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Va. teen seen 30 minutes before slaying

Fairfax County police have found witnesses who saw Vanessa Pham at a shopping center in the Falls Church area Sunday afternoon, about 30 minutes before her body was found inside her car near the intersection of Route 50 and Gallows Road, police said Friday.

Police said Pham, 19, did not appear in any distress when she was seen in an undisclosed business at the Fairfax Plaza, in the 2900 block of Gallows Road, at 3 p.m. Sunday. Shortly after 3:30 p.m. that day, a motorist reported seeing her white Scion tC hatchback on its side, in a ravine just off Route 50. When police officers and firefighters arrived, Pham was dead, and numerous sources have said she was stabbed to death.

Vanessa Pham
Vanessa Pham. (Family photo)
Fairfax Plaza is a very busy shopping center just north of Luther Jackson Middle School with a number of businesses, including a large Korean grocery and a Five Guys hamburger restaurant. It once housed a Levitz Furniture warehouse that is now a self-storage facility. It is about a half-mile from where Pham's car was found. Police searched that area, in a small woods near Williams Drive, again on Friday.

Officer Don Gotthardt, a Fairfax police spokesman, declined to say which business Pham was seen in.

Pham lived with her mother and extended family near Annandale Road in the Falls Church area. She was very well-liked and had no known conflicts with anyone, leading police to suspect that a stranger might have randomly selected her and killed her. She had last been seen around 2:30 p.m. in the Vienna area, her mother said.

Police are still seeking witnesses to the case and ask anyone with information to call 866-411-TIPS/8455.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  July 2, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Falls Church , Homicide , Tom Jackman , Unsolved , Updates  
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