Ex-boyfriend sought in Fairfax Co. woman’s apparent killing

Hannah Choi was reported missing on March 6. And on Tuesday, police charged Joel Mosso Merino with second-degree murder. Both are still missing. (Courtesy Fairfax Co. police)

A Fairfax County, Virginia, man has been charged with second-degree murder in the apparent death of his former girlfriend.

But for now, both remain missing.

Joel Mosso Merino, 27, has apparently fled the state, authorities said, as a search continues for him and 35-year-old Hannah Choi, who was reported missing March 6.

Choi was last seen the day before, at her home in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County. At the time of the disappearance, police said she was “considered endangered due to mental and/or physical health concerns.”

And during a news conference Tuesday, police Chief Kevin Davis said they believe Merino killed Choi inside that home, and took her body to Piscataway Park in Prince George’s County, Maryland. A search for Choi’s remains is still underway there.

Police said that filing murder charges without a body is unusual, but Davis cited an “abundance” of both evidence and probable cause.

After friends alerted authorities to Choi’s disappearance, they searched Merino and Choi’s home, said police Maj. Ed O’Carroll.

“The house appeared generally to be an order except for bedding, which appeared to be missing from one of the bedrooms,” he said.

Detectives later found that Choi “may have had an argument” with Merino on the night of March 5.

“We know they were in the community that evening — together,” O’Carroll said. “Video surveillance supports that.”

A car that police believe Merino had used was found March 7 in D.C.

“Although Hannah was not found, we did discover evidence that suggest she was harmed prior to her disappearance,” he said.

“… We know something bad happened — really bad. And we have evidence and details that make us firmly believe without any doubt that she’s deceased.”

In addition to the second-degree murder charge, Merino has been charged with felony disposal of human remains.

Anyone with more information on the case is asked to call the Fairfax County police at 703-246 7800. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Fairfax County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-8477.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up