Shortly after noon on July 6, Rolando Yela, 30, of 7721 Eastern Ave. NW, died of head injuries a week after he plunged from a 10-foot wall at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW.
Police thought initially that the death was accidental. But investigators changed their minds although information was hard to come by in the largely Latino neighborhood where they were working the case.
So they approached the Rev. Sean O'Malley, a Catholic priest, and asked him to make an appeal a week after Yela's death at one of his regular masses at a Catholic center on California Street NW.
With police Officer Leo Them, who speaks both English and Spanish standing by, Father O'Malley explained the case to his congregation.
The congregation, consisting mostly of Guatemalans, was asked to put aside its fears and assist the police in their search for Yela's killer.
Yesterday, police arrested Ovalli Jose Marcelino Yax, 30, of 3120 18th St. NW and charged him with homicide in Yela's death. Police say that it was an arrest they could not have made without the help of members of the usually police-shy Latino community.
It was also one of several examples of neighborhood-police cooperation that led to the closing of six homicide cases within three days this week, Sanchez.
Prudden's team decided to approach Father O'Malley for help. As a result of the priest's appeal, the detectives said, they were able to locate a witness whose information led to yesterday's arrest.
Police said one of the other four cases involved Carl Kelly, 37, of Silver Spring, who was charged three days ago with homicide in connection with the shooting of Vincent Gibson, 23, of 776 Hobart Place NW. Kelly surrendered to authorities when police persuaded witnesses to come forward.
In unrelated incidents yesterday:
Steven Richard Williams, 29, of 1285 Oates St. NE, was charged with homicide in the fatal shooting of Russell Vest, 23, of 1271 Meigs Place NE.
Lloyd P. Jeter, 19, of 2456 Ontario Rd. NW, was charged with homicide in connection with the fatal stabbing of Antonio J. Alameda, 51, at the latter's home at 1845 Summit Place NW.
Carvin Solomon, 30, of 1209 Horizon Place SW, was charged with homicide in the shooting of James William Edmunds, 28, of 1223 12th St. NW.
Albert C. Jones Jr., 29, of 3060 Stanton Rd. SE, was arrested on a Northwest street corner and charged with homicide in the July 14 shooting death of Robert T. Foster, 23, of 3219 15th Place SE.