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D.C. police identify slain woman linked to accused serial killer

Sonya Champ’s death in 2021 has been ruled a homicide

(Peter Hermann/The Washington Post)

A woman who was found dead in a shopping cart near Union Station last year and has been linked to a man police in Virginia have labeled a serial killer was the victim of a homicide, D.C. police said for the first time Tuesday.

Authorities publicly identified the victim as Sonya Champ, 40, of Northeast Washington. Her body was found Sept. 7, 2021, in the 200 block of F Street NE, near Stanton Park.

A spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said authorities have not been able to determine how Champ was killed. She declined to comment on how the death was ruled a homicide without such a finding. Police have said there were no obvious signs of trauma on her body.

In January, authorities in Fairfax County, Va., linked Champ’s death to a D.C. man they dubbed the “Shopping Cart Killer,” though she was not officially identified at the time, and her death had not formally been ruled a homicide. Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman, said Tuesday that that man in custody in Virginia is a suspect in Champ’s death, though no charges have been filed in connection with her case.

Anthony Robinson, 35, has been charged with murder and concealing bodies in the slaying of two women — Allene Elizabeth Redmon, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Tonita Lorice Smith, 39, of Charlottesville — in the Harrisonburg area last year.

Fairfax County police have also asserted that Robinson is connected to the killings of two other women whose bodies were found in a trash can along the Route 1 corridor in December. But no charges have been filed in those killings — of Cheyenne Brown, 29, of the District, and Stephanie Harrison, 48, of Redding, Calif.

Police said they believe shopping carts were used to take the bodies of the women to locations where they were dumped.

A spokesman for Fairfax County police said in January that Robinson “may have been one of the last to see” Champ alive. Police said Champ’s body was found draped in a blanket and detectives had “digital evidence” putting Robinson near Champ when she disappeared. Police said they believe she had been living in a tent outside the train station.

Efforts to reach Champ’s relatives were not successful Tuesday.

Robinson is scheduled for a Sept. 12 court hearing in the Harrisonburg area in the cases involving Redmon and Smith.