June 24, 2013 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Suspect in custody in D.C. trans stabbing
Gay News, Washington Blade, Bree Wallace, transgender

Bree Wallace (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado.)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier broke the department’s silence over whether a suspect had been arrested for allegedly stabbing a transgender woman as much as 40 times early Friday morning, saying a suspect was in custody on “other charges” presumably in an unrelated case.

Lanier’s confirmation that the suspect was in custody came in the form of an email to LGBT activists on Sunday night.

It was the latest in a flurry of emails between activists and police officials over the police investigation into the stabbing of trans woman Bree Wallace, 29, in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

Wallace was being treated at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. D.C. police and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service rescue workers found her lying in the street about 1 a.m. Friday, June 21, outside the apartment building where she lives.

A police report says Wallace told investigators a man she knew from the neighborhood met her at the abandoned house, where she intended to buy a cigarette from him, when he suddenly began stabbing her for unknown reasons.

She ran from her attacker and managed to reach her apartment building on the 2400 block of 15th Place, S.E., before collapsing, the police report says. Neighbors who saw her immediately called police, according to the report.

Questions over whether an arrest had been made surfaced early Saturday when Wallace told transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado, who knew Wallace prior to the attack, that police told her father that the suspect had been arrested.

Wallace told the Blade in a phone interview on Sunday from her hospital bed of her father’s report that police said the suspect implicated in her stabbing had been arrested.

Budd and Corado told the Blade that police declined to confirm that the attacker had been charged in the stabbing when they reached out to police officials by email and phone calls over the weekend.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade in an email on Saturday that the incident was under investigation, but she didn’t respond to the Blade’s question asking whether an arrest had been made.

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham hinted at a reason the police were withholding information about an arrest in his own email to LGBT activists shortly before Lanier sent out her email on Sunday night.

“It is my understanding that the suspect is in jail on another charge,” Newsham told Budd in his email. “We don’t need the public’s assistance in this case. We believe we will be able to charge the suspect before release,” he said. “We will provide the suspect’s name once an arrest is made [in the stabbing case].”

Although he didn’t say so directly, Newsham appeared to be suggesting that the suspect was arrested on an unrelated charge sometime between the time he allegedly stabbed Wallace about 1 a.m. on Friday and the time police told Wallace’s father on Saturday morning that the suspect was in custody.

It could not immediately be determined why Newsham, Lanier and other police officials were reluctant to disclose the suspect’s name and the nature of the offense, unrelated to the alleged stabbing, that resulted in his arrest.

Corado said she visited Wallace in the hospital on Saturday. She said she is heartbroken over the pain and anguish that Wallace and other transgender women have suffered over what appears to be an endless series of violent attacks during the past several years in D.C.

“She is a good girl,” said Corado. “She always talks about thanking God she is not on drugs. She looked at me. She held my hand. I’m so tired of this happening so many times.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

2 Comments
  • **It could not immediately be determined why Newsham, Lanier and other police officials were reluctant to disclose the suspect’s name and the nature of the offense, unrelated to the alleged stabbing, that resulted in his arrest.**
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Too often, probably on orders from a hyper-secretive MPD-HQ, MPD MIS-informs perfectly legitimate, interested parties to a case– telling such parties what they think they want to hear.

    I’ve experienced that kind of MPD prevarication (even outright lying)– just this spring, in fact.

    It is suspicious that MPD-PIU Director Gwendolyn Crump did not bother to confirm or deny the Blade’s reports of an arrest being made in this case through Sunday.

    Maybe somebody ‘fibbed’ at MPD, and the official story needs to be brought into some form of credible congruence. Whatever, it appears contemptuous of DC LGBT residents’ right-to-know.

    MPD was also investigating serial stabbings of women in Petworth and Bloomingdale going back to early May, according to Tuesday’s WaPo.

    Why wasn’t MPD-GLLU permitted to alert/ warn the trans and larger LGBT communities, however minimally, to this brutal, violent assault– especially given the serial stabbing assaults already under investigation.

    They aren’t just potted plants at GLLU. Providing crime information relevant to significant segments of the LGBT community is part and parcel of GLLU’s mission– one would hope, anyway.

    MPD’s chiefs (and all at HQ) need to loosen their leash on GLLU so it can provide LGBT residents basic information regarding violent LGBT-related crimes.

    Mayor Gray should inquire as to why MPD-HQ is not permitting GLLU minimal leeway to keep the trans community and our larger LGBT community of concerned residents better informed of LGBT-related violent crime.

  • So are we Ruby. And to think this is repeatedly happening in our nation's capitol..

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