Police charge Fredericksburg man with first degree murder, victim ID’d

Posted at 5:29 PM, Apr 17, 2015

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. –  A 30-year-old student at the University of Mary Washington is facing murder charges Friday after a two-hour manhunt and a lockdown at a local high school.

The lockdown was lifted at the high school after police apprehended Steven Vander Briel, who allegedly ran from the scene of a murder in Fredericksburg. According to The Free Lance-Star, the manhunt included polices dogs and roughly 20 Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania police officers.

"Homicide suspect Steven Vander Briel was taken into custody in the 500 block of Riverside Drive at approximately 5:30 p.m. this evening. He is currently being transported to Police Headquarters for questioning," Fredericksburg Police Public Information Officer Natatia L. Bledsoe wrote in an email.

Police had been trying to locate Vander Briel after officers said a woman, 20-year-old Grace Rebecca Mann, was found unconscious at her home by her two roommates at around 3 p.m. Police said that Mann later died later at the hospital.

Although the police are not reporting the cause of death, sources for The Free Lance-Star reported that Mann died from asphyxiation.

James Monroe High School, which is only a few blocks from the murder scene at the 1900 block of Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, was on lockdown during the manhunt.

"James Monroe High School is currently under Code Yellow, the school is on lock down until further notice," the school systems posted on its Facebook page at 4 p.m.

However, as of 5:35 p.m., the school system said that the lockdown had been lifted.

"James Monroe High School is all clear, we are no longer on lock-down."

Police had warned anyone who spotted Vander Briel to call 911 immediately and not attempt to approach him.

Steven Briel

Steven Briel

The Fredericksburg Police Department released the following details in an email after Vander Briel was apprehended:

Both the suspect and the victim were students at the University of Mary Washington.  Briel lived in the Washington Avenue home where the homicide occurred, as a roommate of the victim along with two other females. There was no known personal relationship between the victim and suspect other than as housemates.

Police were called to the home at 3 p.m. when Ms. Mann was found unconscious in her room by her female roommates.  One of the roommates performed CPR and the victim was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, where she died a short time later.  Briel was also at the home when the roommates first discovered Mann in distress, but he fled from the scene prior to police arrival.

He was quickly identified as a suspect due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding Mann' s death.

Several deputies and a bloodhound from the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office assisted in the search for Briel along with deputies from the city Sheriff's Office and a large number of officers from the Fredericksburg Police Department.

Briel has been charged with first degree murder and abduction in the homicide of Grace Rebecca Mann.  He is being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail with no bond.