Two men charged in 2016 murder of Fort Hunt ES teacher’s aide

Tarreece Sampson smiling in a black-and-white photo
An image of Tarreece Sampson from his Facebook page.

More than two years after a 24-year-old teacher’s aide at Fort Hunt Elementary School was killed at a Richmond Highway apartment complex, two men have been charged in his murder.

Tre’Sur Hawkins, 19, and Charles Benson, 24, each face first-degree murder charges in the death of Tarreece Sampson, who was shot and killed early in the morning on May 20, 2016. Police say Sampson randomly encountered the two men in the parking lot of the Cityside Huntington Metro apartment complex at 6034 Richmond Highway (see map) around 2 a.m.

Both Hawkins and Benson are being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Police announced the arrests on Thursday, but said that Benson has been in custody since Sept. 4, 2018. In a press release announcing the arrests on Thursday, the department said Benson’s arrest wasn’t announced at the time in order to “maintain the integrity of the investigation” into Hawkins.

The department’s announcement came hours after publication of an article in The Washington Post that announced that Benson had been arrested and charged with Sampson’s murder, and that his case has now advanced to the grand jury phase after a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Lt. Stephen Wallace, supervisor for the FCPD’s homicide unit, said Friday that Hawkins had been held in Fairfax County without bond on an unrelated charge since August. Because the murder charge against Hawkins took longer to build, detectives wanted Benson’s murder charge to be kept secret from Hawkins. Wallace cited concerns over Hawkins potentially fleeing if he were to be released on the lesser charge before the Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney signed off on Hawkins’s arrest for Sampson’s killing.

The Post’s article on Wednesday’s hearing detailed some of circumstances of the crime as well as the evidence against the two men. A friend of Sampson’s who was on the phone with him at the time of the murder testified that he heard a single gunshot and then Sampson saying that he had been shot, The Post reported.

Benson was on probation in Washington D.C. at the time of the murder, and a GPS device he was wearing placed him at the Cityside Apartments, The Post reported. Benson’s brother-in-law also testified that he gave Benson and Hawkins a gun the day before the murder, and that both men later told him about shooting a person while out breaking into cars, The Post reported.

Sampson’s killing was the only unsolved homicide in the Richmond Highway area over the past few years. The police had offered a reward for information in the case in September 2017, but little information about the investigation was known until Thursday’s announcement.

Wallace credited lead detective Jeremy Hinson for working with multiple agencies during the years-long investigation, following up on every lead and tip that came to his office, and keeping in constant contact with the victim’s family.

“It was extremely difficult,” Wallace said of the investigation.