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.”