FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WUSA) - Justice for the family of a murdered Falls Church college student two and a half years after she was stabbed to death. Vanessa Pham was just 19 years old, and tonight police say her killer is finally behind bars.
Debra Alfarone reported from where the aspiring fashion designer was last seen alive.
It was June 2010 when the beautiful and talented 19-year-old was last spotted in the Fairfax County Shopping Plaza around 3 p.m. And for two-and-a-half years, there's been much speculation about the 40 seconds when Vanessa Pham's car lingered at this exit before she was found stabbed to death a half mile away.
Police say they had nothing until this week, when they got a lucky break.
Beautiful. Talented. An only child. Aspiring fashion designer. A freshman in college. And taken senselessly, and suddenly. That is Vanessa Pham.
For family and friends, it's been a nightmare. Two and a half years later, police say they found Vanessa Pham's killer.
James A Morris, acting Fairfax County Police chief, said at a Thursday evening press conference, "Earlier this week though analysis of forensic evidence we were able to identify Julio Garcia as a suspect in the June 27th 2010 homicide of Vanessa Pham."
This break came out of the blue, just this week. Police won't say yet what that make-or-break forensic evidence is. "I can not, that's a specific evidentiary aspect of the case," said Morris, who declined to discuss a possible motive for the killing.
Morris says police picked up Julio Blanco Garcia at a Vienna construction site where he was working. The 27-year-old is now behind bars, charged with Pham's murder.
Surveillance video captured Pham in her white Toyota, driving through the Plaza around 3 p.m.. She apparently lingers in her white Toyota at the exit a touch too long.
Thirty-four minutes later, she's found dead, her car in a ditch. Cops say she was stabbed to death.
So, was Garcia in the car?
"I believe those are the topics detectives are discussing now with Mr. Garcia," Morris said. "We're trying to put the scene back together and that will be part of the case."
For two and a half years, the community has never forgotten; although friends and family now have closure, nothing can bring back this life, stolen for what reason we don't know yet.
"For me, with pleasure I'm able to bring closure to this investigation," Morris said.
Fairfax County police say Garcia was not a suspect back when they started this investigation in 2010. Some type of forensic evidence brought about the end to this murder mystery.