A Level 3 sex offender accused of killing a 25-year-old woman whose remains were found on a Swampscott beach earlier this year has been arrested in Virginia, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office said Tuesday.
Jason J. Fleury, 37, was arrested in Hampton, Va., and is being held there pending his return to Massachusetts where he will appear in Essex Superior Court in Salem to face a first-degree murder charge, prosecutors said.
Fleury allegedly killed Jaimee Mendez whose skeletal remains were found on King’s Beach in Swampscott on Jan. 28. Mendez was last seen on Nov. 6, 2014, prosecutors said. Mendez’s family and authorities searched for her without success, until her remains were found entangled in lobster traps.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Mendez’s mother, Michelle Murray Mendez, said she welcomed the arrest of Fleury, whom she has long held responsible for her daughter’s death. Murray Mendez said that she would be willing to have Fleury face less prison time in return for disclosing in detail how her daughter died.
“Him sitting in jail watching flat-screen TV is not going to be justice for me,’’ she said. “I want to know what he did to my daughter. I want to know everything. . . . The worst part is not knowing.’’
Murray Mendez also said she believes it was no accident of nature that her daughter’s remains were found on King’s Beach. She said she grew up in Lynn and was a frequent visitor to the beach as a child. As an adult, she brought her children to the beach, something her daughter then did with her own child, a son who is now 6 years old.
“She wasn’t found, she decided to come up” from the Atlantic Ocean where the lobster traps were once used, Murray Mendez said. “I was going crazy not knowing where she was. Her return was something she did for me, to calm me.’’
Murray Mendez said her daughter’s autistic son is nonverbal and lives with his father.
“He can’t voice it, so all I can do is show him her picture and tell him his mother loves him and is watching over him,’’ Murray Mendez said. “He was attached to her like nobody else.’’
Fleury was indicted last week by the Essex County grand jury, but the charge was kept secret until Fleury could be taken into custody, according to prosecutors.
“This has been a long and painstaking investigation, with a single goal: justice for Jaimee Mendez,” Blodgett said in a statement.
Fleury was convicted in Virginia in 1997 of rape of a minor and was living in Massachusetts at the time of Mendez’s death. He was quickly identified as a potential suspect by Mendez’s family. He insisted in media interviews last fall that he had nothing to do with her disappearance, but did admit he was with her on the day she disappeared.
At some point after being publicly linked to Mendez’s disappearance, Fleury moved back to Virginia where he registered as a sex offender with authorities in that state.
According to prosecutors, Fleury is scheduled to appear in a district court in Hampton as a fugitive from justice this week. He could be ordered to return to Massachusetts or decide to fight extradition, which would delay his return for a significant period of time.