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Roommate Reflects on High School Friend

Cause of couple's death still being pursued. <bt>

The roommate of the 24-year-old woman who died March 16 was hesitant to talk.

Chris Card stood at the doorway of the Sterling townhouse he owns with Dwayne Robbins, saying he did not want to tell the story again about the deaths of Anne Elizabeth Pemberton and her boyfriend Jason Andrew Morris, 25.

"It's just a healing process," said Card, 27, on a warm Sunday afternoon. The neighborhood at the 47600 block of Whirlpool Square was quiet with one or two cars driving through.

Card just as quietly began to speak.

"She was a good person. She was a friend we knew for a long time, and it's hard to see that happen to somebody so young. It's really unfortunate," Card said.

Card and Robbins discovered Pemberton and Morris in Pemberton's bedroom at about 9:30 p.m. that Saturday and called the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff's deputies found the roommate and her boyfriend dead without any visible signs of trauma. The two were originally reported as being unconscious.

"It was something we discovered at night, which is a scary thing, but the police have been good to work with, and we're trying to be as helpful as possible," Card said.

PEMBERTON HAD BEEN a roommate of Card's and Robbins' for the past two years, first in Alexandria and since October 2001 in Sterling. Pemberton attended high school with the two men at Edison High School in Alexandria, then attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg and after graduating in the late 1990s, moved back to Alexandria, Card said. The two men, who are both 27, said they had an extra room, so Pemberton moved in with them to rent the room and commuted to work as an accountant in Tyson's Corner.

Morris had lost his job after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and moved out of his apartment, living with friends, Card said. Morris, who dated Pemberton since college, also stayed at Pemberton's residence.

"We heard about the situation after 9-11. That was OK," Card said, adding that he and Robbins were willing to accommodate Morris considering the situation.

Card said he and Robbins started seeing Morris more in the last couple of months but did not talk with him much. He said Morris recently was hired for an apartment search firm.

"He was a good guy, but we didn't know him that well," Card said, adding that Morris's family is from Philadelphia. Pemberton's family now lives in Fairfax Station, he said.

PEMBERTON AND MORRIS were taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Fairfax County for an autopsy report, which was completed last week. The sheriff's office is waiting for ontoxocology reports, which could take two to four weeks, and will not release any further information at this time, said Capt. Randy Badura, press officer.

"It's tough. She was so young. It makes you think about life and living it as best as you can," Card said.