Man indicted for murder of D.C. corrections officer

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Man indicted for murder of D.C. corrections officer
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By Chris Teale (File photo)

A grand jury formally indicted Monday an Alexandria man on murder charges in connection with the death of D.C. Deputy Director of Corrections Carolyn Cross earlier this year.

Dawit Seyoum is accused of first-degree murder after Cross was found dead in her apartment on Kenmore Avenue on September 7. The 29-year-old lived in the same complex as the 64-year-old official, who was found by her daughter with a plastic bag duct-taped over her head.

Seyoum was arrested that same day and was held without bail until a preliminary hearing at Alexandria General District Court, where the case was referred to the grand jury.

At that hearing on December 1, the Washington Post reported that three police officers testified that Seyoum called 911 the afternoon after Cross was murdered and said he had attempted suicide, and that he confessed to her killing because he was angry at the world.

They arrived at his apartment to find Seyoum lying on the floor in the fetal position wearing just his underwear, with the words “I was the dirty one” scrawled in blood on the wall of his shower and cuts on his arms. He was then arrested and charged by police, with one officer testifying that Seyoum told him he might have committed a murder.

An autopsy on Cross found that she died of blunt-force trauma to the head, smothering and strangulation, with two detectives testifying that Seyoum described his crime to them in detail. They said he claimed to have followed her into her home carrying a ratchet wrench, which he hit her over the head with.

Detective Thomas Buckley testified that Seyoum had bought the wrench after stealing and selling his father’s guitar after an argument with his mother. Buckley added that Seyoum claimed to hear voices.

The murder came as a shock to Alexandria and the District, especially as it seemed like a random killing with no apparent connection between Seyoum and Cross. It was the fourth homicide in the city this year, and appears unrelated to Cross’ work in the D.C. Department of Corrections, where she held a number of positions.

Prosecuting the case will be Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter, while Seyoum will be represented by the Office of the Public Defender. His next court appearance is scheduled for December 18, when a trial date likely will be selected.

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