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Boyfriend arrested in Williamson County after woman reported missing in East TN

WJHL
WJHL
 2022-12-01

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A man taken into custody in Williamson County Tuesday is now facing criminal homicide charges following his girlfriend’s recent disappearance in Hamilton County.

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Jason Wen Chen (Source: Williamson County Sheriff’s Office)

Nolensville Police Chief Roddy Parker confirmed his agency arrested 22-year-old Jason Chen on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and took him to jail in Franklin after Hamilton County authorities reached out over the weekend about a missing woman.

Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office and the Chattanooga Police Department held a joint news conference about the arrest.

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According to Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp, the missing persons case for Jasmine Pace transitioned into a homicide investigation on Sunday, Nov. 27 based on evidence that came to the Chattanooga Police Department’s attention.

Since then, Chattanooga authorities have reportedly worked around the clock to gather information leading to Pace’s location, which Wamp described as a priority going forward.

Wamp said evidence was discovered at Chen’s apartment that led to police deeming him a legitimate suspect in the investigation. New evidence surfaced that allowed law enforcement to develop probable cause in the case of a homicide.

Chen was found at his home — described by authorities as his family residence — in Williamson County Tuesday night and taken into custody.

Wamp announced Hamilton County has taken out charges for criminal homicide against Chen while the state of Tennessee is pursuing first-degree murder charges. Meanwhile, Chen is set to be transported to Hamilton County by Thursday, Dec. 1 to face charges in court.

A detective at Wednesday’s news conference said Pace and Chen had a relationship for a few months, adding that Pace’s last known location was at Chen’s apartment — his primary residence — in the Northshore area of Chattanooga.

The Dade County Sheriff’s Office shared a flyer on social media that said 22-year-old Pace was last seen by her family on Nov. 22.

According to an affidavit from the General Sessions Court of Hamilton County, on Saturday, Nov. 26, police responded to a missing person report after Pace’s mother tracked the young woman’s vehicle — a 2021 Chevrolet Equinox — using an app to the 900 block of Mountain Creek Road in Chattanooga.

The court document stated that officers met Pace’s family on Sunday morning and learned that Pace shared her location via a text message pin drop at approximately 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 23, less than three hours after she left their home. Pace’s mother and her husband went to that location in the 100 block of Tremont Street, spoke with residents in the building and learned that Pace’s boyfriend, Chen, lived in one of the apartments.

When they entered, Pace’s mother reportedly found her daughter’s driver’s license and credit cards, but not Pace or Chen. She also tried to contact Pace numerous times, none of which were successful.

In addition, a neighbor told Pace’s mother they heard a loud disturbance around the same time Pace sent the message with her location, the affidavit said. Officers responded to the scene, but did not make contact with Pace or Chen.

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After investigators interviewed Pace’s family Sunday night, they executed a search warrant at Chen’s apartment, where they discovered blood transfer on the living room floor, bathroom grout and bedroom carpet; blood spatter on the bathroom wall; cleaning supplies on the living room couch; a reaction from the Bluestar forensic blood reagent indicating that a large amount of blood had been cleaned up on the floor in the living room, bathroom and bedroom area; and glass fragmentation on the floor in the living room area, according to the court document.

“Evidence on the scene showed a violent physical altercation occurred within the apartment,” the affidavit stated.

Then, on Monday, Nov. 28, detectives carried out the following actions, the court document said:

  • Detective Crawford recovered video footage from inside the apartment complex, which showed Chen walking out of the exit with his right hand inside his pocket shortly before 1 p.m. on Nov. 23. Then, just before 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, Chen was seen leaving through the door wearing a surgical mask and while a black fabric item was wrapped around his right hand.
  • Detectives interviewed several people living in the apartments, some of whom reported hearing a “loud disorder” and fight coming from Chen’s apartment while one witness said they heard “a loud continuous female scream” coming from the direction of the apartment, along with the sound of objects being thrown around.
  • Detective Cottrell found video footage at a Walgreens showing Chen buying two bottles of peroxide and bandages at 1:14 p.m., as well as footage of him buying rubbing alcohol, two more bottles of peroxide, and a six-pack of paper towels just after 7 p.m.
  • Detective Crawford accessed Pace’s MyChevy App, which showed her vehicle driving from the area around the 100 block of Tremont Street to the 900 block of Mountain Creek. Around the same time the app reported Pace’s car turning on and leaving the apartments, video footage showed Chen leaving the apartments. On top of that, cameras along the path Pace’s vehicle was seen traveling on the MyChevy App spotted her vehicle being driven by a person wearing the same style hoodie Chen was seen wearing.

When Chen was found at a home in the 1900 block of Ashburn Court in Nolensville on Tuesday, authorities said they carried out a search warrant on the residence and Chen himself, who had lacerations on his right hand and feet that were indicative of him being in a fight.

While Pace has yet to be found, the affidavit said “evidence shows the victim had been murdered during an altercation that occurred” inside Chen’s apartment, adding that the evidence also shows Pace had been “transported away from the crime scene location.”

According to officials, the investigation into Pace’s disappearance is still ongoing, so community members are urged to reach out to the Chattanooga Police Department if they have any information about her whereabouts.

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