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Va. woman convicted for second time in killings of her mother, sister



A Virginia woman was found guilty Friday of killing her mother and a sister and staging their deaths as a murder-suicide as part of a scheme to steal more than $400,000 to pay for a new home. It was the second time that a Fairfax County jury convicted Megan Hargan of two counts of murder, after guilty verdicts in 2022 were thrown out because of juror misconduct.

Hargan, 40, was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of her mother, Pamela Hansen Hargan, 63, and her sister Helen Hargan, 24, on July, 14, 2017. Jurors also found her guilty of two counts of felony firearm use.

Not long after the crime, Fairfax County police declared that Helen Hargan had killed Pamela Hargan with a rifle before turning the gun on herself. But during a sprawling, 16-month investigation that followed, detectives pieced together clues that pointed to a stunning twist: Megan Hargan had actually killed both women.

Fairfax County prosecutors built a case that relied on a range of circumstantial evidence. They contended that Megan Hargan impersonated her mother to try to steal nearly $420,000 to cover the costs of closing on a home purchase. But defense attorneys argued that it was Helen Hargan who pulled the trigger of the roughly 23-inch firearm in their McLean, Va., home that day, first on her mother and then on herself.

This month’s trial was not the first time that a jury has had to reconcile opposing theories, and decide whether Helen Hargan could have died by suicide using a rifle that long.

In March 2022, Megan Hargan was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in the killings. But eight months after the verdicts, a judge vacated her convictions, after defense attorneys revealed that a juror in the 2022 trial went home and used her rifle to see if the defense’s theory was plausible. She then told other jurors about her experiment before they reached a verdict, court filings show.


“This is a tale of two sisters, Helen Hargan and Megan,” public defender Andrew Elders, representing Megan Hargan, said in his opening statement earlier this month. “One of them killed their mother. … It’s up to you to decide which one of those two theories you’re going to believe.”

As Fairfax County prosecutors told it, Megan Hargan killed her family members the same day that she and her husband were supposed to purchase a house in Morgantown, W.Va. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kelsey Gill argued that Hargan unsuccessfully tried to wire more than $400,000 out of her mother’s Capital One bank account the day before the killings.

“The evidence will show that Pam was incensed that someone would try to steal over $400,000,” Gill said in an opening statement. “The evidence will also show that Megan desperately needed this money. Those two things, as well as a lifetime of jealousy and insecurity, came to a head that morning at the Hargan home.”

Over the course of six days, prosecutors presented an array of circumstantial evidence, including bank statements showing that Pam Hargan had $603,905.35 in her savings account a month before she died, whereas Megan Hargan had just $443 that July. Prosecutors also showed the jury a bank statement with Pamela Hargan’s savings account information and number on it, but listing the name and address of Megan Hargan.

A real estate agent testified that Megan Hargan and her then-husband gave the agent that sheet of paper as proof of available funds.

After Megan Hargan, in the guise of Pam Hargan, called Capital One on July 13 to transfer $430,000 from her mother’s savings, an employee attempted to verify the request.

“No. I did not do that,” Pam Hargan, whose estate totaled to about $8 million, said to an employee in a recorded call on her cellphone. “Those accounts are not to be touched. Period.”


Jurors watched a video interview with homicide detectives and Megan Hargan days after her sister and mother were found dead. In the interview, Hargan told Brian Byerson, the lead detective, that Helen Hargan struggled with mental health problems and that her mother thought that Helen had been addicted to drugs.

After 12 hours of deliberations Thursday and Friday, the jurors filed into the courtroom while another sister, Ashley Hargan, sat on a bench with a victim’s advocate by her side. She breathed heavily, tapping her foot, while awaiting the jury’s verdict on whether one of her sisters would be convicted of killing the other.

Megan Hargan stood with her lawyers, one of whom patted her back. Shortly after court clerk read, “Guilty,” one juror began to wipe away tears. Ashley Hargan nodded slowly, then quickly, and mouthed, “Thank you.”

Source: Washington Post

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