District police are investigating the possibility that the man who fatally stabbed Clarine Collier-Wilson on an Adams-Morgan sidewalk in front of her two children may have been a panhandler who attacked her after she refused to give him money, a police captain said last night.
At a community meeting at All Souls Church, Capt. Karl Turner said police are checking to see whether the killer was a homeless man who had eaten at a mobile soup kitchen in the area before the attack.
Police have released a composite picture of the man, but they have not identified anyone as a suspect.
But adding questions to the theory that the attacker may have been a panhandler is the fact that Collier-Wilson's purse, which contained money, was not stolen. A source familiar with the investigation said police also are examining the possibility that Collier-Wilson was known to her attacker. It is not likely that the man would have attacked her for the money and left it if he were a panhandler, the source said.
Police are trying to determine whether there is any connection between the attack on Collier-Wilson and the robbery of two sisters four days earlier a block away.
The two women were robbed about 11 p.m. on Nov. 23 in the 1700 block of Lanier Place by a knife-wielding, bearded man wearing a dark blue baseball hat with white letters, a description similar to that of the suspect in Collier-Wilson's death. "He told the women, 'Give me your money or I'll kill you,' " a police source said.
More than 100 people attended last night's community meeting, where Turner and D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1) fielded questions and sometimes hostile comments from Adams-Morgan residents, many of whom live near where Collier-Wilson was slain about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday as she returned home from work with her two young children.
Collier-Wilson, a secretary, was stabbed in the chest as she held her 3-year-old daughter, Pareece, in her arms.
"Everybody is in shock," said Antonio Montes, a member of the Columbia Heights Advisory Neighborhood Commission. "Something is obviously snapping in our society for this to happen."
Residents attending the meeting criticized the city for what they called a lack of parking and slow police response to their complaints about crime in the area.
"I was mugged on 20th Street just below Calvert and your rookie policeman didn't even run after the guy and he didn't try to find my purse," Aviva Kempner said. "Quite frankly, as a woman, as soon as it gets dark I am terrified."
Residents complained that they are forced to park illegally because there are not enough parking spaces in the neighborhood. They said that sometimes forces them to walk through dark alleys to get home.