Image: Enrico Luciano Mascaro
Gavin Dressler  /  The Virginian Review via AP
Murder suspect Enrico Luciano Mascaro enters the Alleghany County General District Courtroom for an extradition hearing Tuesday afternoon, July 19, in Covington, Va.
msnbc.com
updated 7/21/2011 12:02:33 PM ET 2011-07-21T16:02:33

The parents of a North Carolina man accused of killing a college-bound Illinois teen are reportedly grieving the loss of a young woman they loved "like a daughter."

Nineteen-year-old Enrico Luciano Mascaro has been charged with murder in the death of Danielle Dennis-Towne. Her body was reportedly found in his car's trunk July 15 in Clifton Forge, Va. According to the medical examiner, the young woman died of a gunshot wound to the head.

"We just want the public to know that we absolutely loved Danielle," the Mascaros said in a statement released to the Associated Press.

"No words can take back the tragedy that has enveloped both our and Danielle's family. What started as a harmless visit of old friends turned into a misfortune that broke the hearts of many — friends and family."

According to NBC Chicago, a nationwide alert was issued for Mascaro and Dennis-Towne after his family reported the pair missing from the family's home in Nags Head, N.C., on Friday.

On the same day, authorities in Kitty Hawk, N.C., issued an alert for a "person of interest" after reportedly receiving a tip about items — later traced to the pair — that were found in a wooded area. According to the Roanoke Times, police said the items led them to believe the pair needed to be found quickly.

Four hours later, police in Clifton Forge received information that the suspect's cell phone had twice "pinged" towers in the town, according to reports.

Authorities located Mascaro's Mustang, then reportedly arrested him after monitoring it for an hour.

According to reports, the teens were friends when the Mascaros lived in the Chicago area. His family reportedly moved to North Carolina in 2005.

"We do not know what happened that night, and Sylvia and I refuse to speculate and draw our own conclusions until we hear the facts," John Mascaro said in the family's statement.

He added that the couple's "hearts and prayers" are with the victim's friends and family members.

"We extend our deepest condolences toward Danielle's family and friends for we never imagined an incident such as this occurring."

"We love Danielle and we love our son Rico. No family dreams of this happening to them nor believes that they could fall victim to such an event. We feel terrible for her family and friends for their loss and we pray what seems like every minute of the day for them and for us.

"Thank you and may God be with us all during this trying time."

The Associated Press, WAVY-TV, The Roanoke Times and NBC Chicago contributed to this report.

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