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The Case of Two Slain Women Whose Remains Were Found in Separate Storage Facilities Have Been Linked To One Man

Fanta Xayavong's remains were found in a storage unit a week after Joseph Jorgenson was charged with the death and dismemberment of his ex-girlfriend, Manijeh "Mani" Starren.

By Elisabeth Ford
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Minnesota man is a person of interest in two cases of women found dead in separate storage units, police say.

Police suspect Joseph Jorgenson, 40, is involved in the disappearance and death of 33-year-old Fanta Xayavong, whose remains were found in a Coon Rapids, Minnesota storage facility on Thursday, the Star Tribune reported.

The investigation comes a week after Jorgenson was charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Manijeh "Mani" Starren, 33, whose dismembered body was found in a Woodbury storage facility.

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Police first revealed the disappearance of Xayavong in a June 29 press conference, saying that no one had heard from her in two years. Jorgenson and Xayavong have a connection, according to police.

A photo of Fanta Xayavong

Friends and family of the woman last heard from her in July 2021, the Tribune reported. It was not until May 25 of this year when a caller reported Xayavong missing to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Human Trafficking tip line, the city of St. Paul said in a news release.

The caller was concerned after losing contact with Xayavong, alleging in the tip line call that she was in an abusive relationship with Jorgenson.

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St. Paul police became concerned for Xayavong’s welfare due to her connection to Jorgenson and the recent charges against him, the news release stated.

“To put it bluntly, we are concerned for her safety also,” Sgt. Mike Ernster said at the press conference.

A mugshot of Joseph Jorgenson

On July 6, investigators executed a search warrant at a storage unit located on 9100 block of University Avenue Northwest in Coon Rapids, where human remains were found.

The remains were transported to the medical examiner’s office where, through further analysis, they were identified as belonging to Xayavong. Her death was ruled a homicide.

"It's nothing short of horrific," Ernster said in a Friday press conference.

SPPD investigators also served a search warrant on a home previously owned by Jorgenson. They have not revealed where or when Xayavong’s death occurred, nor have they officially charged Jorgenson in her death.

The news regarding Xayavong follows Jorgenson’s arrest in connection to the death and dismemberment of ex-girlfriend Manijeh "Mani" Starren. He was charged with second-degree murder for his alleged involvement in that case.

A photo of Manijeh Starren

According to court documents, surveillance video from Starren's apartment building shows her running from her home on April 21. Authorities allege in the documents that Jorgenson pulled her back into the apartment, and Starren was never seen on video again.

Jorgenson was caught on camera going in and out of the apartment, once carrying luggage to a vehicle that sped off with Jorgenson in the passenger seat, authorities said.

When investigators issued a search warrant at a Woodbury storage facility, they located the dismembered remains of Starren in a unit rented in Jorgenson’s roommate’s name.

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Police arrested Jorgenson on June 26 after he reportedly barricaded himself in his apartment, started a fire and charged at officers, trying to disarm them.

After expressing condolences to the victims’ families at Friday’s news conference, Henry said "cases like this are extremely rare, but they are reminders to all of us that monsters can be real."

Police are now trying to determine if there are more missing people connected to Jorgenson.

Ernster and Chief Axel Henry ask anyone who knows missing people that may have had a connection with Jorgenson to call the BCA tip line at 877-996-6222 or email bca.tips@state.mn.us.

"We're looking for people with any information to call us," Ernster said. "If there is anything else out there, we want to know and try to make a difference for some other family that might be out there."

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