Suspect who fled to Ethiopia after 2016 slayings in Virginia is arrested

Washington Post

A man who police say fled to his native Ethi­o­pia more than two years ago after the killing of a young couple in Northern Virginia has been arrested and charged in their deaths.

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.


Yohannes Nessibu was arrested and charged in the 2016 slayings in Fairfax County. (Fairfax County police)

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.


Henok Yohannes. (Family photo)

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is very sad story to read for me that such destructive way of life of gang culture with all its ills is slowly leeching into our Diaspora community. It may be a fringe group of miscreants now but will the environmental set up it is bound to take over the community just as it did to other Diaspora communities. What scares me even more is that it can migrate back to the old country where it will find millions upon millions of unemployed and already misguided youth. The foundation has already been laid down very well with the spread of addiction to chewing khat and khamr consumption.

    It is sad to see such priceless lives of three young people get wasted in a senseless act. Very heartless act indeed.

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