‘I Made a Mess': Accused Killer's Chilling Text to Roommate

The roommates of a slain University of Mary Washington student testified Tuesday that the suspect told them he strangled the victim after a disagreement. 

Steven V. Briel is charged with the April 17 abduction and slaying of 20-year-old Grace Mann. During a hearing Tuesday, a judge found probable cause to send the charges against Briel to the grand jury.

Police say Briel strangled Mann to death in the home they shared with two other people near campus. On Tuesday, one of Mann's female housemates testified that before she got home, she received a text message from Briel asking when she and another roommate would be home. He allegedly wrote, "I was in [victim's roommate]'s room and I made a mess."

When the women arrived at the home, they found the door to that bedroom closed. The two knocked, and a sweaty, fast-talking Briel emerged.

The roommates testified that Briel told them he strangled Mann after a disagreement.

The women then described finding Mann's body under a purple comforter; a plastic grocery bag was over her head, and several were stuffed into her mouth. 

The motive in the case is still unclear. 

One of the roommates testified that in the days leading up to Mann's death, Briel sent an insistent text message asking for a blanket back. 

Mann had been active on campus, particularly with a feminist group that is seeking a federal gender discrimination investigation of the state university.

Mary Washington President Richard V. Hurley has said attorneys who filed the Title IX complaint have implied Mann's killing was linked to social media attacks on some women on campus. He says there is no evidence to support that.

The case will go before the grand jury on July 27. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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