A missing 33-year-old woman's body has been found in a Coon Rapids storage unit, and St. Paul police said Friday the discovery is connected to a man charged last week in a separate murder.
Fanta Xayavong's remains were found Thursday, a week after Joseph Jorgenson was charged with the murder of Manijeh "Mani" Starren, 33, whose dismembered body was found in a different storage unit in Woodbury. Starren and Jorgenson had previously been in a relationship.
Family and friends last heard from Xayavong in July 2021. On May 25 of this year, a caller reported her disappearance to the human trafficking tip line of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), police Sgt. Mike Ernster said at a Friday news conference.
He said the caller was worried Xayavong was being trafficked and said she was in an abusive relationship with Jorgenson before her disappearance. Her last known residence was in Lakeville.
Investigators connected Jorgenson to a storage unit in the 9100 block of University Avenue NW. in Coon Rapids, where they found a person's remains Thursday. On Friday, they were confirmed to be Xayavong.
"It's nothing short of horrific," Ernster said.
Her death has been ruled a homicide. Jorgenson is considered a "person of interest" but is not considered a suspect at this point. No charges have been filed.
On Friday, investigators searched a home in Shoreview where Jorgenson was living until September 2022, but Ernster did not disclose findings.
The case remains under investigation. Police have not determined where or when Xayavong was killed, Ernster said. He confirmed that Xayavong had been in a relationship with Jorgenson but did not say when they first met.
Police are now trying to determine if there are additional missing people or deaths possibly connected to Jorgenson.
Ernster and Chief Axel Henry urged anyone who knows missing people who may have known Jorgenson to call the BCA tip line at 877-996-6222 or email email@example.com.
"We're looking for people with any information to call us," Ernster said. "If there is anything else out there, we want to know and try to make a difference for some other family that might be out there."
Jorgenson is not currently connected to other missing person's cases, Ernster said.
Jorgenson, 40, of Maplewood, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Starren, a St. Paul resident. On June 26, police arrested him after he reportedly barricaded himself in his apartment, started a fire inside and fought with police officers. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Starren's family members first reported her disappearance May 1. They said she was last heard from April 18.
Video cameras at Starren's apartment showed her on April 21 apparently running from Jorgenson before he caught up and pushed her back into the apartment. According to charges, he dismembered her body and carried the remains out in duffel bags.
A review of Jorgenson's phone pinged activity at a different storage unit in Woodbury. Starren's remains were found inside.
Henry offered his condolences to the victim's families at the news conference. He added that "cases like this are extremely rare, but they are reminders to all of us that monsters can be real."
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.