Hundreds Say Goodbye to Slain Va. Student Grace Mann as Suspect Appears in Court

Hundreds of people packed a Falls Church, Virginia, temple Tuesday morning to say goodbye to a Virginia student who was murdered in her home last week.

Police say Steven Vander Briel strangled Grace Rebecca Mann to death on Friday in the home they shared with two other roommates near the University of Mary Washington. Both were students at the school. 

According to investigators, Mann's two female roommates found her unconscious in the home. She later died at Mary Washington Hospital.

"Holly and I were lucky enough to spend the first minutes following Grace's passing by her side," one of the roommates said during her funeral Tuesday. "We like to think our presence brought her comfort as she left this Earth to be with God."

Before Mann's funeral, her parents released a statement through a family friend.

"Our hearts are simply broken," the statement read. "Our beautiful, sparkling, compassionate wonderful, funny, brilliant Grace is not with us."

While friends and family spent Tuesday morning sharing warm memories of the 20-year-old, her alleged killer appeared in General District Court in Fredericksburg. Briel is charged with first-degree murder and abduction in Mann's death.

Fredericksburg City Police tell The Free Lance-Star they still are attempting to determine a motive for Mann's slaying.

A preliminary trial has been scheduled for May 19. Briel is being held on no bond.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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