Fairfax County police allege that Yohannes Nessibu left the Washington region after killing Henok Yohannes and Kedest Simeneh, both 22 and from Fairfax, on Dec. 22, 2016.
Authorities have long said they were confident that Nessibu committed the slayings. A Fairfax County grand jury indicted him in March 2017 on murder and weapons charges in the killings, but the case had been stalled because Ethiopia bars the extradition of its citizens.
On Monday, officials said Nessibu, 24, was brought back to the United States and transported to Fairfax police headquarters. Police said he had been taken into custody by Ethiopian authorities in February and was detained before a 14-hour flight Friday to Dulles International Airport.
“After two years and nearly six months, justice day has arrived,” Fairfax police Maj. Ed O’Carroll said at a news conference.
Nessibu traveled to Ethiopia shortly after the bodies were found, officials said. O’Carroll said detectives were quick to connect the man to the killings, but by the time they linked him to the case, he had left the country.
County prosecutor Raymond F. Morrogh described the extradition as a “cumbersome and complex process” that involved several agencies, including the State and Justice departments and the FBI.
On Monday, Yohannes’s father declined to comment on Nessibu’s arrest. Attempts to reach Simeneh’s family were unsuccessful.
At the time of her death, Simeneh was working in health care and had attended Northern Virginia Community College, according to her family.
Yohannes, her boyfriend, had been a soccer star at West Springfield High School and earned a sports scholarship to the University of Mary Washington in 2012. He left to attend Northern Virginia Community College, also taking jobs with a moving company and at a restaurant, while having aspirations of opening his own business, his family said after his death.
On the night she was killed, Simeneh left her home with acquaintances and went to Yohannes’s home about two miles away on Blarney Stone Court in the Springfield area, relatives and police said. Some people stayed in the car, while others went inside the house.
According to Fairfax police records, Yohannes had a history of dealing drugs, particularly marijuana. Some family members said detectives had told them that a meeting was set up so Nessibu could buy drugs from Yohannes.
But something went wrong.
Yohannes was shot in the neck and head inside the home, police said. The next day, Simeneh was found fatally shot in the backyard of a home about two miles away on Cordwood Court in Burke.
Detectives had told Simeneh’s family that Nessibu paid about $3,000 in cash for a one-way plane ticket from Dulles to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The plane departed the same day Simeneh’s body was found.
The crimes shocked the community, authorities said Monday in announcing that Nessibu had been charged with two counts of homicide and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Officials didn’t provide a motive in the case, other than to say Nessibu knew the victims.
Morrogh said Nessibu’s extradition involved a “long series of negotiations and legal wranglings.” He said his office extended “heartfelt sympathies” to the victims’ loved ones and thanked them for their patience.
“I am confident justice will be served,” he said.
Justin Jouvenal and Justin Wm. Moyer contributed to this report.