Four young men have been accused of killing family members in Fairfax County in recent months, and police say they are concerned about an increase in family violence.
In the most recent case, 19-year-old Philip Nguyen was charged in early September with stabbing his father, 78-year-old Truman Nguyen, to death and burying his body in the backyard of their home in the Falls Church area.
In August, 33-year-old Bradley Lister was arrested and charged with murder several days after police say he shot and killed his mother and sister inside his mother's home in Burke, Virginia.
"Family violence is concerning. The uptick in homicide family violence, you know,
does have us kind of shaking our heads," Fairfax County Police Maj. Ed O'Carroll said.
Last year, there were 15 homicides in Fairfax County. But 18 people have died in homicides so far this year. Five of them were victims of family violence.
"It's a number that, you know, we didn't want to see but we’re here. But we don’t talk numbers, we talk families and lives - lives shattered," O'Carroll said.
O’Carroll said there is no doubt in his mind that the pandemic bears much of blame.
"Maybe the isolation of individuals escalated - something has changed and we see this uptick in family violence," he said.
Rachna Krisnan leads The Women’s Center, which provides counseling for domestic violence victims. She agrees the challenges posed by the pandemic are fueling unrest inside many homes.
"We are seeing a 40% increase in counseling sessions with existing clients.
So, even our existing clients, they are feeling more pressure, more abuse, more stress at home," Krisnan said.
Requests from new are clients also higher than ever. Her strongest advice to those who are struggling or fearful:
"Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Pay attention to situations, words, actions that don’t feel right, and get out,"
O’Carroll urges those feeling family tension to seek help early. And he reminds the community has a role too — get to know your neighbors and speak up if
there is trouble.
"If they hear something that's concerning, law enforcement is here to help," he said.