City Paper is not for tourists
Here’s an Anacostia yarn ripped straight from the Wire.
I got an email a few days ago from ANC 8A Commissioner Anthony Muhammad. It was a notice for the upcoming ANC meeting, which Muhammad chose to advertise with an ominous headline: “Is A Serial Killer In Our Neighborhood?” Zing! Yes you have my attention commissioner.
I gave Muhammad a call. He told me he had reason to believe a serial killer was on the loose east of the river. For evidence, he pointed to the murder of a young woman whose body was discovered near Wilkinson Elementary late last year. Muhammad said police had never released her name, but that he’d heard from another ANC commissioner, Jackie Ward, who’d heard from Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes, that the person responsible for the killing was suspected in the murders of three other women in the area.
I was skeptical and asked Muhammad if he thought the killing might be drug-related or have some other motive. He was offended and snapped back witha good one. “It may be Wall Street related,” he said, “you know day-trading.” What with the development of a new ballpark and rising land prices, he says, the killer may be thinking “let’s kill people so we can get cheap land.”
Okay. You got me.
Still skeptical, I didn’t discount Muhammad’s theory. He gave me a number for Commissioner Ward but the woman who answered the phone hung up on me, several times. I called Assistant Chief Groomes, with whom I’m still playing phone tag. I also called the seventh police district commander Joel Maupin, who said he knew nothing of a serial killer. The woman found behind Wilkinson, he said, was in fact identified as 21-year-old Charmaine Owens. This information was reported soon after her body was discovered. Although the case is still unsolved, the motive may have been sexual, since the girl was found with no clothes on.
I decided to go to the meeting to see if Muhammad could offer any actual evidence. To a packed audience at a community center on Good Hope Road, he gave the same speech he’d given me and still didn’t know the names or any other details of the four female victims of the mysterious killer. He said he had gotten a lot of calls from police following his email — and one from me — and that seems to have been his goal. Muhammad’s main concern doesn’t seem to be crime so much as the lack of attention crime gets in Anacostia. “Here you get no information,” he said.
As one of my editors said when I pitched this story, that’s a quote we’re all used to hearing from folks in Anacsotia. If Commissioner Muhammad wants to get some real attention, he might have to make like McNulty, and find some actual bodies. Or at least learn their names.