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2 arrested after Virginia Tech student’s homicide

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Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:06 am

A Virginia Tech senior was charged Monday with second-degree murder — and a recent graduate is facing charges that he was an accessory — in relation to the death of another student.

Blacksburg police arrested Jessica Michelle Ewing, 22, on one count of murder and Keifer Kyle Brown, 23, on charges that he was an accessory after the fact and that he transported, secreted, concealed or altered a dead body. Both Ewing and Brown live off campus in Blacksburg, in separate residences, according to court records.

An arrest warrant filed in Montgomery County General District Court identified the person killed as Samanata Shrestha.

The arrest warrants allege that the incident occurred on Saturday. Police have not released details about when, where or how the death occurred, but Blacksburg police Lt. Nathan O’Dell said the homicide investigation began on Sunday.

“Detectives are still working this case, trying to definitively establish a timeline and exact location,” O’Dell said.

Ewing was arrested Monday at 3:52 a.m., according to her arrest warrant.

A bail determinations sheet in Ewing’s case file said she is “unwilling to participate” and “would only say ‘I want an attorney.’ ”

Brown, who was arrested about 6 a.m. on Monday, is being “cooperative,” according to his file. Police said on Monday morning that Brown was charged with being an accessory after the fact, a misdemeanor. According to court records, he also faces the charge of transporting, secreting, concealing or altering a dead body with malicious intent, which is a felony.

The accessory charge is related to “receiving, relieving, comforting, or assisting Jessica Ewing after knowing that such person had committed a completed felony,” according to Brown’s case file.

Both Ewing and Brown’s files state that a firearm is not alleged to have been used during the offense.

Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said Ewing is a senior at the university, with a primary major in fisheries science and a secondary major in biological sciences.

Brown graduated in August at the end of a summer session with a degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in religion and culture, Owczarski said.

“There is no immediate threat to the university community,” a Tech news release stated on Monday.

Though Blacksburg police have not elaborated further on the case or given any information about the victim, Shrestha was identified in court records.

Owczarski said Samanata Shrestha is listed as a senior with a major in biological sciences and minors in medicine and society, and psychology.

Shrestha was involved for about four years in Epsilon Sigma Alpha, which is a “leadership and service fraternity that aims to give back to the community and provide its members with leadership and volunteering experiences,” according to the organization’s website.

Jessica Dehn, the president of Epsilon Sigma Alpha at Tech, declined to speak about Shrestha but confirmed her involvement with the fraternity.

“We all have Sam and her families in our thoughts at the moment,” Dehn wrote in an email.

The university is offering counseling to students, according to the Tech news release. Those who wish to take advantage of the services may contact several university offices, including the Cook Counseling Center, the Dean of Students Office or the Office of Residence Life.

Police had been searching Monday morning for a vehicle in connection with the case. The black 2004 Mercedes C320 was found abandoned in Montgomery County about 10 a.m.

O’Dell said the vehicle was found after a call from a citizen. He did not provide any additional information about where the car was located or why authorities were interested in finding it.

According to online records, Ewing previously faced two misdemeanor charges in Montgomery County stemming from an incident in February 2012.

She was charged with storing wildlife that is unlawful to sell and trespassing after being forbidden, according to the records. She pleaded not guilty to both charges in Montgomery County General District Court and received a deferred disposition. The charges were later dismissed.

Ewing and Brown are scheduled to have preliminary hearings on April 17, according to online records. Both were being held Monday without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

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