FAIRFAX, Va. — A missing Alexandria, Virginia, teen returned home Tuesday night after she was considered endangered, hours after police Fairfax County feared she might be in danger, because of a connection to the case of another teen girl found dead at a construction site over the weekend.
By Wednesday morning, Fairfax County Police tweeted Venus Lorena Romero Iraheta was in custody.
Venus Ireheta is in custody. Due to her age, we are prohibited by law about revealing whether she’s facing any criminal charges.
— Fairfax Co. Police (@fairfaxpolice) February 15, 2017
Venus Lorena Romero Iraheta, 17, had entered her house around 9 p.m. while her mother was being interviewed by NBC Washington.
Fairfax County police were contacted and officers arrived at the house to confirm. Detectives are interviewing Iraheta about her nearly month-long absence.
Iraheta said she left home after hearing her ex-boyfriend was murdered.
“They found him in the river,” the teen told NBC Washington.
However, sources say Iraheta had run away prior to the recovery of her boyfriend’s body.
The body of Christian Alexander Sosa Rivas, 21, of Fairfax, was discovered along the Potomac River, in Dumfries, on Jan 12. Prince William County police said his body had suffered trauma, and classified the death as a homicide.
Iraheta was asked if she feared for her life, after learning of her boyfriend’s murder: “That’s why I left.”
The teen said she had seen on the internet about the search for her, and returned out of concern for her mother. “I’m really sorry, because I know she was very scared about what could happen to me,” Iraheta said. “I love you, Mama.”
The reunited mother and daughter hugged and cried, as a news camera rolled.
Earlier, police said gang activity appears to be a factor in the cases of Iraheta and 15-year-old Damaris “Alexandra” Rivas, whose remains were found at a Springfield, Virginia, industrial park Saturday.
Second Lt. Brian Gaydos, of the Fairfax County police, said at a news conference Tuesday that the cases also are connected to the case of a third missing teen and her young son, who returned home last weekend.
The links between the girls have not been defined, Gaydos said.
New information in Iraheta’s disappearance had detectives concerned she could be in danger. Gaydos could not go into detail about the information that had prompted detectives to heighten Iraheta’s missing status to endangered.
Iraheta voluntarily left her home on Alexandria’s Beauregard Street on Jan. 15, carrying a black and red backpack full of clothes, Gaydos said.
Investigators learned Iraheta’s case overlapped with the Rivas homicide. Rivas — a Gaithersburg, Maryland, resident — went missing Dec. 10, 2016, and her body was found this month.
“Their relationship is under investigation. We can’t say how she knew her,” Gaydos said. Her autopsy revealed that Rivas suffered trauma to her upper body, investigators said.
WTOP’s news partner, NBC Washington, reports Rivas’ body was found just over the hill from the home where once-missing 16-year-old Lizzy Rivera Colindres lived. She returned home with her 5-month-old son over the weekend.
When she was still missing, Montgomery County police said Rivera Colindres’ disappearance was linked to gang activity and that her boyfriend, who is also her son’s father, was linked to an area gang.
Five people are detained in connection with these cases, facing gang-related charges; however, none are facing homicide charges, Gaydos said. Despite the charges, he could not offer names Tuesday.
“There are multiple different cases with multiple suspects that are overlapping. We can’t say for sure yet who is a player in which case,” he said.
WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.