Helen Lorena Hargan, 23, shot her mother, Pamela Denise Hansen Hargan, 63, in her home at 6708 Dean Drive in McLean and then shot herself in a murder-suicide on Friday, July 14, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Officers went to the home shortly after 2 p.m., after a caller reported that someone in the home might have been killed.
“I don’t know the identity of the caller,” said Don Gotthardt, a spokesperson for the department. “My information is that they had some familiarity with one of the occupants in the house. Whatever information the caller had led them to be concerned for occupants in the house. The call was basically, you know, ‘Check on the welfare, that there might be somebody dead in the house.’”
Several unsuccessful attempts were made to communicate with anyone in the home and a reverse 911 call was placed to neighbors, asking them to remain inside their homes, according to police.
“They made numerous attempts to make contact with the folks in the house, even by bullhorn,” Gotthardt said.
When all the communication attempts were unsuccessful, police officers entered the house and found the two bodies. By 8 p.m., the department published a blog post about the murder investigation and that there was no threat to public safety.
A MEDIA BRIEFING was conducted about an hour after the blog post was published.
“We weren’t here, we left the house around 1 o’clock,” said Jennifer Jeannot, who lives in a house next door to the crime scene with her family. Her family had gone to a movie theater for a matinee screening of the new “Despicable Me 3” movie, she said.
Jeannot was preparing to throw a birthday party at the home the next day and she and her husband were working on last-minute chores as detectives worked on the scene next door.
She and her husband have been living in their home for 10 years and Pamela Denise Hansen Hargan didn’t move next door until her home was built about three years ago, according to Jeannot. The victim lived in the home with another one of her daughters and her granddaughter, according to Jeannot.
Like the Jeannots, other neighbors who had gathered outside the crime scene after the media briefing didn’t hear any commotion at the house and had no idea what happened or which people who lived in the home had been killed.
“This street has a lot of kids, so sometimes [the granddaughter] would mix in with the others, but most of the time, we wouldn’t see her,” said Rusty Payne, who lives across the street from the crime scene.
The granddaughter, who is 7-years-old, attended school a block away at Kent Gardens Elementary on Melbourne Drive, according to Jeannot.
The child was not home at the time of the incident and is safe with her mother, according to the police.
“We didn’t speak very regularly, just kind of over the fence about our dogs and their dogs,” Jeannot said of the family next door.
All of the five dogs that lived in the home have also been accounted for, according to police.
“They’ll comb that house meticulously for any shred of potential evidence, collect that, continue with canvasses and probably … continue with canvassing and gathering information tomorrow, but they’ll be here throughout the night,” Gotthardt said.
THE NEXT MORNING, the police released the identities of the decedents and the circumstances involving their death.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia conducted autopsies on Saturday, July 15, to make an official determination of the cause and manner of death, according to police.
This is the second murder-suicide to happen in McLean this year, after police determined Hong Chen, 52, fatally shot his wife Shirley Shou, 48, and son James Wenjie Chen, 16, before killing himself in their McLean home at 1339 Windy Hill Road in January.