A 17-year-old girl who disappeared from her Fairfax County home nearly a month ago returned home Tuesday night, just as her mother was giving an emotional interview pleading for her return.
But a short time later, the teen was taken into police custody in connection with the murder of a 15-year-old girl.
Venus Romero Iraheta left her home in the Alexandria section of the county on Jan. 15. While News4's Derrick Ward was speaking with the mother about her daughter's disappearance, Iraheta walked in the door.
"I'm really sorry, because I know she was scared about what could happen to me," Iraheta told News4. "And I love you, mama."
It is not known where she was during the time she was missing.
Police arrived at Iraheta's home a short time later and took her into custody.
Police say Iraheta was involved in the murder of Damaris "Alexandra" Reyes Rivas, but they would not comment on the extent of her involvement during a news conference Wednesday.
Because of her age, police will not say whether she is facing any charges.
Police were concerned for Iraheta's safety when she disappeared because they believed she may have been under the control of gang members. Multiple gang investigations are underway in Fairfax County, and nine people are in custody.
Two other teen girls who police say had contact with gang members have recently been found in the county. One teen returned home safe; the other was found dead.
Lizzy Colindres, 16, left home in Springfield with her infant son because she feared the baby's father, who had gang ties, police said. She returned home safe on Saturday after nearly a month.
Damaris A. Reyes Rivas, 15, was reported missing from her home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. There were fears for Reyes Rivas' safety because she had contact with gang members. Police found her body in an industrial park in Springfield on Saturday.
Iraheta knew the teen who was found dead, 2nd Lt. Brian Gaydos said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Iraheta's mother said she moved to the United States from El Salvador to flee violence.