Police still hope to solve I-64 murder of teenage girl 20 years later

Suspect sketch from 1999 (Left), Sara Bruehl (Right) | Courtesy of Virginia State Police
Suspect sketch from 1999 (Left), Sara Bruehl (Right) | Courtesy of Virginia State Police(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 8, 2019 at 4:46 PM EDT
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Virginia State Police say they are still pursuing leads in the fatal shooting 20 years ago of a Virginia high school graduate as she drove on Interstate 64.

Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Sara Bruehl, of Mechanicsville. State police said in a news release that her mother, Chris McIlwee, plans to mark the anniversary by visiting her daughter's grave, something she does each year.

Police say she was driving along I-64 near the Bottoms Bridge exit when she was killed around 9:10 p.m. on a Sunday evening.

Bruehl was with two of her friends; all three had recently graduated from Atlee High School in Hanover County.

Police have said someone in a small, red car began tailing their car. As the girls drove back from a a trip to the beach, police said the two cars had numerous confrontations over about 60 miles.

The car reportedly had tinted windows and halogen lights. Witnesses reported the driver engaging in a "cat-and-mouse" game of speeding up, slowing down, and changing lanes throughout the stretch on the interstate.

Then, near the Bottoms Bridge exit, the driver – described as a light-skinned African-American or Hispanic man with dark eyes and a goatee – pulled up beside their car and rolled down his driver's side window.

The girls said he raised a handgun and fired four shots into their car, hitting Bruehl twice in the head. Their car crashed off the right side of the interstate, hitting a tree.

One of the other girls, an 18-year-old who was in the front passenger seat, was shot as well, but recovered. The other passenger, 17 at the time, was in the backseat and was injured in the crash. Both survived the incident.

Bruehl's mother is not giving up hope and created a

, which she hopes will generate tips for police to find answers.

"We know there are people out there today, even 20 years later, who know who was responsible for taking this young girl's life and injuring her friends," said Captain Tim Ring, VSP BCI Richmond Field Office Commander. "State police is still committed to identifying and bringing him to justice. We owe it to Sara and her family to solve this case once and for all. That's why we are still pursuing leads and still asking for people to come forward with any information they may have to share on this drive-by-shooting."

Anyone with information is asked to call (804) 537-6788 or email

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