Man suspected of human trafficking linked to two dismembered women found in storage units

A tipster who had reported a missing woman in Minnesota before her body was discovered in a storage unit last week has revealed that he tried to help her with her drug addiction but was threatened by a man who is now considered a person of interest in the case. The person of interest, Joseph Jorgenson, has been charged with second-degree murder in the killing of another missing woman, whose dismembered remains were found in a separate storage unit. The tipster reached out to the Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force, expressing concerns that his friend, Fanta Xayavong, may have fallen victim to sex trafficking.

According to law enforcement documents, the tipster informed authorities that Xayavong had struggled with drug addiction and that he had attempted to get her into rehab before she disappeared approximately two years ago. The documents state that the tipster provided text messages as evidence of threats made by Jorgenson, describing him as “very abusing” towards Xayavong. The tipster contacted the authorities after learning about the discovery of another woman’s remains, Manijeh “Mani” Starren, who was also connected to Jorgenson.

Xayavong’s family confirmed that she was last seen in July 2021, and she was reported missing on May 25. Both Xayavong and Starren had been in relationships with Jorgenson, according to St. Paul police spokesman Mike Ernster. Search warrants were filed in Ramsey County District Court, seeking access to Jorgenson’s suburban apartment, as well as his email, Facebook, and Uber accounts. Xayavong’s body was found on July 6 in a storage unit in Coon Rapids, while Starren’s dismembered remains were discovered in a storage unit in Woodbury.

Starren’s father reported her missing on May 1, stating that she had struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues. He mentioned that she was supposed to have gone to a drug treatment center before her disappearance. The statement of probable cause in Starren’s case revealed that security footage captured Jorgenson pushing her into her St. Paul apartment on April 21. She was never seen leaving the apartment, but Jorgenson was later seen leaving with bags and a suitcase. Authorities found significant amounts of blood in the apartment, suggesting an attempt to clean up the scene.

Jorgenson was arrested on June 26 after allegedly starting a fire in his apartment when authorities attempted to take him into custody. During the arrest, he fought with officers and tried to disarm them. His bond has been set at $5 million, and his lawyer and relatives have not responded to requests for comment.