Ex-Virginia Tech student indicted on murder charges

Jessica Ewing, 23.

CBS affiliate WDBJ

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. - A former Virginia Tech student has been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly killing a senior at the college in February, reports The Roanoke Times.

Jessica Michelle Ewing, 23, was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on July 22 on first- and second-degree murder charges as well as a charge of transporting, secreting, concealing or altering a dead body, according to the paper.

Ewing was arrested Feb. 10, the same day 21-year-old Samanata Shrestha's body was found wrapped in a sleeping bag in the back seat of the victim's 2004 Mercedes C320, the paper reports.

The medical examiner's office ruled Shrestha's cause of death to be ligature strangulation.

Keifer Kyle Brown, 23, a Tech alumnus, is also charged in the case for allegedly helping Ewing transport the body. Warrants state Brown told a detective he is good friends with Ewing and that she contacted him on Feb. 8, telling him about the murder and asking him to retrieve several items from her Blacksburg, Va., apartment.

According to the Times, Shrestha, a biology student who also worked as an EMT, told her boyfriend that she would be hanging out with Ewing at her own apartment on Feb. 7, as revealed in previous testimony.

Erika Holub, a friend of the suspect, testified at Ewing's preliminary hearing in June that she and Ewing met for breakfast on Feb. 8. Holub said she also led a Bible study group that day in which the suspect took part. She said Ewing had a bite mark on her finger but would not explain how she got it.

Holub testified Ewing told her that she needed to go because police wanted to speak with her, and that she prayed with her multiple times before opening up about the previous night.

Holub said Ewing told her, "I killed someone. They were an EMT. They were a good person."

CBS affiliate WDBJ reports a witness at the July 22 hearing said the victim and the suspect didn't know each other well but may have been "in a romantic relationship and experimenting with their sexuality."

Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Mary Pettitt told the paper the second-degree murder charge - which was what Ewing initially faced back in February - will be dropped against the suspect in favor of "the more serious" first-degree charge. A first-degree murder charge implies premeditation was involved in the crime.

If convicted, Ewing faces life in prison.