Body Of “Runaway” Teen, Jholie Moussa, Found In Virginia Park; Person Of Interest In Custody
ALEXANDRIA, VA — Police have identified the body found in a wooded area of Woodlawn Park, Virginia, on Friday as a 16-year-old girl who was reported missing on January 13.
Fairfax County police said in a statement Monday that they were able to confirm the identity of the body as Jholie Moussa after finding the body “covered by leaves and debris.”
Police say they are investigating the case as a homicide. They also stated that they have detained a 17-year-old person of interest in connection with the case. Authorities have not released the 17-year-old’s name due to his age, but Jholie’s mother, Syreeta Steward-Hill, told News4 that the person of interest is the teen girl’s ex-boyfriend. Steward-Hill said in the interview that her daughter had a no-contact order against the young man.
Jholie was last seen on January 12 when she left home after telling her twin sister, Zhane, that she was stepping outside, according to WUSA9. Zhane recounted that Jhoulie had seemed distracted and was texting someone while she was doing her sister’s hair. “She was doing my hair and then she stopped, for a good minute, to text some more. Then, out of nowhere, she was like, ‘I gotta go, I gotta go!’”
Around 8 P.M., Jholie’s sister received a text from Jholie’s phone stating that she was en route to a party in Norfolk, Virginia — over three hours away. She never came home.
Her family reported her missing on January 13.
Major Richard Perez, major crimes commander for Fairfax County police, said that the person of interest is in custody and was charged with assaulting Jholie in an incident that police say occurred before she disappeared. He added that he has not been charged in connection with the girl’s death.
At a press conference, Perez fielded questions from reporters who asked why the teen was initially treated as a runaway. Perez defended the department’s investigation:
“I can tell you that we took it seriously from the very beginning, with a number of interviews that were done, with the information provided to us. If you’re asking me, do I wish we would have had a different result here as opposed to talking [about] Jholie’s death, absolutely, absolutely.”
He said officers had taken a report, conducted a number of interviews, contacted friends, searched homes and gone to Norfolk after getting the tip that she may have attended a party there.
On January 16, police met with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the FBI after noticing that Jholie had had no social-media contact with friends or family.
WUSA9 reported that Jholie received a phone call in the park where she was found on the night she disappeared from a phone that belonged to a 13-year-old boy. Jholie’s father reportedly tracked down the boy, who told him that he let a stranger borrow his phone to make the call.
Perez told reporters the investigation into Jholie’s death is still active, and that autopsy reports are pending.
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Main photo: Jholie Moussa [FBI]
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