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Strange Incident at Fairfax Plaza Connected to Pham Murder?

Woman flees from car after unknown man climbs into passenger seat.

Police are investigating a strange incident at Fairfax Plaza Shopping Center that sounds all-too similar to an unsolved murder case from June 2010.

A 33-year-old woman left Unique Thrift at around 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 27. She walked to her car in the shopping center parking lot. As she unlocked the car and got in, an unknown man jumped into the passenger's seat.

The victim screamed and fled, but returned shortly after to retrieve her purse from the driver's seat. When she got back to her car the suspect was standing beside the driver's side. He then walked off towards Unique Thrift, according to Fairfax County Police.

Nothing was taken. Nobody was injured. But that wasn't the case over a year ago.

In June 2010, 19-year-old Vanessa Pham stopped by Fairfax Plaza Shopping Center shortly before she was in her car down the road. Since then police have struggled to put together what happened to Pham between the time she left the shopping center and was discovered off the road at Arlington Boulevard and Williams Drive.

Surveillance footage . But something seems amiss. Pham's 2008 two-door Toyota lingers a bit before exiting the parking lot, causing cars to line up and wait behind her. 

"We are not saying that we have any evidence of a connection," said Lucy Caldwell of the Fairfax County Police public information office. "However, since the incident took place in the same parking lot, it was prudent to let the public know about it. Just in case."

Like the Pham case, police hope surveillance footage in this latest incident will help bring light to what exactly happened. 

Investigators want to hear from those at the shopping center at the time, especially those who appeared to have stopped to help the 33-year-old victim when she screamed.

Police describe the suspect as a male, 20-30 years of age, possibly Hispanic, 5-feet 10-inches tall and about 160 pounds. Check the composite sketch and surveillance footage attached to this article.            

Contact Crime Solvers with any information. You can reach them by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477, e-mail at www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org, text “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES/274637 or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131. Tips can be made anonymously.

There's a $1,000 cash reward offered by Crime Solvers and a private cash reward of $20,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the Pham case. The private reward offer expires on June 27, 2012.

Laura Goyer November 16, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Has anyone shown this composite sketch to the girls at Oakton high school who were stopped by the man "asking for directions" in the failed Blake lane abduction? I would want reassurance it is not the same person!
John Strother November 17, 2011 at 03:54 PM
That would be far fetched, since there is many miles between these places.
Laura B. November 18, 2011 at 04:14 PM
No, because it was the same shopping center parking lot.
Whitney Rhodes November 18, 2011 at 04:21 PM
I think John was responding to Laura's comment.

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