A woman who shot and killed her mother and sister at their shared home in McLean six years ago has been convicted of murder for a second time.
A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury found Megan Hargan guilty of first-degree murder and using a firearm while committing a felony on Friday (Sept. 22) after a previous conviction got vacated due to juror misconduct.
“Pamela and Helen [Hargan] were loved by many, and their deaths in 2017 tore this community apart, with the added shock and horror of being killed in their own home by a family member,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement on Friday. “…Today’s guilty verdict has been a long time coming, and I hope [that] Pam and Helen’s loved ones will be able to take one step closer to healing.”
According to news releases from the time, police officers discovered the bodies of Pamela, 63, and Helen Hargan, 24, inside their home in the 6700 block of Dean Drive on July 14, 2017 after receiving a call around 2 p.m. that someone might’ve been killed there.
All three women lived in the house at the time, along with Megan Hargan’s then-8-year-old daughter, who wasn’t home when the shootings occurred, according to Descano’s office.
The Fairfax County Police Department initially characterized the killings as a murder-suicide, where Helen Hargan shot her mother before turning the gun on herself. But when announcing Megan Hargan’s arrest on Nov. 9, 2018, officials said there was suspicion “early on” that the scene may have been staged, WTOP reported.
Those suspicions honed in on Megan Hargan after investigators learned that she had tried to transfer money from her mother Pamela’s bank account on both the day before and the day of the murders, the FCPD said in 2018.
From there, police determined that the killings were motivated by a conflict over finances, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office said in a press release:
Megan, who was buying a house for her family, resented that her mother, Pamela, wasn’t helping her financially but was at the same time helping her sister Helen to buy a house. On July 13, the day before the killings, Megan attempted to transfer upwards of $400,000 from her mother’s bank account to pay for Megan’s new house, which was closing that day. The transaction was flagged as fraud, and the next day Megan shot her mother before attempting to make the same wire transfer again from her mother’s account. She then shot her sister Helen, who was upstairs. Both family members were killed by a .22 rifle, which belonged to Megan’s husband and was being stored in the McLean house temporarily.
A grand jury indicted Megan Hargan on two counts each of first-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony on Nov. 8, 2018. Later that month, she was extradited to Fairfax County from near where she was living in Monongalia County, West Virginia.
After a 13-day trial in March 2022, a Fairfax County jury found Megan Hargan guilty of murder and recommended that she be sentenced to life in prison. However, Circuit Court Judge Brett Kassabian vacated the conviction on Nov. 9, 2022 after finding that a juror had experimented with a rifle to see if Helen Hargan could’ve used it to die by suicide, the Washington Post reported.
Defense attorneys argued during this month’s retrial that prosecution’s case relied too much on circumstantial evidence and failed to disprove the murder-suicide scenario originally described by police, according to WUSA9.
The jury for the second trial began deliberations last Wednesday (Sept. 20).
“When the first conviction was vacated, I promised that my office would continue to fight for justice for the Hargan family and for the community, and today we have obtained that outcome,” Descano said, thanking Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Kelsey Gill and Eric Clingan for handling the case.
Hargan is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 26, 2024, again facing the possibility of up to life in prison.
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