Man Charged With Murder In Death of Co-Worker

By Ernesto LondoƱo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 4, 2006

A 20-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing a 35-year-old female co-worker at a J.C. Penney store in Gaithersburg was charged yesterday with first-degree murder, Montgomery County police said.

Josue Ray Dupree stabbed Ana Elisa Mejia Avila about 3:15 p.m. Thursday on the loading dock of the department store at Lakeforest Mall, where they worked, police said.

Mejia, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had three children and was looking forward to being reunited with her husband, who is in the Dominican Republic waiting for his green card application to be approved.

"She was an exemplary mother, and her whole world was her kids," her brothers said in a statement issued by a family friend. "She loved life to the fullest. Everything she did, she did for her children."

Mejia's daughters are 14 and 10, and her son is 2.

Dupree and Mejia had argued at work that day, police said, but authorities did not disclose a motive for the attack.

Dupree ran through the store after stabbing Mejia on the loading dock, police said. After leaving the store, he was injured when he was struck by a pickup on Lost Knife Road, officers said.

"He may have stepped in front of the car intentionally," police spokeswoman Melanie Hadley said.

Dupree got up and continued running but was arrested in the 9500 block of Horizon Run Road. He was released from a hospital yesterday and was taken to jail about 1 p.m.

Dupree was being held without bond at the Montgomery jail last night. He does not appear to have a criminal history in Maryland.

Efforts to contact relatives were unsuccessful.

Mejia lived with one of her two brothers in Germantown. She had been employed at J.C. Penney for more than a year and was known as a hard worker.

Relatives were making plans yesterday to send her body to the Dominican Republic, where her mother lives.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company