D.C. police late Friday identified a transgender woman found suffering from a fatal stab wound at a bus stop in Northeast Washington Thursday night as 23-year-old Deoni Jones, whose birth name was identified as JaParker Jones.
Homicide Branch Lt. Robert Adler, who is leading the investigation into Jones’ death, said police have also released a video of a man considered a suspect in the murder. He said the video can be viewed on YouTube.
“We’re hoping someone from the public will recognize the person in the video and tell us who it is,” Adler told the Blade in an interview at the Homicide Branch headquarters in Southwest D.C.
Adler said Jones’ family members told investigators that Jones also had been known by the first name Logan.
Police issued a statement early Friday afternoon saying a citizen flagged down a Metro transit police officer about 8:15 p.m. Thursday to report an assault at a bus stop on the 4900 block of East Capitol Street, N.E.
“Upon arrival, the officer located a transgender female who was unconscious and unresponsive suffering from a stab wound,” the statement says. “Units from the Sixth District and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel responded to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital and was admitted in critical condition,” the statement says.
“On Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at 2:35 a.m., the victim was pronounced dead. The decedent has not been identified at this time,” the initial statement said.
The video released by police later in the day shows a man walking across a street wearing a dark jacket and light colored pants. His face is not clearly visible in the video.
Adler said investigators have obtained a description of the suspect from “a variety of different sources.”
“The person we are looking for at this time is a black male, 30 to 40 years old, five-feet-nine to six-feet tall, medium build, medium complexion with a beard,” Adler said. “At the time of the incident the person was wearing a black jacket with a grey hooded sweatshirt underneath it and a pair of what we believe is jeans.”
Asked whether evidence exists to indicate the killing was a hate crime, Adler said “At this time we are still investigating if it is or is not a hate crime. And as the investigation proceeds we should probably get a better idea of whether that was a factor in the assault.”
The D.C. Trans Coalition issued a statement Friday saying it had learned through its own sources that a third person was at the bus stop when the stabbing took place and chased after the attacker. The statement says the attacker escaped when the witness realized that Jones was in need of immediate medical attention.
The statement says the group learned that Jones had been stabbed in the cheek and was taken by ambulance to Prince George’s County Hospital.
Earline Budd, an official with the transgender services and advocacy group Transgender Health Empowerment, said Friday morning that investigators planned to bring one or more photos of the victim to the THC office with the hope that someone there could identify the victim.
But Adler said homicide investigators identified Jones through fingerprints. He declined to say whether Jones’ finger prints had been on file in police and court records from a prior arrest.
D.C. Superior Court records show that a defendant on record as JaParker Jones had been arrested three times in D.C. between 2008 and 2011. The records show Jones had been charged in 2008 and 2011 with misdemeanor simple assault. In the 2008 case, prosecutors dropped the charge. In the 2011 case, a judge dismissed the case after determining prosecutors failed to prepare for the case at the time of trial.
In the third case, filed in 2010, court records show that Jones had been charged with second-degree theft and possession of a controlled substance, both misdemeanors. The records show Jones pleaded guilty to the second-degree theft change and the government dropped the possession of controlled substance charge as part of a plea bargain.
A judge sentenced Jones to a 150-day suspended jail term and ordered her to enroll in a drug treatment program and to undergo drug testing as well as counseling during a one-year period of probation, court records show.
Captain Edward Delgado, director of the department’s Special Liaison Unit, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, told LGBT activists in an email Thursday night that the stabbing occurred after some type of altercation took place between Jones and the suspect.
“Apparently there was a fight with the knife involved,” Delgado said in his email. “An adult female (transgendered) was stabbed at least once to the head by a black male wearing heavy dark coat with grey striped hat.”
A separate statement released by the Metropolitan Police Department’s public information office says police offer a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in D.C.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 202-272-9099. Anonymous information can be submitted to the department’s “TEXT TIP LINE” by text messaging 50411, the police statement says.
Two transgender women were murdered in the city in separate incidents in 2011. Both cases remain unsolved.