Mississippi officials unsure when homicide suspect may have extradition hearing; accused was victim’s neighbor

Rontarus Washington Jr.

Law enforcement officials in Washington County, Miss., where 18-year-old Rontarus Washington Jr. was located and arrested Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of a 19-year-old Lawrence woman, said Friday that they do not know when an extradition hearing may take place.

Washington, who lived two doors down from the apartment where Justina Altamirano Mosso was found dead Nov. 9, left Lawrence for his hometown of Greenville, Miss., sometime after the crime occurred, Lawrence Police Department spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said.

Altamirano Mosso was located after a family member reported her missing Nov. 9, Douglas County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Cheryl Wright Kunard said. The district attorney’s office accuses Washington of killing Altamirano Mosso Nov. 7.

McKinley has described the death as “violent” based on evidence at the scene.

The Journal-World interviewed Washington and his girlfriend inside their apartment days after the slaying while investigating a story about Cedarwood residents’ perceived lack of safety. During the interview, Washington’s girlfriend told the Journal-World, “I’m not scared because if (the person who killed Altamirano Mosso) comes in here, I’ve got a bat.”

Neighbors told the Journal-World that they had seen Washington in Lawrence as recently as two weeks ago. Lawrence detectives, U.S. Marshals and the Greenville Police Department collaborated Monday in Mississippi “after developing leads” that Washington was in the area.