Community Mourns Teen's Death

Community Mourns Teen's Death

Aug. 21-27, 2002

Fourteen-year-old Erica H. Smith would have been a ninth-grader at Stone Bridge High School on Monday.

The girl known for her singing voice was reported missing on July 29 and last seen walking with friends in the Cascades Commons area a day later.

"That confirmed our thoughts and the family's thoughts she had just run away," said Sheriff Stephen Simpson. "It's a shame someone so young is not going to be able to live their life out as they should. ... It's a sad commentary on the person who would do this."

Smith, who lived in Ashburn, reportedly was killed in a homicide incident that is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office. Two office workers on a walk during their lunch break Aug. 9 found a shallow grave that contained human remains. Four days later, the Northern Virginia Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains as those of Smith.

"Teachers and students alike, everybody is very upset about the tragedy," said Ellen Fein, principal at Sterling Middle School.

Fein described Smith as a quiet and soft-spoken girl who made friends easily. "She had a lovely singing voice. ... She was involved in the music program. I understand from her mom, she was a member of several church choirs."

SMITH'S FAMILY moved to Ashburn during the latter part of the school year. Smith would have attended Park View High School if she had remained in the Sterling area. She also attended Sully Elementary School in Sterling.

"The Sully family is certainly saddened for the Smith family. We have called and expressed our concern for them," said Eric Stewart, principal at the school.

The Sheriff's Office does not have any suspects at this time and is not releasing information about the cause of Smith's death while the case remains under investigation.

"There are certain intimate details only law enforcement and the killer know," said Kraig Troxell, public information officer with the Sheriff's Office. "We can weed out any bad information by not releasing those details."

"We've been getting a lot of good information, but it requires a lot of legwork," said Simpson. "There's a lot of rumors boiling around, so we're trying to sort fact from fiction."

The Sheriff's Office handled four homicide cases during fiscal year 2002, five in fiscal year 2001 and one so far in fiscal year 2003.