Fairfax County police have begun searching for the man who purportedly murdered his ex-girlfriend following an alleged argument in their home that occurred more than a week ago.
Joel Mosso Merino, 27, whom Fairfax Police Chief Kevin Davis described as “Fairfax County’s most wanted,” is wanted for second-degree murder and the disposal of the body of his ex-girlfriend Hannah Choi, 35.
Fairfax County Police Department’s Bureau Chief for Major Crimes Ed O’Carroll said the case started as a missing person case but later escalated into a homicide. Authorities from D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland, have joined the investigation.
Choi was reportedly last seen in the Virginia home she shared with Merino in the 5300 block of Jesmond Street in the suburb of Kingstowne on March 5. Surveillance footage captured Choi and Merino together, and authorities learned from their neighbors that the two allegedly “may have had an argument” that night.
Choi’s friends reported her missing after they failed to contact her and find her in the home she shared with Merino. She also missed several appointments, which left them concerned.
“Her friends contacted law enforcement at the serious concern for her well-being,” O’Carroll said. “Our patrol officers rapidly responded and ultimately check [sic] the house and the house appeared generally to be an order, except for bedding – which appeared to be missing from one of the bedrooms.”
Investigators believe that Choi was either injured or killed inside their home and that Merino moved her body to a different location after the incident. Authorities managed to identify the car Merino used, which they found in Washington, D.C., on March 7. Evidence inside the car suggested that Choi might have been hurt before she disappeared.
The police described Choi as a 5-foot-4 woman weighing 125 pounds with black eyes, brown hair and a tattoo of a Chinese symbol on her ankle.
Police are searching Piscataway Park, where Merino reportedly spent some time during the night of and the morning after Choi’s disappearance. Investigators believe the man might have fled to Atlanta, but he could have also gone back to Virginia.
“Detectives from our Fugitive Track and Apprehension Unit immediately assumed the investigation and began tracking Merino’s whereabouts,” the Fairfax County Police Department said in their report. “They quickly determined Merino fled the state and notified the United States Marshals Service to aid in apprehending Merino.”
During their investigation, authorities learned that Merino had no criminal history. They also said there are no records of distress calls made to their home.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the authorities at 1-866-411-TIPS.