Medical Examiner: Alexandria woman was strangled

Asabech Worku was found dead in her Alexandria apartment Friday. She lived near the William Ramsay Recreation Center, off North Beauregard Street. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria woman killed Friday was strangled to death, according to the Virginia Medical Examiner’s office.

Asabech Worku, 43, is the city’s third homicide victim of the year. There were no obvious signs of trauma and no evidence of a break-in.

Worku’s sister found her unresponsive Friday morning in the apartment they shared near William Ramsay Recreation Center and North Beauregard Street. The area has a high amount of foot traffic.

Police identified her as Asabech Abayneh but friends say the last name she used was Worku.

When Worku was late to work Friday morning, her boss and longtime employer Birhan Awol called her cellphone, thinking she might still be at church, where she went daily. Instead, he says, her sister answered. Moments later she found Worku’s body, he says.

Standing outside his cafe, Awol greets customers with a solemn face. He says he can’t believe his friend, who he says was always smiling, was killed in her home.

“She’s like very, very friendly with everyone. She’s just, she’s a wonderful woman,” Awol says.

Worku never married and didn’t have any children, Awol says.

A native of Ethiopia, Worku joined the staff of Awol’s restaurant, Birhan Cafe and Market in Falls Church, Virginia, a few months after it opened six years ago. She typically worked 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, as a cook, he says.

The two spent many hours together and shared the details of their lives. That’s why Awol says he can’t think of anyone who would wish her harm.

“I cannot express what I feel about her. She made me who I am today. She was like a mother to me,” he says.

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