a murder investigation.
Let's talk about the victim, Samanata Shrestha, a senior biology major from Northern Virginia. There are reports that her body was found inside a black Mercedes Monday, somewhere on the outskirts of Blacksburg.
The Collegiate Times, a student-run newspaper at Virginia Tech, is quoting a family member who says the medical examiner told them there were marks around Shrestha's throat, indicating she'd been strangled. I spoke with the medical examiner's office and they told me Tuesday quote "no one from this office has discussed anything with the family."
Now the suspects;
Montgomery County jailers tell me that Jessica Michelle Ewing, a student at Virginia Tech- still officially enrolled- was transferred Tuesday to the Western Virginia Regional Jail in Salem. I'm told the jail prefers to keep female prisoners just long enough to be arraigned and meet with their lawyer. That task has been completed and Ewing has been moved, charged with second degree murder.
Keifer Kyle Brown, a Virginia Tech graduate, remains at the Montgomery County Jail, charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Visitation hours for Samanata Shrestha are Wednesday from noon till 2 at McCoy Funeral home in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech says there will be a candlelight vigil Thursday night at 7 at the War Memorial Chapel.
A Blacksburg murder victim has been officially identified.