RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The parents of a North Carolina man accused of killing an Illinois woman and taking her body to Virginia say they are grieving for the loss of the 18-year-old victim but cannot speculate on the circumstances of her death.
John Mascaro said Thursday that he and his wife, Sylvia Mascaro, considered the victim "like a daughter."
"We just want the public to know that we absolutely loved Danielle," the Mascaros said in a statement released to the Associated Press.
"No words can take back the tragedy that has enveloped both our and Danielle's family. What started as a harmless visit of old friends turned into a misfortune that broke the hearts of many -- friends and family."
Mascaro's son, 19-year-old Enrico Luciano Mascaro, has been charged with murder in the death of Danielle Dennis-Towne. Her body was found in his car's trunk July 15 in Clifton Forge, Va.
John Mascaro had reported the two young people missing from the Mascaro family's Nags Head home.
Enrico Mascaro was traced through a cellphone location service to Clifton Forge, Va., where he was taken into custody by police after the victim's body was discovered.
A medical examiner said the young woman died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Enrico Mascaro had been friends with Dennis-Townes when both families lived in the Chicago area. The Mascaro family moved to Nags Head in 2005.
"We do not know what happened that night, and Syliva and I refuse to speculate and draw our own conclusions until we hear the facts," John Mascaro said.
He added that the couple "hearts and prayers" are with the victim's friends and family members.
"We extend our deepest condolences toward Danielle's family and friends for we never imagined an incident such as this occurring," the statement continues.
"We love Danielle and we love our son Rico. No family dreams of this happening to them nor believes that they could fall victim to such an event. We feel terrible for her family and friends for their loss and we pray what seems like every minute of the day for them and for us.
"Thank you and may God be with us all during this trying time."
Enrico Mascaro is currently being held in a detention center in Manteo.
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