Jason Chen is the suspect in the disappearance of 22-year-old Tennessee woman Jasmine Pace, Chattanooga Police say. Pace was last seen on November 22, 2022, police said. She has not been found.
Chen, a 22-year-old college student, was arrested on November 29 and prosecutors plan to charge him with first-degree murder, Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp said at a press conference. He was taken into custody at his family’s home in Nolensville, Tennessee, in Williamson County, police said.
According to police, Chen and Pace had been in a relationship for a few months. Police said the exact details about when, where and how they met remained under investigation. Pace’s family and friends have led a social media campaign to bring attention to the case.
“These days are sometimes hard, but we’re here to be as transparent as possible,” Wamp said at a November 30 press conference. “On Sunday of this week, the Chattanooga Police Department transitioned the missing person investigation into a homicide investigation based on evidence that came to the police department’s attention. Since then, the Chattanooga Police Department has been working around the clock, literally day and night since Sunday mid-afternoon, to ascertain evidence and information that they can get to locate Jasmine Pace.”
Wamp said, “Our main concern is Jasmine. Our main concern is her location. Where she is, she is our priority. She will continue to be our priority from this day forward. Whatever information anybody in this community has on her whereabouts, please report that to the Chattanooga Police Department as we continue our search for Jasmine.”
Bailey Putman, a family friend who had been providing updates on Facebook, posted, “For everyone who has been praying and following along with the missing case of Jasmine Pace. We have received the heartbreaking news that is has now transferred to a murder case. Jason Chen is in custody at this time as the number one suspect. As all friends and family of Jazzy are grieving we ask for privacy to allow that.”
Putman added, “That being said this is going to be a long and hard process. We ask for the ENTIRE community to support the family and friends in getting justice of Jazzy . As the dates are released on the hearings and etc. we ask for ANYONE and EVERYONE to come and support Jasmine and her family. Any leads and tips that you might think might be helpful please contact the Chattanooga Police department at ANY time. Jasmine was an absolute light to anyone and everyone she knew and absolutely did not deserve this . We love her deeply and want justice for her.”
Here’s what you need to know about Jason Chen:
1. Jasmine Pace Was Last Seen at Jason Chen’s Chattanooga Apartment, Police Say
Wamp said at the press conference that during the investigation Jason Chen was identified as a possible suspect in the disappearance of Jasmine “Jazzy” Pace and “evidence located at Mr. Chen’s apartment” led to him being identified as a “legitimate suspect.”
Wamp added, “new evidence surfaced since then that allowed the Chattanooga Police Department to develop probable cause in the case of a homicide. Jason Chen was located at his home in Williamson County last night. He currently is in custody and charges have been taken out for criminal homicide in the county of Hamilton. The state of Tennessee is pursuing first-degree murder charges based on the evidence that we have at this time.” Wamp did not provide specifics about the evidence.
“The investigation is still very much ongoing,” Wamp said. “There is information that is sensitive still that we will not release. We need help from the public, still, because, again, our main concern is Jasmine and where she is at. We will not stop until we find her.”
Chattanooga Police homicide investigator Zackary Crawford said at the press conference that Pace was last seen at Chen’s apartment in the North Shore area of Chattanooga. Crawford said they have not been able to find any 911 calls to the apartment complex around the time Pace was last seen there.
“We have reviewed all records from that area at the time frame we believe this incident happened,” Crawford said. “I do not have any knowledge of a phone call being placed at that time.” Crawford said the Chattanooga apartment was Chen’s primary residence.
Crawford said a search warrant was executed at Chen’s apartment and evidence was taken from there. “Right now we’re following all leads and all evidence,” Crawford said. “At this time, we are still getting further evidence, to include records and technology that are still coming in. Our search is pretty broad right now.”
2. Pace’s Family & Friends Believe Her Last Facebook Post Was Made by Chen, Not by Her
According to Jasmine Pace’s Facebook page, she is originally from Ringgold, Georgia, and has also lived in East Ridge, Tennessee. She studied at Chattanooga State Community College. Her most recent public Facebook post, from Saturday November 26, 2022, shows a photo of Pace in lingerie and the caption reads, “Enjoying Thanksgiving with my baby!!” But her family and friends said she would not have posted a photo like that. The post was made after she disappeared and her friends said they believe it was posted by Chen using her phone.
