Three Charged in Death of VT Student

Feb 11, 2014

Jessica Ewing & Keifer Brown
Credit Blacksburg Police Department

Jessica Ewing, a student at Virginia Tech, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Samanata Shrestha, of Vienna, VA. 

Ewing is now at the Western Virginia Regional Jail.

Recent Tech graduate Keifer Kyle Brown is facing charges that he was an accessory after the fact. He's being held at the Montgomery County Jail.

Police have also charged 23-year-old Michael Christian Heller, a Blacksburg resident, with being an accessory after the fact.  He's been released on bond.

Student groups are coordinating  a candlelight vigil planned in her honor, Thursday night on the Virginia Tech campus.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger wrote this open letter to the VT community:

Dear members of the Virginia Tech Community,
It is with heavy heart that I confirm that our community has been visited with a tragedy.

A currently enrolled student has been charged with the murder of another currently enrolled student, both of whom reside off-campus. Also, a recent graduate has been charged with accessory after the fact.

At times like this, we are at a loss for words to explain or understand such a heinous act. We know such crime should not happen in a special place like Blacksburg, yet we also know from our own history and that of similar towns throughout our nation that crime can visit even the most placid communities.

Samanata Shrestha
Credit The Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech

Those who knew Samanata Shrestha, a senior majoring in biological sciences from Vienna, Va., confirm her zest for school and love of Virginia Tech. One teacher described her as a “faculty member’s dream” because of her exceptional scholarship, love of learning, and “she always had a smile.” A University Honors student, Samanata had minors in medicine and society and psychology. She was inducted into Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges 2013. That an inspiring young woman would lose her life to violent crime hurts beyond belief.

We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and will assist in any way possible. No amount of words can counteract their grief, but know that the university administrators and everyone within this community feels this pain.

I ask that you care for each other – indeed, be on the lookout for each other in this stressful time. Know that the university has the resources to help you cope with your responses and emotions as we all process the tragic loss of this vibrant young life. I urge you to counsel your colleagues and fellow students and to seek help if at all necessary. Individuals or groups with special needs are encouraged to contact the Cook Counseling Center at 231-6557 and/or utilize the resources noted at the bottom of this email.

Charles W. Steger