Teen friend, father linked to torched car murder

Boris Mejia

Boris Mejia

TUCKER -- An 18-year-old Tucker man and his father have been tied to the murder of a Stone Mountain teen whom friends called an ambitious soul and talented dancer with a bright future awaiting her.

One week after police found Andrea Nassos' body in the trunk of her Honda Accord, left to burn overnight in the back parking lot of a Tucker park, police said they believe her friend, Boris Mejia, 18, killed her at her Tucker apartment.

Mejia then tried to bury the body at an Old Norcross Road home in Tucker he shares with his father, Ignacio Mejia, 51, police said. The elder Mejia instructed his son "to dispose of the deceased body," according to an arrest warrant. So Boris Mejia picked Lucky Shoals Park in southern Gwinnett, and after destroying the Honda, his father drove him to Houston in an attempt to avoid prosecution, police said.

Detectives first visited the Mejia home on Wednesday, speaking with several family members, including the teen's father.

Information from family, in addition to that gathered by Houston police upon Mejia's capture, leads police to believe Nassos was slain at her apartment on Lavista Road in DeKalb County. The venue for murder prosecution has thus switched from Gwinnett to DeKalb.

Gwinnett police Cpl. Jake Smith said Boris Mejia has no criminal history and, as far as police know, was simply friends with the victim and familiar with her circle of pals. Why he allegedly killed her is under investigation.

"There's speculation, but we're not really saying anything about motive right now," Smith said, noting that police have their lone murder suspect. "As far as we're concerned, it's case closed."

Boris Mejia is charged in Gwinnett with arson and tampering with evidence, along with murder in DeKalb. His father is being held in Gwinnett on charges of hindering the apprehension of a criminal and tampering with evidence.

Houston Police Department spokesman John Cannon said Boris Mejia was arrested at 1:15 p.m. Thursday without incident. How police were tipped off to his whereabouts and when he'll be extradited was unclear Friday, Cannon said.

Following Mejia's capture, Gwinnett Medical Examiner Dr. Carol Terry shed some light on the cause of death, saying Nassos suffered blunt-force trauma to the head, but it's possible she could have also been asphyxiated. An autopsy ruled out gunshot or stab wounds.

"Nassos was dead prior to the fire," Terry wrote in an email to the Daily Post.

In a preliminary police report, the Gwinnett police officer who found Nassos' car during an area check at Lucky Shoals Park, JT Cleland, wrote that firefighters pried open the trunk about 5 a.m. and immediately spotted a human skull.

"The body appeared to have been face down in the trunk and the skull was facing the rear of the vehicle," the report reads.

The family buried Nassos on Wednesday in Charleston, S.C., home to her grandparents. Her father, Pete Nassos, has told media his daughter was an innocent victim.

Nassos' family told reporters she graduated from Faith Academy two weeks ago with aspirations of becoming a pharmacist, after attending Tucker High School for three years. She was last heard from Thursday, when she called her mother from Dave and Busters in Duluth, family told media members.

A manager at Kohl's at Northlake Mall in Atlanta said Nassos worked there until the day she died. "This was a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go out to family and friends," said Vicki Shamion, a Kohl's spokeswoman.

On her MySpace page, Nassos described herself as "an awesome ... Greek" who loved "learning new things" and "being out of the house." Friends have issued an outpouring of condolences and prayers on various social media. An online condolences page bore high praise for the teen without vitriol for her killer.

Along with her kind disposition, Nassos was known for fleet feet.

Sandy Papadopoulos was Nassos' dance instructor throughout her childhood at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Atlanta. He remembered her passion not only for dance, but for the Greek heritage, culture and customs surrounding it.

"Her ability to dance shined every time she was performing," Papadopoulos said. "Andrea was truly a talent, and she will be missed."