Spotsylvania authorities are investigating the slaying of a 21-year-old woman found shot in the head at the end of a driveway in a rural area late Sunday.
Heather Ciccone of Spotsylvania suffered what Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pearce described as “severe trauma to her upper body.”
According to a search warrant filed in Stafford County Circuit Court, Ciccone suffered a gunshot wound to the back of her head.
The search warrant, filed Monday by Spotsylvania Detective Donnie Reid, gave police authority to search the 2010 Kia that Ciccone was found in. It was filed in Stafford because the magistrate who issued the warrant was in the Stafford magistrate's office. Stafford and Spotsylvania are in the same judicial district.
According to Pearce, a resident in the 10300 block of Piney Branch Road called the Sheriff’s Office shortly after 11 p.m. to report a vehicle at the end of his driveway that he did not recognize. He told police that the driver appeared to be unresponsive and passed out behind the steering wheel.
Deputies arrived and found Ciccone and lots of blood. Pearce said police don’t know of any connection Ciccone had to the home, and detectives are working to determine who killed her and why.
Other sources said social media postings showed that Ciccone had been having issues with another young woman regarding a man that included threats made by the other woman and unwelcome visits by the woman to Ciccone’s home.
In a Facebook post Dec. 2, her sister wrote that she needed to file “harassment and stalking charges.”
But police gave no indication that a suspect had been identified as of Monday.
Pearce asked that anyone with any information about Ciccone’s slaying call the Sheriff’s Office at 582-7115 or Crime Solvers at 582-5822.
Chancellor High School Athletic Director Rod Crooks said Ciccone played basketball at the school through 11th grade. He said she didn’t play her senior year because of a job, but that he’d always tell her she had a spot on the team if she changed her mind.
“We’ll take you now!” he recalled saying whenever they crossed paths. She would smile and laugh.
He said he saw Ciccone—who he described as pleasant and respectful—about two months ago when she was working at the Red Robin restaurant in Cosner’s Corner. She approached his table to say hello, and he said he teased her about not playing basketball her senior year.
“It’s just pretty much caught everybody off guard, especially here in Spotsylvania County,” Crooks said of the slaying.
Red Robin General Manager Clifton Wright declined to talk about Ciccone “out of respect for the family and all of our team members.”
“We’re going to just stay tight-knit and take care of one another right now,” he said.
J.P. Gibbons said Ciccone was a student aide for the guidance counselor’s office at Chancellor Middle School and also an assistant for the basketball team when he was the coach.
After every game, he said, the girl with the infectious smile would volunteer to wash and fold the uniforms. And she was a solid basketball player, scoring 21 points against Eastern View High School during her sophomore year in 2009.
Gibbons said she “always pointed herself in a positive direction.”
“She was driven both on and off the basketball court,” said Gibbons, now a guidance counselor and assistant football coach at Chancellor High. “I expected her to do some great things.”
A Germanna Community College spokesman said Ciccone was enrolled at the school during the spring 2013 semester.
Robert Delbuono, who lives on Piney Branch Road near where Ciccone was found, described the area with wooded lots and long driveways as “uneventful,” aside from some break-ins several years ago.
“I very seldom see anything abnormal,” said Delbuono, who has lived there for nearly three decades. “Same cars, same people.”
It’s not uncommon to hear gunshots from hunters in that part of Spotsylvania, but Delbuono said he didn’t hear anything Sunday night—when a neighbor reported the suspicious car to the Sheriff’s Office.
“This doesn’t happen here, but then again, in America today, we’re ready for anything,” said Delbuono. “That’s just a fact of life. It comes to your door now.”
In a Facebook post, Courtney Ciccone called her sister’s murder a “selfish, unthinkable act of hate.” She called Heather the “sweetest, most caring person you’d meet.”
“Someone murdered her in cold blood and left her to die alone!” Courtney Ciccone wrote. “Words can’t even describe what they are putting our family through and what her family is going to miss out on.”
Spotsylvania resident Steffany Schiel, a family friend, said in a message to The Free Lance–Star that the victim’s parents “loved her more than any parent could.”
Heather’s father, Dennis Ciccone, in June shared a Facebook post of an illustration with the text: “A daughter may outgrow your lap ... but she will NEVER outgrow your heart.”
“Love u girls,” he wrote.