The killing of two women in their home in Northwest Washington last week is not connected to the slayings of two other women, D.C. police officials said yesterday.
Fourth District Lt. Alvin Brown said there is no evidence linking the deaths of Dorothy Redd, 65, and Harold Ann East, 53, with those of Clara Carter, 84, and Ruby Currie Davis, 72. Redd and East were found Friday in the row house they shared in the 600 block of Hamilton Street NW. Redd had been strangled, and East had been shot and possibly sexually assaulted, police said.
Carter, who lived about a mile away in the 1200 block of Shepherd Street NW, was found strangled in an upstairs bedroom. Davis, of the 2400 block of Ontario Road NW, was stabbed.
"There has not been anything in our investigation to connect the Hamilton Street homicide to any other recent homicides," said Brown, who oversees the homicide detectives handling the Hamilton Street slayings.
Police have issued a warrant for Terry Leon Boyd, 22, in connection with the slaying of East. Boyd, who received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Army in July, is charged with first-degree murder. Police sources said yesterday that DNA samples tie Boyd to East's death.
Redd considered Boyd her grandson, though police sources and neighbors said they were not related. Boyd came to live with Redd when he was 14.
The case has been controversial from the beginning. An officer and a detective who arrived on the scene initially believed that Redd had died of natural causes and did not search the house, according to neighbor Monica Gant, who was at the home while police were there. The detective called Redd's doctor to ask about any illnesses or prescribed medication. Redd had colon cancer, Gant said.
It was only after family members walked through the house and smelled a foul odor that East's body was discovered in the basement. By that time, police had left. When they arrived the second time, what was then a crime scene had been compromised.
Brown said that officers and detectives are required to check bedrooms, bathrooms and other "living space" when a death is believed to be of natural causes. He declined to say whether that was done.
"I'm not going to comment on the investigation or how the investigation was conducted," Brown said yesterday. "I will review everything that happened."
Brown said it is the medical examiner's responsibility to determine the cause of death.
D.C. Medical Examiner Jonathan L. Arden said yesterday that his investigators should have gone to the scene, which could have avoided the mix-up.
On Friday, his office accepted the police assessment, based on the interview with Redd's doctor, that the death was from natural causes.
Since his arrival in the District 17 months ago, Arden has made it his goal to dispatch investigators to "100 percent of all deaths" as part of his larger reform of the medical examiner's office. Arden said the policy is a work in progress.
"I'm not going to point fingers, but admittedly it wasn't handled the best way," Arden said. "It's one of those tough cases. I feel bad . . . we didn't go there."
To minimize mistakes, forensic scientists should be sent to the scene of every death, even if they appear natural, medical experts said.
"It's best if a good investigator, a non-police type person, has the best role to conclude the cause," said John R. Teggatz, of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, an expert on death investigations. "Police and the medical examiner have to work together in every death to get medical history and inspect the scene. But working together is key. A medical examiner should be there."