There was a steady stream of students at McLean High School on Tuesday afternoon, picking up class schedules for the new school year -- but at a funeral home in nearby Vienna, sadness darkened the upcoming year as other classmates said goodbye to a friend.
They were attending the visitation for 16-year-old Emylee Lonczak, whose body was found by Fairfax County Police last Friday between the fences of two homes in an affluent Vienna neighborhood.
Lonczak's parents had reported her missing a week ago, saying she may have run away. A tip led police to the area Friday, where they made the troubling discovery. They say a criminal investigation is underway.
Students say they, too, have questions about how their classmate died -- but their focus now is mostly dealing with the sudden loss.
"It's really shocking, especially because everybody really knew her and liked her a lot.... Losing a friend at school [is] really hurting everyone," said senior Zach Glenn.
Parents of McLean High students were notified of the death in a letter from the principal. One mom, Lisa Ohm, summed up the feelings of many parents: "It's a dark cloud."
Residents of the Vienna neighborhood where Lonczak's body was discovered watched as police spent almost 12 hours at the scene.
A man who lives in one of the homes next to the scene told News4 that police visited his house.
"I can certainly understand why people should be concerned," said Bud Walker, of Fairfax County police. "This is not obviously something that happens in everyone's neighborhood. What I can say is that everything that is involved in this case has been identified by the police."
However, authorities have released few details in the case.
Those who knew Lonczak better are also reflecting on her outgoing personality.
A fellow junior carpooled with her to soccer and worked with her on the yearbook. "She was really funny and really kind... also pretty good at soccer," the girl said.
Lonczak would have been a junior this fall. She is survived by her parents and six brothers, including a twin who also attends McLean High.