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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Arrest made in murder of football player
Gainesville man charged in death of Ferrum sophomore

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


A Ferrum College football player was found stabbed to death Friday evening in Fairfax County.

The Fairfax County Police Department identified the victim as Zavier Odell Stringfellow, 19, of Manassas.

Stringfellow was found in a minivan that had crashed into a barrier at the end of a service road in the Vienna area.

On Saturday, U.S. Marshals arrested Johnny E. Bonilla, 22, of Gainesville at his home and charged him with murder in the death of Stringfellow.

According to a press release from the Fairfax County Police Department, the suspect and victim did not know each other before the incident. However, they had planned to meet Friday evening.

Police said the two apparently met, there was a struggle and Stringfellow was stabbed in the upper body.

An autopsy is being conducted by the Office of the Medical Examiner.

Stringfellow, a sophomore player, was a member of Ferrum's last two football teams, which finished with a combined 14-6 record, finished second in the USA South Athletic Conference in 2011 and shared the league championship with Christopher Newport University (CNU) and Maryville (Tenn.) College this past season.

Stringfellow entered the program as a defensive end, but was moved to linebacker for the 2012 campaign.

As a freshman, Stringfellow played in four games -- against Emory & Henry College, Bridgewater College, Methodist (N.C.) University and Greensboro (N.C.) College. The Panthers were victorious in three of those games.

Stringfellow was credited with six solo tackles, three of which were stops for a total of minus nine yards, one quarterback sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

This past season, Stringfellow appeared in three games, all conference games and all of which were played on the road; wins at Averett University and Greensboro and a setback at CNU. He was credited with no defensive statistics.

Stringfellow was an All-Group AAA performer at Battlefield High School in Haymarket. During his senior year, the Bobcats, coached by former Virginia Tech quarterback Mark Cox, won the Northwest Region championship and the Group AAA state title.

Local football fans may remember Stringfellow because Franklin County played Battlefield in the 2009 regional playoffs and in postseason play in 2011, his first year at Ferrum.

Stringfellow's funeral will be conducted Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. at Beulah Baptist Church in Broad Run, according to information posted on Ferrum's athletic website. Visitation is set for 10 a.m. at the church.

Joynes Funeral Home in Warrenton is in charge of arrangements.

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