The man found stabbed to death Tuesday in a hotel on Thomas Circle in downtown Washington has been identified as a 30-year-old lawyer who lived on Capitol Hill and worked for an international law firm, according to law enforcement authorities and a company representative.
David Messerschmitt, who lived in an apartment building in the 400 block of East Capitol Street NE, was pronounced dead in a fourth-floor room at the Donovan, a boutique hotel with a rooftop lounge in the 1100 block of 14th Street NW.
Police said they were called to the hotel about 11 a.m. Tuesday and found the victim dead, having suffered multiple stab wounds. Police have released few details, including information on a motive.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told reporters Wednesday that Messerschmitt had been reported missing by relatives 24 hours before he was found dead. Later, police released a photo and video of someone they described as a person of interest; the images were recorded inside the hotel about 7:45 p.m. Monday, the night before the body was found. The photo and video show a person in a hooded black jacket walking near a hotel baggage cart. Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Police continued to process evidence from Messerschmitt’s room Wednesday afternoon, nearly 30 hours after the body was discovered in a room facing 14th Street. Guests have been allowed into their rooms.
Messerschmitt worked in the Washington office of DLA Piper, a law firm with 4,200 lawyers throughout the United States and in 30 other countries. A spokesman in the New York office, Josh Epstein, said Messerschmitt was an associate. His biography for the firm describes him as an intellectual-property attorney who negotiated commercial and technology agreements.
“This is an extremely tragic situation and we send our sincere condolences to David’s family,” Epstein said in a written statement. “We are cooperating with the police as they continue their investigation.”
Epstein declined to let co-workers discuss Messerschmitt, citing a request made by his family, which appears to be from the Cincinnati area, that all communication go through a representative.
That representative, Gary C. Meltz, said the victim’s family is “deeply saddened and shocked by the loss of David.” His statement notes a wife and a brother but does not offer more details. Meltz said no relatives wished to speak publicly about Messerschmitt; he declined to provide their names. A woman believed to be Messerchmitt’s wife, reached by phone Wednesday, said she did not wish to speak.
An Internet wedding-gift registry dated July 2012 notes plans for a Cincinnati wedding and a honeymoon in Greece, which the couple described as their dream vacation. “We know that this trip will not only celebrate the start of our new life together, but will create life-long memories as well,” the couple wrote.
The stabbing was the District’s 11th homicide of the year. There were 15 slayings at this time last year. Homicides downtown are infrequent; a man was fatally shot last March in a car outside a nightclub on L Street near the Farragut North Metro station, and another man was stabbed to death while exiting a club in Dupont Circle eight months later, in November.
Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.