Police have made an arrest in the killing of teacher Sabina Nessa. The 45-year-old was found dead by her daughter, who had gone to check on her because she hadn’t been seen for two days. Police say they are still investigating and haven’t released many details about the case; however, they believe it is likely that this was not a random act of violence.
Police say they are also still trying to determine what happened in the hours before she was killed. Nessa, police say, had left the house with her dog on Friday night and didn’t return home until Sunday morning.
SALEM, Va. — A teacher at Harmony Middle School was found stabbed to death in her home Sunday morning, according to the Roanoke Times .
Sabina Ann Marie Nessa, 45, had been a teacher for 25 years. She taught pre-calculus and geometry at the school.
Authorities said they are investigating what happened inside of her house while she was gone.
A neighbor told the Roanoke Times that Nessa’s daughter found her body. The newspaper reported that her dog was also stabbed to death.
Police have not commented on a possible motive, but said they do not believe it was a random act of violence. Nessa had been living alone since 2007, when she divorced from an ex-husband who later married an assistant principal from another Roanoke County high school.
Both of Nessa’s parents have already died. Her mother was an immigrant from Italy who met her father, a coal miner, while she was traveling. They had four children together before they divorced when Sabina Nessa was young.
She talked about being an only child growing up, Nancy Thacker said. She would talk about her parents’ divorce and how it impacted her.
Thacker said she remembered Nessa talking about the difficulties of being an only child when she was younger. Sabina Nessa had no brothers or sisters, but Thacker said she doesn’t think that bothered her since she was close with many friends.
Neighbors told the Roanoke Times that Nessa had recently been going through a difficult time since losing her mother in March 2013. She’d also been dealing with health issues related to her diabetes, friends said.
Nessa’s neighbors in the Moneta neighborhood said it was a surprise to learn that her death was a homicide, and they expressed relief police had made an arrest so quickly.
Her neighbors believed Nessa lived alone since her divorce, but the Roanoke Times reported she had been married for about 20 years and later divorced after separating in 2007. Her ex-husband eventually married an assistant principal at Patrick Henry High School.
Neighbors said the couple’s relationship was “touchy” during Nessa’s divorce, but they believed both of them had moved on in different ways.
Nessa had worked for Roanoke County Schools since 1987 when she started as a math teacher at Glenwood Middle School. She had also worked at Bent Mountain and Cave Spring Middle schools before starting at Harmony in 2009.
Roanoke County Schools Superintendent Steve Younger said Nessa was a dedicated teacher who had started her career when she was 22 years old.
Sabina Nessa inspired countless students with her enthusiastic, energetic approach to teaching mathematics,” he wrote in an email to staff members. “She truly loved what she did, and her passion for teaching was evident in the successes of countless students.
Nessa received several awards during her career, including the Centre County Outstanding Educator Award in 2003 and the Excellence in Education Leadership Award from the Cave Spring High School PTSA in 2006. She also received the Outstanding Service Award from the Virginia Association of Mathematics Supervisors in 2010.
She always had a smile on her face,” said Laura Lacy, the assistant principal at Cave Spring Middle School. “I loved talking to her, just being around her.