- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007

The bodies of two girls found in a car Friday in Loudoun County have been identified as Montgomery County teenagers missing since Jan. 19, authorities said yesterday.

Rachel Samantha Smith, 16, of Potomac, and Rachel Lacy Crites, 18, of Gaithersburg, were found in the front seat of a dark-blue 1997 Subaru Outback station wagon registered to Miss Crites’ family, said Kraig Troxell, spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

The car was found Friday afternoon in Purcellville, Va., in a rural area along the Shady Lane access road off Route 9 near the West Virginia border, about an hour away from the girls’ homes in Montgomery County.

The vehicle was found by some people who were riding four-wheelers in the area, Mr. Troxell said.

Sheriff’s deputies later found the bodies of two females in the car’s front seat, he said. Investigators confirmed late Friday night that it was the two missing teens.

Mr. Troxell said that no notes or empty bottles of pills or alcohol were found.

There were no obvious signs of trauma, he said.

Loudoun County police detectives are investigating the cause of death. The bodies will be transferred to the state medical examiner in Fairfax County.

“Suspicions are that it’s suicide, but nothing will be known until autopsies are performed on Monday,” Mr. Troxell said.

A report on WTOP-103.5 FM radio, citing an unnamed source, said that investigators think the girls died from exhaust fumes. The report said the car key was turned to the “on” position and that the car had run out of gas.

Mr. Troxell would not comment on the report.

Miss Crites’ father, Troy, warned other parents to watch their children for signs of depression.

“As we mourn the loss of both Rachels, we only ask that you be aware of the true risks of depression in your children, and most importantly, that you hug your child today, for we cannot,” he told WRC-TV (Channel 4).

The television station also reported that Miss Crites had left behind a diary with an entry that read: “Wherever I end up laying, whether buried or cremated, I want to stay with my true love, buried next to her. This is my choice. I’m sorry.”

The teens were last seen on Jan. 19 and were supposed to be going to see a movie in Georgetown. When they did not return, Montgomery County police considered them endangered and began a widespread search.

Montgomery County police yesterday declined to comment on the discovery, referring queries to the Loudoun County authorities.

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