The boyfriend of a still-missing young woman from Tennessee has been charged in connection with her disappearance and presumed murder.
According to a Facebook post by the Dade County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, 22-year-old Jasmine “Jazzy” Pace has been missing since late November. She was last seen alive on Nov. 22, 2022 by her family.
Catrina Pace last saw her daughter at 11:27 p.m. on Nov. 22, 2022, according to Chattanooga ABC affiliate WTVC, Her daughter’s vehicle, the grieving mother told the TV station, was found abandoned near a condo development off Mountain Creek Road the next night.
“Her plan had been to leave the Chattanooga (TN) area for a few days,” a missing persons graphic shared by the DCSO said. “Has not been heard from since and her vehicle was tracked to 900 Mountain Creek RD of Chattanooga. May have been with a male friend: Jason Chen.”
Chen has since been arrested and charged with one count of murder in the first degree, according to the Chattanooga Police Department.
“It came to our attention through the course of the investigation that a suspect was identified,” Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp said during a press conference on Wednesday. “There was evidence located at Mr. Chen’s apartment that led the Chattanooga Police Department to identify him as a legitimate suspect.”
Authorities allege “new evidence” later surfaced that allowed the CPD “to develop probable cause in the case of a homicide.”
Details are scarce and likely to remain so, the prosecutor said, citing “sensitive” information about the case, a very active search for the woman, and an investigation still in flux.
Police did offer some details, however, during a question-and-answer session with local media during the press conference.
A search warrant was obtained for the defendant’s residence and evidence was obtained there, a spokesperson for the CPD said.
A probable cause affidavit obtained by WTVC late Wednesday afternoon shines additional light on the case against Chen.
On the 23rd of November, Catrina Pace says her daughter shared her location with her using a pin drop via text messaging, police wrote in the document. Mrs. Pace and her husband then traveled to the apartment complex where the pin was located and discovered that Chen, their daughter’s boyfriend, lived in a unit there. After somehow gaining entry to Chen’s apartment, she found Pace’s driver’s license and multiple of her credit cards inside – but no sign of either Chen or her daughter, the woman’s mother told police.
According to that court document, police later found blood stains on the hardwood floor of the living room, on the bathroom grout, and in the bedroom carpet of the defendant’s apartment. Blood spatter, police allege, was found on the bathroom wall.
Additionally, the affidavit reportedly says, several newly-purchased cleaning supplies were found in Chen’s Northshore residence.
The affidavit also reportedly says a forensic team determined there had previously been more blood in the living room, the bathroom, and the bedroom that was cleaned up by the time police arrived.
Other potentially tell-tale evidence cited by law enforcement in that filing included the alleged presence of broken glass, which police wrote suggested a violent altercation inside the apartment.
The affidavit also says surveillance footage from the apartment complex shows Chen leaving the building with a mask on his face and black fabric wrapped around his hand. When he was arrested, officers said, the defendant had lacerations on his right hand.
“It appeared that they’ve had a relationship for a few months,” an investigator said during the press conference in response to a question about the nature of the relationship between the presumed-dead victim and the defendant.
While Jasmine Pace is still missing, her last known location was Chen’s apartment, police allege.
The defendant was originally detained in Williamson County and was transferred to Hamilton County on Wednesday afternoon. He has obtained an attorney since his arrest, authorities said, and is not currently speaking with police.
HAVE YOU SEEN HER? @ChattanoogaPD are looking for 22-year-old Jasmine Pace. Police say her car was found at The Signal View Apartments on Mountain Creek Rd. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since last Tuesday. @Local3News pic.twitter.com/ZFLkASc89z
— Liam Collins Local 3 (@LiamLocal3) November 28, 2022
“We will not stop until we find her,” Wamp said. “I want to reassure the family and friends that are here today that Jasmine has a voice through the State of Tennessee, through myself as District Attorney General, and we won’t stop until we see justice in this case.”
“Our main concern is Jasmine,” the DA added. “Her location, where she is. She is our priority. She will continue to be our priority this day forward.”
Search parties have been combing various areas and neighborhoods in Chattanooga looking for the woman her loved ones call “Jazzy.”
Law enforcement in the area have requested the public’s assistance with the case and search efforts and have so far received “hundreds” of tips and witness accounts, a CPD spokesperson said.
Jasmine Pace’s childhood friend, Bailey Putman, spoke with Chattanooga NBC affiliate WRCB just after she went missing.
“We want her home,” the worried friend told the TV station. “And we want her safe. That is so very unlike her. There’s not a day they don’t hear from Jasmine let alone an hour.”
In a post on Facebook, the victim’s mother reacted to the recent determination by law enforcement that her daughter had been killed.
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This morning I received the news that my daughter, Jasmine Pace’s, missing case has transferred to a homicide case. Jason Chen is now in custody as number one suspect. For everyone who has been following along and offered so much support and help on this case. The outpouring of true love and support from the community this past week has meant more than I can explain. I ask that our community and everyone that has been effected by this horrific event, everyone that has a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, can sympathize with what we are being forced to process. We will live with for the rest of our lives. Please continue to stand behind us. Anyone that knows anything no matter how insignificant it may seem, please please report it to Chattanooga PD. We will be updating all court dates etc in the future and ask that people come to show their support for Jazzy and demand Justice. The chattanooga police department still needs our help finding my daughter. Please don’t share information with anyone except the police department. Please don’t give his defense team anything to help him escape full justice.
[images: Pace via Dade County Sheriff’s Office; Chen via Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office]
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