Arraignment date set for Virginia Beach man accused of murdering mother of his child on Valentine’s Day

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Ellie Mizon Tran, 35, died on Feb. 15, 2017 after her estranged-husband, Joseph Merlino, allegedly attacked her on Valentine's Day. (Courtesy of Facebook)
Ellie Mizon Tran, 35, died on Feb. 15, 2017 after her estranged-husband, Joseph Merlino, allegedly attacked her on Valentine’s Day. (Courtesy of Facebook)

VIRGINIA BEACH — An arraignment date for a 29-year-old Virginia Beach man accused of fatally attacking his ex-girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is scheduled for next week.

Joseph “Joey” Vincent Merlino III, of the 1200 block of Warner Hall Drive, was charged with second-degree murder on Thursday in connection with the death of 35-year-old Ellie Mizon Tran, according to a Virginia Beach Police Department news release. Tran is Merlino’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his 2-year-old daughter.

Police believe that Merlino and Tran were married, but Tran’s family say the two used to date and broke up in the spring of 2016.

His arraignment is scheduled in Virginia Beach Juvenile Domestic Relations Court on Feb. 21. He is scheduled to have a bond hearing the following day.

Tran dialed 911 around 8 p.m. on Tuesday to report she’d been attacked by an unknown suspect in her driveway, located in the 1000 block of Still Meadow Court.

Police believe Merlino “touched her in a manner that caused her to be ill,” said Virginia Beach Master Police Officer Tonya Pierce.

Tran was taken to a local hospital where she died on Wednesday evening. A friend has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for her funeral expenses.

Merlino is currently being held in the Virginia Beach Correctional Center without bond.

Mayfield can be reached at adrienne.m@southsidedaily.com.

The original version of this story called Tran Merlino’s estranged wife. Tran’s family  says the couple were never married.

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Adrienne Mayfield is an award-winning, multi-media journalist hailing from Clermont, Fla. She moved to Lynchburg, Va. on a whim when she was 19, and worked her way to Hampton Roads in 2013. Adrienne is passionate about telling people stories via covering public safety and the judicial system. She isn’t afraid to take a heads-on approach to covering crime, including knocking on doors to get the details police aren’t sharing. Adrienne is a 2014 Old Dominion University graduate who still lives within walking distance of the college. You may see her cruising around Downtown Norfolk on her bike, enjoying a sandwich from Grilled Cheese Bistro or playing fetch with her dog, Greta, at the Colonial Place dog park.