ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The body of a Minnesota woman who had been missing for two years was found in a storage unit, and St. Paul police said Friday that her death has been linked to a man who was charged after another woman’s dismembered body was found in a different storage unit in another Minneapolis suburb.
Joseph Jorgenson hasn’t yet been charged in Fanta Xayavong’s death, but the 40-year-old was charged last week with second-degree murder in the death of Manijeh “Mani” Starren, 33, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Xayavong’s body was found Thursday in a Coon Rapids storage unit, while Starren’s body was found last month in a storage unit in Woodbury.
St. Paul police Sgt. Mike Ernster said Jorgenson is a “person of interest” in the 33-year-old Xayavong’s death after investigators connected him to the Coon Rapids storage unit. Police are now trying to determine if Jorgenson could be linked to any other missing people.
“It’s nothing short of horrific,” Ernster said.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension received a tip in May that Xayavong had been in an abusive relationship with Jorgenson before her disappearance in July 2021. Police have said that Starren and Jorgenson had also been in a relationship before her death.
Police have not determined where or when Xayavong was killed, Ernster said. Investigators searched a home Friday that Jorgenson used to live in until last September.
Jorgenson’s attorney didn’t return a call from the newspaper Friday.
Police Chief Axel Henry said at a Friday news conference that “cases like this are extremely rare, but they are reminders to all of us that monsters can be real.”
Starren was reported missing May 1. Investigators found her body after Jorgenson barricaded himself in his apartment and started a fire when police tried to search the apartment on June 26. He was arrested after he fought with officers. A review of his cell phone activity led police to the storage unit in Woodbury, where Starren’s body was found.
According to court documents, prosecutors believe Jorgenson dismembered Starren’s body and carried her remains out of the apartment in Maplewood in duffel bags and a small suitcase.
Video from the apartment building showed Starren running from Jorgenson on April 21 before he caught her and pushed her back inside. She wasn’t seen leaving the apartment again.