A North Carolina man faces homicide and fugitive from justice charges after police in western Virginia discovered a woman's body in his car's trunk.
Clifton Forge, Va., police arrested 19-year-old Enrico Luciano Mascaro, of Nags Head, on Friday after he returned to his parked 1996 Mustang. Police Chief Barry Balser said officers found the body when they searched the trunk. The victim's name hasn't been released, but The Times has confirmed with sources, including family members, that she is Danielle Dennis-Towne, 18, of Steger.
A Monday arraignment on the fugitive charge was postponed until Tuesday afternoon in Alleghany County General District Court. Mascaro was expected to be extradited to Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Kitty Hawk police had issued a nationwide alert for Mascaro and Dennis-Towne after finding a crime scene. Police used cellphone towers to track the Mustang to Clifton Forge. Mascaro has been charged with homicide in Kitty Hawk, said David Ward, police chief in that town.
Dennis-Towne, a Bloom Trail High School graduate, had been staying with Mascaro and his family in nearby Nags Head, a popular vacation spot about 10 miles south of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina's Outer Banks, Nags Head Police Chief Kevin Brinkley said.
The two met when Mascaro lived in Illinois, Brinkley said. Mascaro's parents, who are cooperating with investigators, first reported the two missing Friday, having last seen them the night before. Dennis-Towne had been staying in the coastal town for a few weeks before she and Mascaro were reported missing, Brinkley said.
The crime scene that prompted police to issue the nationwide alert included several items found in some Kitty Hawk woods that were traced to the pair, Brinkley said, but he declined to specify what the items were.
Sandra Joyce, Dennis-Towne's grandmother who had been raising the teen, said the family has set up a memorial fund in the girl's name.
Donations can be made to the Danielle A. Dennis-Towne Memorial Fund at First United Bank, 20 W. Steger Road, Steger. Questions can be directed to the bank at (708) 754-6161.
Joyce said her granddaughter had received two scholarships and grants to study civil engineering at Ripon College in Wisconsin, where she was planning to continue in the ROTC program. Dennis-Towne had been a commander in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training program at Bloom Trail High School, from which she graduated in June.
"She was a very beautiful, bright loving girl," Joyce said. "As everybody keeps telling me she was a wonderful friend. You could tell her a problem and she never put you down. She had bright blue eyes. She was always fun and bubbly."
Dennis-Towne's parents are deceased and Joyce raised the girl.
"I hope that she's with her father and mother in heaven, and we miss her terribly," Joyce said.