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Forensic link leads to arrest in Vanessa Pham murder

Friday - 12/14/2012, 11:40am  ET

vanessapham.jpg
Vanessa Pham was found stabbed to death in her car in June of 2010. (Courtesy WJLA)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A newly received forensic link led to an arrest in the 2010 murder of a 19-year-old Falls Church, Va., woman who was found fatally stabbed inside her car.

Julio Miguel Blanco-Garcia of Falls Church was arrested in connection with Vanessa Pham's murder.

Police arrested him Thursday at a home construction site in Vienna, Va., where he was working. He made a brief appearance Friday in Fairfax County District Court via closed circuit video and will be held without bond.

In court, officials said Blanco-Garcia has a detainer filed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Pham was found dead in a white Scion hatchback in a ditch, just off U.S. 50 in the Merrifield area of Fairfax County, in June 2010.

Fairfax County police later released surveillance video that showed her car in the nearby Fairfax Shopping Plaza minutes before her body was discovered.

At a news conference, acting Fairfax County Police Chief James Morris says investigators are still trying to determine whether Pham had been abducted when her car was pictured in the video.

"I believe those are topics detectives are discussing now with Mr. Garcia, and that we're trying to reach through the interviews. We're trying to put the scene back together," says Morris.

Police and Pham's friends say the graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna did not know the man charged with her murder.

Morris would not specify the forensic link that led police to Blanco-Garcia. A source tells The Washington Post it was a DNA link.

Online court records show Blanco-Garcia was arrested in April and charged with altering a price tag in a store. It's not clear whether that incident provided the forensic evidence that led police to Blanco-Garcia.

In the hearing Friday, lawyers and the judge mentioned the incident may constitute a capital murder case, although that could change as evidence is gathered.

Blanco-Garcia told the judge he wanted to speak with his family before deciding on an attorney. The judge gave Blanco-Garcia one week to make that decision.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)