Mysterious Fairfax Murder of Vanessa Pham Remains Unsolved - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Mysterious Fairfax Murder of Vanessa Pham Remains Unsolved


It's a murder case that's stumped investigators. Six months later they are no closer to finding Vanessa Pham's killer. The 19-year old was found stabbed to death in Fairfax, after her car crashed.

Monday friends and family came together in a special place that will forever honor Vanessa's memory.

"Some of us find it hard to go to the actual... gravesite," said Vanessa's friend, Min Kim. So instead, they now have a bench dedicated to Vanessa at the Vienna Town Green.

Before her murder, Vanessa spent many days and nights at the Town Green with friends. Connor Schmitz, a close friend and her senior prom date remembers it well.

"We used to do picnics here and sit out and watch the starts at night. It's one of her favorite places," he said. The week before her death, Vanessa stayed at Schmitz's house. "It honestly felt like she was part of my family,' Schmitz recalls.

The bench is a celebration of her life, 19 short years in which she "filled our lives with joy and laughter" the plaque reads. "Not only are we remembering her but the whole community is," said Kim. Sitting on the bench, Kim says she can feel "the overall spirit of her."

It was June 27th, 2010, six months ago, the day Vanessa's murder changed their lives. Her aunt says Vanessa was their life.

"My whole family, no life now," said Michelle Pham. She says Vanessa's mother couldn't be there for the dedication, because she is in Vietnam taking care of her gravely ill father. Vanessa was her only daughter.

Surveillance tape shows Vanessa's car entering the Fairfax Plaza Shopping Center in her 2008 Toyota Scion around 3:00 p.m. that Sunday and leaving about 30 minutes later after visiting a nail salon. Right after that, Vanessa was found stabbed to death behind the wheel of her car on Arlington Boulevard, crashed in a ditch.

Police say the case has not gone cold, but "information is hard to come by" even though it happened in the middle of the day, in a populated area, along a busy road.

"That's one of the parts of the puzzle the detectives are trying to figure out," said Officer Don Gotthardt, a spokesperson with Fairfax County Police. "We really have no eyewitness information that's come forward."

A few leads continue to trickle in and investigators remain positive they will find the killer. They have re-released the surveillance video from the shopping center in hopes of developing new leads. Police are looking for anyone who saw anything suspicious, perhaps Vanessa talking to someone at the shopping center or a driver who saw the car go off the road. Detectives are leaving no stone unturned.

"They've gone back and actually interviewed people they interviewed months ago to see if they have thought of anything again," said Gotthardt.

As the days and months pass, friends and family still find what happened painful. It's the not knowing who killed her and why. "It would have been so much easier if it had just been an open and close kind of thing. But the fact that it's dragging on so much, it just brings so much pain and hurt every month when it hits the 27th," said her friend Schmitz.

Now they can come back to this bench to remember her, a place that will always be here even though Vanessa won't.

"I don't know. She was a sweet girl... I love her," Vanessa's aunt said sobbing. She thought of her as a daughter.

Vanessa had been looking for work as a nanny and placed an ad on Craig's list. The day she died, she posted on Facebook that she'd found a job but friends didn't know who she was going to work for.

Investigators now say they tracked down that lead and ruled out any connection to her murder. Still each day her friends and family keep hoping one day police will find answers.

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