The woman was just 19 and had only lived in Chantilly a couple weeks when two masked man grabbed her outside her car as she arrived home. They forced her back into the vehicle, drove to an unknown location nearby and brutally raped and sodomized her.
She reported the crime to the police and DNA evidence was taken from her person. Since she never saw her attackers, though, more than 13 years passed before there was a break in the case.
BUT AT LONG LAST, there's closure for her. Both men were eventually caught and convicted. In December 2006, Donald Harmon Roper was sentenced to 115 years in prison. And last Friday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Troy Darrell Holland received three life terms in prison, plus 10 years.
The victim, whose identity Centre View is not revealing, is now a wife and mother who lives in Maine, and she returned here to testify during each man's trial. But it wasn't easy.
Prior to Holland's sentencing, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John Murphy spoke of the "horrific nature of the crimes this defendant committed" and the compelling, victim-impact statement the woman submitted to the judge, Robert Wooldridge.
"In it, she says how having to go through this again in court — and telling what happened to her — forced her to relive it all over again," said Murphy. "And she fears for her children's emotional health as they grow older and realize what one human being did to their mother."
Her nightmare began Nov. 2, 1991, around 4:15 a.m., outside the Shenandoah Crossing Apartments in Chantilly. She'd worked late and gotten together with friends in Sterling before driving home in her 1986 Nissan Sentra.
With no parking spaces available in front of her building, the woman parked near the clubhouse. But as soon as she exited her car, two men wearing masks and rubber gloves ran toward her. One man was taller than the other, who was shorter and stockier. DNA evidence later proved Holland was the taller man, and Roper, the shorter.
She testified that they both sexually assaulted her. Although she initially screamed and kicked, she stopped resisting when they threatened her with a knife. During Holland's trial, she explained, "I didn't feel I had any choice, if I wanted to live. I just wanted to get out of it alive."
Afterward, her assailants drove her near her apartment building and covered her eyes with a ballcap when they removed their gloves and masks before fleeing. But first, they stole her wallet containing her driver's license, ATM card, Social Security card and about $10. Police later found five pieces of rubber glove in her car.
Christopher Larson also testified against Holland. He now lives in Oklahoma; but in November 1991, he was in the Army and lived in the local area. On Nov. 2, around 5 a.m., he was driving his truck near Shenandoah Crossing, on his way to go squirrel hunting.
Larson described how a distraught and hysterical young woman ran into the street, flagged him down and said she'd just been raped. He said her clothes were disheveled, and he drove her to her apartment, where she called police. She then underwent a sexual-assault exam at Inova Fairfax Hospital. In court, he identified a photo of the victim as that woman.
But it wasn't until Roper, now 40, was convicted of a felony elsewhere that a positive DNA match in February 2005 led to his arrest in Fredericksburg. In April 2005, a Fairfax County grand jury indicted him on one count of rape, two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of abduction with intent to defile and one count of robbery.
Holland, 38, of Charles Town, W. Va., attended high school with Roper and also became a suspect. In December 2005, he was indicted for the same five offenses.
DURING BOTH TRIALS, forensic scientist Karen Ambrozy testified that sperm found in and on the victim had come from Roper, and DNA left on her blouse was from Holland. And after a trial, Dec. 4-5, 2006, the jury found Holland guilty on all counts and recommended he be sentenced to three life terms plus 17 years.
In court Friday, Murphy told Judge Wooldridge that, because she couldn't afford a new car, the victim "had to drive that car for a year afterward — and you realize what they must have meant to her. She's been serving a life sentence because [the incident] changed the way she interacts with others."
"This was a profoundly predatory act that [Holland] didn't have to do," continued the prosecutor. "But he had the power to do it — and that's what this was about — that and greed because there was a robbery. The community has spoken, and I see no reason not to impose their recommended sentence."
Defense attorney Thomas Haddock, however, called his client a caring husband, father, neighbor and sports coach. "Give him some chance to have some life," said Haddock. "The victim has a happy home, family, life and job. Not doubting a single word from her, I don't think her life has been ruined."
Holland then stood and told the judge his mother died when he was 8 and his father died, a year later, so his grandparents raised him. "They kept me in church but, without parents, I had to grow up quickly," he said. "My wife and daughter and I, at one time, were living in a car before moving to West Virginia where we could afford to live. And now I've lost everything — my wife, daughter, house and both my vehicles."
Holland said he'd coached soccer and basketball and had helped people at soup kitchens and on the streets and wanted to do that again. Pleading for his freedom, he said, "I'm really not this monster they claim I am. I can be a perfect probationer."
But Wooldridge had the last say. "I cannot begin to describe the ways in which these crimes affected the victim," he said. "It is a credit to her that she's found the strength to live the life she's led since then. And it's also a credit to her friends' and family's support of her. Mr. Holland, you may have lived a decent life since then, but there are some crimes so heinous that you can't make amends for them."
The judge then imposed the jury's recommendation of life in prison for the rape, abduction and one forcible sodomy, plus 10 years for the other forcible sodomy — all to run consecutively. However, he ran the seven years for robbery concurrently with those sentences, leaving Holland with three life sentences plus 10 years to serve. He also ordered him to register as a sex offender.