FARIFAX, Va. — Fairfax County police offered a defense Friday against suggestions they did not move quickly enough or spread the word loudly enough after 16-year-old Jholie Moussa disappeared in January.
She was found dead two weeks later not far from her home, and on Thursday an ex-boyfriend was charged with her murder.
Police did not put out a public notice that she was missing when her family reported it the Saturday of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. Police initially considered her a possible runaway, since she had said she was going to Norfolk for a party the night prior.
“From the moment that we got this call, we did not stop [the effort] to find Jholie,” Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler said Friday, as her family sat in the back of the room.
“We entered her into the missing juvenile system, which then has national and regional reach,” Roessler said.
Police also checked several leads on Moussa’s possible location that weekend, the department said.
“The police department and every other agency did everything possible to find Jholie. We are now doing everything possible to bring justice,” Roessler said.
Nebiyu Ebrahim, who is now 18, is charged with first degree murder. While the case has been filed in juvenile court since he was under 18 when Moussa was killed, Virginia law outlines a process that would allow the case to be shifted to adult court.
“This is yet another horrible, tragic death of a young person from our community that had a bright future,” Roessler said.
Police continue to search for additional evidence.
A dive team searched for more evidence Friday in a retention pond near Woodlawn Park in the Alexandria area where Moussa’s body was found in a shallow grave. The pond is also near Ebrahim and Moussa’s homes.
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