WASHINGTON — The ex-boyfriend of a Fairfax County teenager whose body was discovered in a park in January has been charged with murder, prosecutors confirmed.
Nebiyu Ebrahim, 18, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jholie Moussa, 16, who went missing on Jan. 12. Her body was found on Jan. 26 in Woodlawn Park, in the Alexandria section, less than a mile from her house. Fairfax County police said the park is also within walking distance from the home of Ebrahim’s parents, where he also lived.
The chief medical examiner’s office ruled Moussa’s cause of death to be asphyxia by smothering and blunt force trauma, police said.
“Knowing doesn’t make things easier,” Moussa’s aunt, Veronica Eyenga, told WTOP as the family learned more about the teen girl’s killing. “If anything, it just makes it harder because now we’re learning facts and details that we just never wanted to ever imagine in our lives.”
A few days after Moussa’s body was discovered, Ebrahim, then 17, was taken into custody and charged with having previously assaulted her. At that time, he was named a person of interest in her death.
According to the Fairfax County police, Moussa’s twin sister told them Jholie had left their home on Jan. 12, saying she was running an errand. She later texted that she was going to a party in Norfolk.
After she was missing for a week, the FBI got involved with the search. At the time, authorities said they had no indication that she was in any danger and were treating the case as a runaway. Fairfax County police didn’t send an Amber Alert, which would have let the entire area know she was in danger.
Moussa’s relatives, including Eyenga, said running away was “not her style.”
“I’m sad beyond words. And our family continues to be sad,” Eyenga said.
She added that she was especially heartbroken to find out that her niece’s burden “was a domestic situation until after the fact.” And, Eyenga said that because Ebrahim was a minor at the time of Moussa’s assault, it makes it hard to expose if he had possibly abused other girls.
“We know they had a really, really horrible relationship, but you never envision in a thousand years that someone who says they love you would turn around and just kill you like this,” Eyenga said. “Unfortunately, this is a cycle that we see so many of our young girls falling in, but never in a million years had we imagine that it would hit so close to home.”
After Moussa’s death, Eyenga began Not A Runaway Inc., a nonprofit she said will focus on pushing for alerts to be sent in more missing children cases. The organization is also working on educating kids on teen domestic violence.
Knowing the details behind Moussa’s death doesn’t make things easier, Eyenga said, but that “it just opens up these wounds and just makes it painful. It’s like we’re reliving her disappearance all over again.”
Eyenga added, “The shock, the numbness, just doesn’t go away.”
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty and Mike Murillo contributed to this report.
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