Pace’s father, Travis Pace, wrote on Facebook that she was last seen Tuesday, November 22, at the Lofts at Tremont at 110 Tremont Street in Chattanooga. She was at Chen’s second-floor apartment, he said. “The last known person she was talking to or seen with was a UTC student under the name Jason Chen,” Travis PAce wrote. He said his daughter’s 2021 Chevrolet Equinox was found abandonded at the Signal View Apartments, about 10 minutes away from the Tremont complex.
Pace’s friend, Emma, posted a viral TikTok video that drew a lot of attention to her case. In the now-private video, Pace’s friend said, “Jasmine went to Jason’s apartment the night she was last seen. She texted her mom and her brother Tuesday night saying she was coming to see me for the week. This is very unlike Jasmine, as she would stay with her family for the holidays. At exactly 2:15 a.m. on Wednesday, neighbors reported a loud thud and a girl screaming from his apartment. And then at 2:18 a.m. she sent her mom her location. We do believe that was a cry for help.”
Emma, who said Pace had not actually come to stay with her, added, “Her parents were able to track her car and Wednesday morning her car was moved to Signal View condos. A neighbor found footage from his Ring camera of Jason leaving his apartment without Jasmine one minute before her car was moved Wednesday morning. … When her parent’s found her car they could see that the driver’s side seat was moved back further than it would be for someone who is only 5’2.”
Emma said when Chen’s apartment was searched they found, “Jasmine’s ID, her credit card and her pants in there. On his couch was found a Walmart bag of rubbing alcohol and paper towels right next to it. He then gets on Facebook and pretends that she is with me. These are two videos of me and her that were in mine and her saved Snapchat. I know this is not her that posted this because the picture that I’m covering up she would never post. At this point, I’m calling her, messaging her, begging her to call me, freaking out because I know something is wrong.”
She said, “I do believe it is Jason on her phone messaging her friends and family pretending to be her, saying, ‘I need time alone just give me a break,’ saying that she’ll call us later. I begged and begged and begged to just call me and let me hear her voice just for one second just so I knew that it was her.” She said Pace’s reply wasn’t what she would have said.
3. Jason Chen Is a Student at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
Chen graduated from Nolensville High School and was a student at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, according to his now-deleted Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Chen also had a Bumble dating profile that showed he was a student at UTC, according to screenshots shared by Pace’s friends.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Chen was a software developer intern and was studying software systems and finace at UTC. Police said Chen has hired an attorney, but his lawyer has not commented on his behalf and his family could not be reached for comment by Heavy.
Chen does not appear to have a prior criminal record in Tennessee, but it was not known if he has been arrested elsewhere. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga has not commented about his arrest and his current status as a student there.
4. Chen Pretended Photos of a High School Classmate Were Him on His Social Media & Dating Profiles, the Classmate Says
One of Chen’s high school classmates came forward to say that photos that Chen had posted on his social media pages were not actually him, but were stolen from the classmate’s Facebook page. Taylor Han said on TikTok at least two photos being shared on social media as being of Chen “are actually photos of me.”
In his TikTok video, Han said he had posted the photos on his VSCO and Instagram and Chen took them to use on his own social media profiles, pretending they were of him. Han said Chen used photos of Han on a Tinder dating profile. “I thought we didn’t look alike, but I guess if I cover-up half my face, I guess the eyes. But I think my eyes are more Asian. I did not know he was using my photos, nor would I allow that s*** cause that’s just weird.”
Han said in another TikTok video, “I’ve known him for the longest and he’s always been weird and fake.”
Pace’s friend Emma said in her TikTok video, “People that know of Jason have come forward and say that he has a history of stealing phones, stealing from jobs that he’s worked at, can’t hold a job, he has posted pretending to be other people. So I do have no doubt in my mind that he is the one doing this and the one on her social media accounts.”
5. Chen Hired a Lawyer & Declined to Answer Questions After He Was Arrested, Police Say
Chen obtained legal counsel after his arrest in Williamson County and did not answer any questions from investigators, police said. Authorities said Chen would be transported to Hamilton County to be held in custody there.
Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy said at the November 30 press conference, “Both offices have been working together diligently for the past couple of days and just in respect of the family who we have here, we want to make sure that we do everything, that there’s not one piece of evidence, no stone unturned in anyway to obstruct this from coming to resolution for this family. We are just pleading to anyone that has any information about her whereabouts, just please let us know. It’s very, very important that we find her.”
Wamp said, “The district attorney’s office often has the privilege of being the voice of victims. And I want to reassure the family and friends that are here today that Jasmine has a voice through the state of Tennsesse, through myself, as district attorney general, and we won’t stop until we see justice in this case.”