A teenage boy is now being investigated as a person of interest in connection with the death of Jholie Moussa, a 16-year-old girl whose body was discovered last week covered by leaves and brush in the wooded area of a Fairfax County, Virginia park.
The 17-year-old boy is not being charged with her murder, but he is facing a count of felony assault in connection to an attack that happened to Moussa before she died, The Washington Post reported. The assault was previously unreported, and police discovered it during their search for Moussa. The 17-year-old was arrested January 18 in the assault, according to the Post.
Details surrounding that attack, including when it happened, are unclear. Because he is a juvenile, his identity is not yet being released. Police did not reveal what his relationship is to Moussa.
On Tuesday, Major Rich Perez, major crimes commander for Fairfax County police, spoke at a news conference to announce the person of interest. He also responded to criticism over the department’s decision to initially look at Moussa’s disappearance as a runaway teen scenario.
"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," Perez said, as reported by CBS News. "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."
The high school sophomore went missing over two weeks ago. She was hanging out with her twin, doing her hair, when she received a text. She then told her sister, Zhane, she had to go, according to NBC, without disclosing any details.
Zhane said that Jholie had been acting weird and that she was texting an unknown person, TIME reported.
"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!'" the sister told NBC Washington.
Later that evening, Jholie texted Zhane to tell her she was going to attend a party three hours away. The girls’ mother missed a call from Jholie that same night.
Jholie’s body was found less than a mile from their home.
An autopsy report which police hope will reveal her exact cause of death is still pending. WREG reported that, despite the lack of a full autopsy report, Moussa’s death is already being investigated as a homicide.
[Photo: Fairfax County Police Department]