Twenty-four people were slain in the District in the first 60 days of the year, a dozen more than were killed during the same time in 2013.

The first to die was Claudia Hall, 51, of Northeast Washington, who was found dead Jan. 3 about 2:20 p.m. inside her home in the 300 block of 18th Pl. NE.

Officers who responded to a call for an unconscious person found her inside a building with obvious trauma to her body. She showed no signs of life, according to a police report. The next day, homicide detectives arrested her estranged husband, Alphonso Cleveland, 52, of Northeast, and charged him with second degree murder while armed in the case.

The victims also included two brothers, Jason E. Bryant, 26, and Khalid J. Bryant, 34, who were fatally shot in a barrage of gunfire Feb. 28 in front of a Northeast Washington church. Both died at the scene, police said. They were among six people who died within 36 hours.

The killings also included two double-homicides of a man and a woman: the Jan. 30 slaying of Ronnetta Hurley-Brown, 21, and Ervin P. Ingraham, 21, whose bodies were found inside a home in the 1600 block of 17th St. SE; and the Jan. 20 killings of Keyonna Proctor, 24, and Oluremi Thomas, 36, inside a row house on Girard St. NW, near Howard University.

Two children found at the scene of the Hurley-Brown/Ingraham slaying were not injured, authorities said.

The victims included five women and 18 men. Sixteen were listed as Black; seven were listed as race “unknown.” Eleven were under 25 and six were over 40.

Arrests were made in seven of the cases.

The youngest to die was Jonathon Malik Adams, 17, who was stabbed several times in the head, neck and back Feb. 27 in the hallway of an apartment building in the 4300 block of Halley Terrace SE, allegedly after he donned a mask and went to the apartment to tease a man who lived there. Abdul Muwwakil, 24, has been charged with second degree murder while armed in the slaying. Witnesses told authorities Muwwakil suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The oldest victim was 88, Leroi Elliott, who was killed about 6:30 a.m. Jan. 19—a Sunday—in his home in the 3300 block of Q Street NW in Georgetown. Elliott’s wife, who was also attacked, was hospitalized. The couple’s son, Bradford Nelson Elliott, 56, who was arrested on the scene after his mother called 911, suffered a heart attack later that day while at the hospital being treated for cuts.

While still hospitalized on Jan. 20, he suffered a second heart attack and died.
In an appearance before the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety Feb. 28, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier blamed the uptick in slayings on domestic violence.

Though Lanier seemed to shrug off the increase, some police officials are concerned with the trend.

“If we keep up at this pace, we’ll have more killings in 2014 than last year and 2013 had significantly more than 2012,” said one police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We need to get a handle on it so that we can try to turn this around, not dismiss it.”

One-hundred four homicides were reported in the District last year, up from the 88 killings in 2013.

The killings in January and February were as varied as the victims. Authorities believe Cleveland stabbed his wife to death after they argued over a cable bill. She had allegedly kicked him out a week before her death because he had not paid bills he had promised to pay, according to statements witnesses made to police.

Cleveland was found face down at 21st and Virginia Ave. NW and taken to George Washington Hospital for treatment of hypothermia before authorities connected him with the slaying. According to court records, he told authorities he had visited his wife on New Year’s Eve and they had had a good time. They later got into an argument that led to a physical altercation and he stabbed her in the lower stomach, the records show.

A witness told authorities that Adams donned a mask before he headed to Muwwakil’s apartment to “get him” despite the fact that he might have suffered from mental illness. A family member of Muwwakil’s said he answered a knock at the door of their apartment and walked out, only to return a few minutes later with bloody hands and a cell phone that the family member had not seen before.

The last victim for the 60 days was Billy Harris, 51, was shot about 3 a.m. March 1 in the 4800 block of Ninth Street NW, authorities said.

Zachary Lester

AFRO Staff Writer