University of Mary Washington Student Charged in Roommate’s Death

A University of Mary Washington student is suspected in the death of his roommate in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Friday.


Steven Vander Briel (pictured, right) is charged with first-degree murder and abduction and is being held without bond at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

Grace Rebecca Mann, 20, was found unconscious by two female roommates in a home on Washington Avenue about 3 p.m., Fredericksburg Police said. One performed CPR. Mann was taken to Mary Washington Hospital where she died.

Briel was at the home when the other roommates found Mann. He left on foot before police arrived, according to Fredericksburg police.

He was taken into custody near Riverside First Church of God on Fall Hill Avenue about 5:30 p.m. and is being questioned. Charges are pending.

There was no known personal relationship between Mann and Briel other than being roommates.

Nearby James Monroe High School was locked down during the manhunt for Briel.

Mann was a junior from Falls Church, Virginia, according the university's Office of Student Affairs. She was a history and American studies major with a minor in practical ethics. She also was an executive board member of Feminist United, an active member of PRISM, an appointee to the President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault, and a member of the Student Government Association Senate.

UMW Senior Paige McKinsey sent News4 the following statement:

Grace Mann was a friend, a leader, an activist, and a beloved member of the Mary Washington community. In her short time here, Grace worked tirelessly to make our campus a safer and more inclusive space for all students. As an individual, she worked with administration to create better sexual assault policies on campus. As publicity chair of Feminists United, Grace helped plan events such as Take Back the Night. As an American Studies major, Grace focused her studies on the mass incarceration rates of underprivileged communities with hopes of becoming a lawyer to one day serve those communities. As a friend, Grace brought love and joy into every interaction and every person she came across. Earlier this year members of Feminists United were able to attend the Ms. Magazine Awards. At the awards we were able to meet Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon and trail blazer. Grace introduced herself as "just the publicity chair" and Steinem responded saying, "Don't say you're just anything." The truth of these words resonates today. Grace wasn't just anything. The members of Feminists United along with the rest of the UMW community has lost one of our most beloved members today. Grace dedicated herself to helping others and was ready to continue that work into her career. Grace was and will continue to be a constant source of inspiration and hope as we work to make this world a better place, the place Grace was working for.

Counseling will be provided from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Talley Center. Students may also call campus police at 540-654-1025 to talk to a counselor.

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