KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A 25-year-old Kalamazoo, Michigan woman who went missing in Nepal last month has been murdered, police there say.
Dahlia Yehia had been traveling in Nepal since July 20. Social media posts by family say they lost contact with her in early August.
On Friday, family members said they had been notified by the U.S. Embassy that Yehia had been murdered.
Overseas media outlets report the killer is Narayan Prasad Paudel, who is from the area of Pokhara, Nepal. Citing a local police spokesman, The Himalayan Times reports Paudel admitted to killing Yehia as she slept.
Yehia first came into contact with Paudel in early August when he invited her via the Internet to stay with him at his house as part of an earthquake relief support program, according to The Himalayan Times. Other overseas media outlets have reported she was in Nepal to help victims of the April earthquake that devastated the county and left some 8,000 people dead.
The Himalayan Times says Yehia stayed with Paudel for three days before he killed her, beating her with a hammer and a “lathi,” which according to one online Nepali dictionary is a heavy stick or staff. Paudel reportedly told police that after the murder, he stuffed Yehia’s body into a bag and threw it into the nearby Seti River.
Her body has not been found and Paudel’s motive is not yet clear.
During Paudel’s interrogation, he told police he had to use the restroom and they removed his handcuffs, The Himalayan Times is reporting. He then somehow made it to the roof of the police station and jumped off. He broke his leg, but is expected to survive.
Yehia’s family posted a statement on Facebook after getting news of her death.
“We are devastated by this senseless loss of a beautiful life,” the post reads in part. “For those who haven’t had the joy of spending time with Dahlia, know that she is a giver, lover, and humanitarian, who devoted her life to others less fortunate both domestic and abroad.”
“Even though Dahlia was taken from us much too soon, she surely made her mark on the world, and will be remembered lovingly by all of us,” the post continued.
Yehia graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2011 and had a bachelor’s degree in painting, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was an art teacher at a school in Austin, Texas last year.
Portage Central High School Assistant Principal Jason Frink released this statement on Yehia’s death Monday evening:
“The Portage Central High School staff and community is truly saddened by the loss of Dahlia Yehia. Dahlia represented what we might hope of all our students – she was an outstanding scholar, athlete and artist. She was a strong woman who desired to make the world a better place. As a high school student she used part of her senior art project to inform people about the plight of child soldiers in Uganda – years before the issue gained national attention. She continued humanitarian work throughout her life. Though she will be greatly missed, she will continue to inspire us.”