The affidavit and other charging documents were filed one day after D.C. police homicide detectives arrested Jamyra Gallmon, 21, of Southeast Washington, on a charge of first-degree felony murder while armed in connection with Messerschmitt’s murder.
Messerschmitt, 30, who worked for a prominent international law firm, was found dead at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10 in a room at the upscale Donovan Hotel on 14th Street, N.W., next to Thomas Circle suffering from multiple stab wounds. His wife, Kim Vuong, had reported him missing about 1 a.m. that day.
Superior Court Magistrate Judge Renee Raymond ruled in a court hearing on Thursday that probable cause evidence exists to move forward with the murder charge against Gallmon.
Raymond denied a request by Gallmon’s attorney that she be released on bond while awaiting trial, saying evidence presented by prosecutors shows the defendant would be a danger to the community.
The attorney, Matthew Davies, announced Gallmon was pleading not guilty to the charge and argued that she stabbed Messerschmitt in his hotel room in self-defense after he allegedly started fighting with her and tried to prevent her from leaving the room.
Although the arrest affidavit doesn’t say so directly, police sources said Gallmon told detectives at the time of her arrest that she posed as a man when she responded to Messerschmitt’s Craigslist ad on Feb. 9, with the intent to arrange a hookup so she could rob him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shana Fulton, the lead prosecutor in the case, disputed the credibility of Gallmon’s claim of self-defense, saying police evidence from Internet and email records shows Gallmon’s actions targeting Messerschmitt were “premeditated.”
In a development likely to heighten LGBT activists’ fears that the Messerschmitt case had the markings of a gay pickup murder, D.C. police have asked members of the public to contact them if they have been contacted by someone through an email address Gallmon used to respond to Messerschmitt’s Craigslist ad.
The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to know if there are any other victims of crimes out there connected through this email,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters at a City Council budget hearing on Thursday.
Organizations that monitor anti-LGBT violence have for years urged gay men to be cautious when seeking out dates or sexual trysts through online hookup sites or in gay meeting places like bars or outdoor cruising areas.
The Messerschmitt case is likely to be viewed as extraordinary because it may be the first known case of a woman targeting a man attempting to meet another man on a hookup site.
Even before an arrest was made, LGBT activists joined others in expressing sympathy for Vuong, who said during a news conference one week before Gallmon’s arrest that she and her husband had a loving and uplifting relationship and his death was a devastating blow to her and other members of his family.
She called on the public to carefully view a video released by police taken from the Donovan Hotel’s security cameras that captured a “person of interest” in the case. The video showed a shadowy figure lurking in the hotel’s lobby and climbing a staircase, with just part of their face showing through a hooded jacket.
Police have now said that person was Gallmon.
Friends and others who know Gallmon told media outlets since the time of her arrest that they viewed her as an upstanding young woman and athlete who was a member of the woman’s basketball team at the Forestville Military Academy High School in Maryland, where she graduated.
Melvin Key, chief executive officer of MVP Protective Services, a local security firm that provides security guards and other services to businesses, told the Washington Blade that Gallmon worked part-time for the firm for a few months last year.
“She was an exemplary employee. It doesn’t seem like the same person we knew,” Key said in referring to Gallmon’s arrest on a murder charge.
Key, who released a photo of Gallmon to the Blade, said she told him at the time she resigned from her job that she planned to move to the South to become a law enforcement officer.
Electronic detective work led to arrest
The arrest affidavit says an autopsy found that Messerschmitt had been stabbed at least seven times and suffered a four-inch deep wound that pierced his heart and two wounds that hit his liver. The autopsy also found he suffered numerous “incised wounds to his left hand and right pinky finger consistent with wounds suffered while defending himself,” the affidavit says.
It says blood was found spattered throughout the room as well as on the door handle of the door on the fourth floor of the Donovan Hotel that leads to the its stairwell.
A separate affidavit filed in court shortly after the murder seeking a warrant to search the hotel room, which became public at that time, said detectives found Messerschmitt lying on the floor with his wallet and several credit cards strewn near his body. Other items found, according to the search warrant affidavit, were one or more condoms, lubricant and an enema.
In a development that adds yet another element of mystery to the case, the most recent affidavit filed in court on Wednesday says detectives who arrived at the hotel room at the time Messerschmitt’s body was found discovered his fingers were bound by zip ties.
“Additionally, detectives observed that the decedent had small zip ties, red/orange, neon pink, and yellow in color, that were attached to each other and attached to his fingers,” the affidavit says. “The zip ties appeared to be affixed together into makeshift handcuffs.”
According to the affidavit, when detectives obtained a warrant and executed a search of Gallmon’s apartment on Wednesday they found, among other things, “a pack of small, multi-colored zip ties similar to the ones found on the fingers of the decedent.”
The apartment search also turned up a folding pocket knife with a silver blade and black handle.
The arrest affidavit made public on Wednesday reports that detectives determined that Messerschmitt’s cell phone, which he used for sending and receiving emails, was missing from the room along with cash.
It says detectives, through additional search warrants, were able to obtain email records from both Messerschmitt and Gallmon, enabling them to trace communication between the two initially through Craigslist and later through direct email and phone contract.
Among the information they obtained was the email address of email@example.com that Messerschmitt used to post a personal ad on Craigslist.
“Detectives observed that the decedent posted an advertisement on Craigslist using firstname.lastname@example.org on Feb. 9, the date of the homicide, soliciting responses from other men,” the affidavit says.
They next discovered that Messerschmitt began an “ongoing communication with an individual on Craigslist” that began about 1:58 p.m. on Feb. 9 and continued throughout the day until about 7:30 p.m. The username of the person with whom he was communicating was “chrissanchez0906,” which detectives later traced to Gallmon.
It was through this communication that Messerschmitt told his newfound acquaintance his location at the Donovan Hotel and arranged for the person to visit him there between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., the affidavit says.
Through a subpoena sent to Craigslist, the detectives obtained information that led them to a phone number that in turn led them to Gallmon’s contact information, including her address, which court records show as 2439 Good Hope Road, S.E., Apt. 1122.
Records obtained by the Blade from the Superior Court’s Landlord Tenant Branch show that the management company for Gallmon’s apartment building filed an eviction notice against her on March 24, saying she had failed to pay all of the rent she owned for month of February.
Court records show that the matter was resolved later and the case was closed.
The affidavit says Gallmon initially denied any role in Messerschmitt’s murder. It says that after her arrest on Wednesday, upon being read her Miranda rights, she declined to talk to detectives. But minutes later, the affidavit says, she changed her mind and waived her rights not to speak without an attorney.
“During the interview, the defendant admitted going to the hotel on the fourth floor with the intentions of robbing the decedent,” the affidavit says. “The defendant stated that once she reached the room, the door was open and she went inside. According to the defendant, the decedent did not know she was in the room until she turned to walk out of the room,” it says.
“At that time, the decedent got up off of the bed and attempted to stop the defendant from leaving,” the affidavit continues. “The defendant stated that the complainant grabbed her arm causing her to flashback to a memory of when she was assaulted. The defendant stated that the decedent started fighting with her and she pulled a knife that she had in her sweatpants and stabbed the victim,” says the affidavit.
Gallmon the told detectives that Messerschmitt “continued fighting,” prompting her to stab him “again and again” causing him to back away and fall to the floor.
“The defendant said that after the decedent fell to the floor she stabbed him again,” the affidavit says.
Fulton, in responding to Davies’ reference to Gallmon’s claim of self-defense, told Raymond at Wednesday’s court hearing that claim lacks credibility.
“That’s the defendant’s story,” she said.
Raymond scheduled a preliminary hearing for the case on April 10.