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Man sentenced to life in prison for Seven Corners murder, arson

Police are conducting a homicide investigation at The Villages at Falls Church (photo by Ed O’Carroll)

A man convicted of killing a woman at her Seven Corners condominium and setting her body on fire has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge handed down two consecutive life sentences to Richard Montano, 48, today (Friday) after a jury convicted him last October of murdering Silvia “Kelly” Vaca Abacay on Aug. 10, 2022, the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced.

At the time of the murder, Vaca Abacay and her husband were staying in a condominium in The Villages at Falls Church on Willston Place owned by Montano’s ex-girlfriend, who broke up with him that July, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

“The extreme level of violence and complete disregard for human life demonstrated by Richard Montano is of a level rarely seen in Fairfax County,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said. “The loss to Ms. Vaca Abacay’s family and loved ones is unimaginable. There is nothing that can undo her needless, senseless death, but as of today, the defendant will not be able to harm anyone else in our community.”

In the afternoon of Aug. 10, 2022, Montano “was lying in wait” in the apartment, presumably looking for his former girlfriend, but when he encountered Vaca Abacay instead, he stabbed her multiple times “and set her body on fire in an attempt to conceal the murder,” Descano’s office says.

According to a press release, prosecutors told the jury during last year’s trial that Montano was caught entering the condo by a neighbor’s home surveillance camera:

A neighbor’s Ring camera footage captured Montano entering the apartment without Ms. Via Rojas’ knowledge multiple times in the preceding month, including his last entry just 10 days before the murder occurred. The same neighbor called 911 four times the afternoon of August 10 after hearing screaming and banging from across the hall. The medical examiner determined that Ms. Vaca Abacay died from multiple sharp- and blunt force wounds before her body was set on fire.

Montano was arrested at his home in Arlington on Aug. 10, 2022. He initially also faced a burglary charge, but that was dropped at a preliminary hearing in the fall of 2022.

Descano’s office says the judge considered Montano’s apparent refusal to take responsibility for his actions, the premeditated nature of the murder and attempt to conceal his crime by setting the body on fire when determining the sentencing.

The charges of first-degree murder and arson of an occupied dwelling both carried potential life sentences.

Photo by Ed O’Carroll/Twitter

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