Authorities say they have identified a 17-year-old young man as a person of interest in the death of 16-year-old Jholie Moussa.
According to NBC News, a Tuesday press release from the Fairfax County, Va., Police Department noted that the teen, who remains unidentified because of his age, “was arrested on Jan. 18 for a previous felony assault against Jholie.” Detectives reportedly learned about the previously unreported incident while conducting interviews during the search for the 16-year-old.
The young man is facing charges of felony assault in connection with the earlier incident but has not been charged in connection with Jholie’s death.
Jholie’s mom, Syreeta Steward-Hill, told NBC Washington that the young man was Jholie’s ex-boyfriend, against whom Jholie had a no-contact order.
The police have declined to comment on the nature of the young man’s relationship with Jholie, or whether she did have a protective order against him.
Jholie’s mom said that she had always feared for her daughter.
“I knew she was like a predator’s dream because she was just so little and dainty and kind and sweet and timid,” she said. “I was so afraid.”
Jholie went missing after leaving home Jan. 12 and telling her identical twin sister, Zhane, that she was going to a party in Norfolk, 200 miles away.
That evening, Steward-Hill missed a call from Jholie. She never heard from her again. Jholie was reported missing the next day. The family accused authorities of not treating Jholie’s case with urgency, saying that her disappearance was treated as a “runaway” case.
On Jan. 26, Jholie’s body was found less than a mile from her home.
Steward-Hill says she knew that her daughter did not run away and now is not only trying to find out what happened to Jholie but is also working to support other families whose children go missing.
“In addition to being Zhane’s mother and Jholie’s mother, I’m now going to strive to be a voice for so many families that—a child will walk out the door and never come home, and they’re just labeled as runaways, and they’re dismissed. And that’s not OK,” she said.