CHARLES COUNTY, Md. — UPDATE: During a news conference on March 28, police confirmed the body found in Piscataway Park on March 24 was that of Hannah Choi. Previous reporting follows.
March 28 News Conference | Body Confirmed to be Hannah Choi
Investigators believe they have found the body of a Virginia woman, who was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend, in a wooded area of Piscataway Park in Maryland.
According to a spokesperson from the Fairfax County Police Department, deputies from the Charles County Sheriff's Department were called to the park Thursday morning after a body was found in the woods. Detectives tentatively believe the body belongs to 35-year-old Hannah Choi.
Choi was last seen on March 5 at 7 a.m. at her home in the 5300 block of Jesmond Street in Alexandria, Virginia. She was reported missing by friends on March 6 after she missed several appointments and could not be reached.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Choi's ex-boyfriend, 27-year-old Joel Mosso Merino, for second-degree murder and felony disposal of a body. He has yet to be apprehended.
Officers previously searched more than 800 acres of the wooded area in Piscataway Park and had planned to return to the area when the body was found.
Detectives are working with the medical examiner to confirm the identity and manner of death. Officials will provide another update once a positive identification has been made.
Choi's younger sister Minna said she can't understand why Merino would potentially commit such a heinous crime, and not allow her family to have any closure.
"She tried so hard to help people and he must have known that. Just you know there’s no reason for any kind of violence like that and also why in the world did he have to dispose of her body and not let the family have a little closure," Minna Choi said in an interview with WUSA9. "I just ask that he would at least let us know where she is so we can put her to rest and have her be at peace.”
The Choi family started a GoFundMe named Justice for Hannah. More than $49,000 has been raised. Minna Choi said the money will go toward a reward to find Merino and to a domestic violence and sexual assault charity
In a press conference Tuesday, officers said Merino had not been seen since cameras captured him in the Atlanta area. Officials said that have not ruled out that he may have left the United States.