An American woman who had traveled to Nepal to help those affected by April's deadly earthquake was beaten to death last month, Nepali officials said this weekend.
Dahlia Yehia, 25, had been in Nepal since July 20 and was renting a room in Pokhara, northwest of Kathmandu. A report in the English-language Himalayan Times said that Yehia was killed with a hammer Aug. 7 and her body was thrown into the Seti River.
Nepali police made the murder public Friday, one day after arresting 30-year-old Narayan Paudel, from whom Yehia was renting her room, for the crime. A police spokesperson told The Himalayan Times that Paudel had confessed to the murder. The paper also reported that Paudel jumped from the roof of police headquarters in Pokhara Friday in a possible attempt to kill himself, but survived with serious injuries.
Police were continuing to search the Seti River for Yehia's body Tuesday. Police official Hari Bahadur Pal told the Associated Press that authorities plan to seek the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for Paudel, but that they need the body to help build a strong case.
Pal said Paudel had described how he hammered Yehia to death and threw her body into the river. Pal also said police found blood-soaked clothes and ropes they believed were used to tie Yehia's body.
Authorities believe the motive behind the murder was money, with Paudel saying he took money from Yehia, according to Pal.
A native of Kalamazoo, Mich., Yehia had last spoken to her family the day before her death. The family set up a Find Dahlia Facebook page and confirmed Thursday that she had died.
"Recently, we received word from the US Embassy that Dahlia's life has been taken from us. We are devastated by this senseless loss of a beautiful life," a statement posted on the Facebook page said. "For those who haven't had the joy of spending time with Dahlia, know that she is a giver, lover, and humanitarian, who devoted her life to others less fortunate both domestic and abroad."
Yehia had most recently worked as an art teacher at the Sci-Tech Preparatory Academy in Austin, Texas. Students and staff there learned of her death Friday.
"It was just like her to be helping others. I mean, that's just kind of who she was," school spokesperson Bailey Bounds told KTBC.
"The kids loved having her for their art teacher last year," the school said in a statement on its Facebook page. "We are all saddened by the loss of such a special spirit!"
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake this past April killed over 9,000 people, with the vast majority of deaths and damage occurring in Nepal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.