BEAVERDAM, VA (WWBT) - Hanover deputies are heading to Florida to talk to Brian Mallory. He was arrested early Tuesday morning in Jacksonville, accused of stealing Sarajane Hakopian's minivan. He's now at the center of a murder investigation.
Police have not released how Hakopian died, or the circumstances surrounding her death. They do say she and Mallory were boyfriend and girlfriend.
Hakopian's life came to a sudden and tragic end at her home in Beaverdam Monday night.
Teri Woodwarth came by the home Tuesday morning and left the first bouquet of flowers at the edge of the driveway.
"Sarajane was really unique and had just a huge heart." Woodwarth said. "I mean it's just like every time something would happen in my life, it seems like she'd show up. She was just that kind of person and I know she did that for a lot of people."
Mallory is now being interviewed by Hanover Police while he's behind bars in Florida. Mallory has a long criminal history in Hanover according to records obtained by NBC12 from the Virginia Department of Corrections. He has felony convictions dating back to 1991 including robbery, use of a firearm and kidnapping.
Sarajane's friends say she was a gifted artist and volunteered much of her time nearby at the Montpelier Community Center for Arts and Education. Ann Comfort says Sarajane would show up at the drop of a hat, ready to help.
"Sarajane is such a sweetheart, generally loves people and is very trusting," Comfort said. "I just cannot believe anything could happen to Sarajane. It's very hard for me to accept that."
News of Sarajane's murder has been difficult for many people to grasp.
"It was like, it couldn't be true," Woodwarth said. "It just couldn't be true because Sarajane never hurt anybody. Sarajane was always helping everybody."
Mallory is charged with grand larceny after police say he took Hakopian's minivan Monday night. He's being held without bond at a jail in Jacksonville.
Hakopian leaves behind two teenage children. Her parents say they have no family in the Richmond area and they may need to bring the children back with them to Maryland.