Washington: In an apparent hate crime, a 17- year-old American Muslim girl was beaten and abducted in Virginia by a man and her body was later found dumped in a pond, authorities said Monday.
Police have arrested a 22-year-old, identified as Darwin Martinez Torres, and charged him with the girl's murder.
The girl, identified as Nabra Hussein of Reston, was walking back with friends after having an early morning Ramadan meal at a local 24-hour restaurant when a motorist in a car started shouting insults at them Sunday.
Hussein's friends ran to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque for safety but soon realized that their friend was missing, according to police and mosque officials.
"All but one of the teens ran to the mosque, where the group reported that the girl had been left behind," according to deputy Aleksandra Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County sheriff's office.
"Immediately thereafter, the ADAMS' personnel notified both Loudon County and Fairfax County authorities who immediately began an extensive search to locate the missing girl," the mosque said in a statement.
Found dead in a pond
After hours of searching, the police found Hussein's remains in a pond near Ridgetop Circle in Sterling, Virginia.
"Our detectives are fairly certain that it is her," Tawny Wright, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Police Department said. "But the chief medical examiner still needs to conduct an autopsy to confirm the identity."
The suspect was seen driving suspiciously in the area as police were searching for the teen. A baseball bat was also recovered from the area.
"We have recovered articles of evidence from the area where we believe she was assaulted," Wright explained. "We will try and release information about the weapon used as we process it."
A possible hate-crime motivation is among the things authorities are investigating, police said.
Hussein's brutal murder adds to a series of Islamophobic incidents that have been on the rise in America, especially after Donald Trump came to power in January.
"We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event. It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth," the mosque said in the statement.
"We thank both Fairfax County Police and Loudoun County Sheriff's departments for their diligent efforts in investigating and apprehending a suspect," it added.
ADAMS is Northern Virginia's largest mosque and, with 11 chapters around the district and northern Virginia, is among the nations most well-known congregations.