ALEXANDRIA, Va. - FOX 5 has confirmed that a 17-year-old boy identified by police as a person of interest in the death investigation of Fairfax County teenager Jholie Moussa may be released from jail with GPS monitoring.
According to sources, the person of interest is Moussa's ex-boyfriend. Authorities have not identified him because he is a juvenile.
The person of interest has been in custody since Jan. 18 after being arrested for a felony assault against Moussa that was previously unreported. The alleged incident happened before Moussa went missing on Jan. 12. Detectives said the unreported assault was uncovered during the course of their investigation into Moussa's disappearance.
At a court hearing held on Wednesday for the assault charge, a judge ordered the person of interest to be released while being monitored by a GPS. His next scheduled court date is set for April 2. It is unclear when he will be released.
Moussa’s body was discovered at Woodlawn Park in Alexandria on Jan. 26, nearly two weeks after the 16-year-old girl was reported missing by her family. Her body was covered in leaves and debris, police say. The teenager's death is being investigated as a homicide.
The cause of death has not yet been released by the medical examiner’s office.
The 17-year-old person of interest has not been charged in connection with Moussa's death.
Criminal defense attorney David Benowitz of Price Benowitz LLP talked to FOX 5 about what may have led to the judge's decision on Wednesday and what this means for the prosecution.
"They have not charged them, they have not officially accused them, they have not completed an investigation and there is the burden of proof that is carried by the government and the presumption of innocence, Benowitz said. "There is really no way that a judge is going to hold that person in jail."
He added, "If this young man has already been released, I would think that the prosecutor and law enforcement agents working on the case are trying to come up with evidence to solve this crime, and then if it comes to pass that this person is a suspect and/or is charged, then they would be seeking to take him back into custody."
A source has confirmed to FOX 5 that one of the last calls to Moussa’s cellphone came from an area near the park where she was found dead. However, the GPS of the cellphone was not accurate enough to tell if the call came exactly from the park.
Moussa's family had previously said an unknown man borrowed a 12-year-old boy’s phone to make a call to Moussa's phone on the day she went missing. It remains unclear if that man is a suspect in this case.
Investigators originally had Moussa listed as a runaway, saying at first there was no evidence indicating the 16-year-old girl was in danger. However, her mother insisted her daughter did not run away.
Moussa's mother told FOX 5 her daughter left home at about 4:15 p.m. on Jan. 12 and she told her twin sister she was going to a party in Norfolk. Police said they looked into that tip, but it did not pan out.
Back on Jan. 18, detectives said they had spoken with about 20 people who had recent contact with Moussa. However, police said many of those 20 people who were friends with Moussa were not fully cooperating with investigators.
Moussa was a 10th grade student at Mount Vernon High School.