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Motive unclear after pair charged in Chesterfield teen’s murder

Police: No indication victim knew the suspects
Posted at 7:24 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 19:24:45-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield detectives have not established a definitive motive after a teenager was found shot in a crashed car in 2019.

On Wednesday, Chesterfield Police announced they have arrested two people have been arrested in connection with the murder of 18-year-old Bryson Mitchell last September.

The Chesterfield teen was found with a gunshot wound in a crashed car on Gatesgreen Drive in Chesterfield during the early morning hours of Sept 26, 2019. He was transported to area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police obtained indictments in August for 20-year-old Demetrius D Roots Jr., of the 3900 block of Passage Way Drive, on first-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and shooting into an occupied vehicle, police said in a news release Wednesday evening.

Roots, who was arrested Wednesday, is being held without bond. A judge appointed him an attorney during a Thursday hearing in Chesterfield Circuit Court.

Additionally, police obtained indictments in June for 21-year-old for Samira D Tarabay-Whitfield, of the 4700 block of Watchrun Drive, on accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice.

“There’s been no indication that the victim knew any of the suspects,” Lt. Brad Conner said. “We haven’t been able to come up with a concrete motive. There’s a lot of theories that we’ve thrown out.”

Conner said that there are no eyewitnesses to the crime, but cited good police work for collecting enough evidence to charge the suspects.

“Even when an arrest is made new information comes up or somebody knows something. Often times people are reluctant to talk to law enforcement but they realize an arrest has been made,” he explained.

Tarabay, who was arrested on July 7, has since bonded out jail. Her jury trial is scheduled for March in Chesterfield Circuit Court.

Conner wouldn’t elaborate about the nature of Tarabay’s charges. He said Tarabay and Roots are acquaintances.

"Police continue their investigation into this incident," officials said.

Anyone with information about the crime is urged to call the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or through the P3 app.

Chesterfield family searches for teen’s killer:

Mitchell's mother, Sarah Esmailka, said in a January interview that police were "working very hard on everything that they have.”

Detectives previously said they do not believe anyone else was inside the car when it crashed with Mitchell behind the wheel.

“I want him to be remembered as someone who loved his family, put his family, especially his younger sister and brother first,” Esmailka stated. “He loved to fish, loved to be outside, was an amazing artist, the life of every party.”

His stepfather, John Newton, said Mitchell “was never scared to talk to strangers or meet new people.”

Hundreds attended his funeral last year. His death has even made a lasting impact on the students at Matoaca High School where he last attended, his family said.

“Even knowing that he’s in a better place — knowing that whoever did his to my son is still out there having Christmas with his family and enjoying New Years,” Esmailka said. “We are still getting used to doing life without him physically here.”

“Until I see my son in heaven one day, I won’t have closure,” said Esmailka. “But I do want justice and I do know my son deserves justice... I want someone held accountable for what happened and the impact it’s had on our family and our kids."