The investigation into the disappearance of Manijeh Starren is now being treated as a homicide. This development comes after her remains were discovered inside a storage unit. Joseph Jorgenson, 40, has been charged with second-degree intentional murder in connection to the death of Starren. The charges state that her remains were found nearly two months after she was reported missing.
According to court records, Starren was reported missing on May 1st after her family had not heard from her since mid-April. Police investigators found a cracked TV, broken microwave, and blood evidence in various rooms of Starren’s apartment. Family members noted that the messy state of the apartment was out of character for Starren, who was known to be a “neat freak.” A person close to Starren told investigators that she had mentioned an incident involving Jorgenson wrapping a rope around her neck. Surveillance footage captured the last moments Starren was seen alive, with Jorgenson allegedly chasing her back into the apartment.
In the days following Starren’s disappearance, Jorgenson was observed multiple times coming and going from the apartment. Surveillance video showed him leaving the apartment with bags on April 28th, which he loaded into a pickup truck. Investigators discovered that Jorgenson had searched online for information on missing person reports and how to clear cookies from an Android phone. Cell phone data also placed him at a storage unit in Woodbury.
On June 26th, SWAT teams executed a search warrant at Jorgenson’s apartment, where he barricaded himself in the bedroom and started a fire. Two officers were injured during the incident. Forensic analysis of Jorgenson’s apartment revealed blood in the closet he set on fire.
On June 28th, investigators executed a search warrant at the storage unit in Woodbury and found multiple containers, including a bag that Jorgenson was seen carrying from Starren’s apartment. Starren’s remains were discovered wrapped in plastic inside different containers. The medical examiner determined her death to be a homicide, although the cause of death has not yet been determined.
Joseph Jorgenson has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Manijeh Starren. St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry expressed the department’s commitment to bringing those who cause harm to justice. Jorgenson made his first court appearance, and his bail has been set at $5 million.
The police are also expressing concern for the safety of another woman, Fanta Xayavong, who was last seen with Jorgenson in July 2021. The investigation is ongoing, and Jorgenson has not been charged in relation to the disappearance of Fanta Xayavong.
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