Man who burned Falls Church mother to death arrested

Fairfax County police have arrested and charged the man they believe is responsible for setting Silvia "Kelly" Vaca Abacay on fire and killing her in a Falls Church apartment. The suspect, 47-year-old Richard Montano, of Arlington, is now being held in jail without bond. 

He's charged with second-degree murder for the death of 40-year-old Silvia "Kelly" Vaca Abacay. Surveillance footage of Montano entering the home prior to the murder was found and distributed to officers and the community.

Police say not only did he set Abacay on fire, but he stabbed her. 

On Wednesday just after 3 p.m., Fairfax County Police responded to the Villages at Falls Church Apartments in the 2900 block of Willston Place for a domestic dispute. A neighbor called police after hearing a man and woman arguing in an adjacent apartment. 

Officers observed smoke emanating from the apartment when they arrived. Inside, they found Abacay on fire and suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body. First responders extinguished the fire and attempted to provide life-saving measures, however, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives currently believe Montano forced entry into the apartment before he assaulted Ms. Abacay, and set her on fire. He eventually returned to his residence in Arlington where he was arrested without incident.

The big question remains why did Montano do it? FOX 5’s Sierra Fox asked Major Ed O’Carroll about the motive:

Richard Montano, 47

"In every homicide that’s one of our big questions is why. That is yet to be answered in this case," O'Carroll said. "I hope, my detectives hope, we’ll find out why. What we do have is evidence pointing that he is likely the only person responsible. We are not actively looking for anybody else, but we still have some questions, and we hope to get to the bottom of this."

Abacay's friends describe her as a great friend, mother, and person who was always the life of the party. There's a growing memorial where the tragedy took place at The Villages at Falls Church apartments. People are paying their respects by lighting candles and leaving flowers. 

"I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it," said Yerin Ronero, Abacay's friend. "I just couldn’t believe it. The person who did it is a friend of ours. We’ve known each other for a long time. It’s just shocking."

Image 1 of 2

Kelly Vaca Abacay, 40

Police say Montano is also charged with burglary with intent to commit murder and burning of an occupied dealing and that this is an ongoing domestic investigation. 

A friend of the victim has created a GoFundMe to help raise money for Kelly's grieving family to pay for funeral expenses and to help return her to her native country of Bolivia. According to the page, she had two children, a 14-year old daughter and a 17-year old son and leaves them behind in addition to many other relatives and friends.