A Washington, D.C., criminal defense attorney who friends recalled as a “humble, generous” man has been found bound, gagged and strangled to death in his apartment in the Dominican Republic, police said over the weekend.
Police identified him as Van Teasley, 55, who friends say split time between his vacation home in the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo and a Capitol Hill neighborhood where he shared a home with his mother. Martindale-Hubbell, the legal directory, lists his office in Herndon, Va. Friends said he handled a lot of court-appointed cases.
Teasley arrived in the Dominican Republic either Thursday or Friday of last week. Friend Jeff Gordon King Stroud told police on Friday he hadn’t been able to reach his friend, and led authorities soon afterward to his apartment, nestled near an upscale neighborhood.
They found the door open, according to local news reports. “When the police agents arrived at the location, the apartment door was open and the lock hadn’t been forced open, so the person who entered didn’t encounter any type of resistance,” police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said.
It was sudden and violent end for a man friends said was a gentle, yet vivacious member of the Washington community. Teasley, who went to high school in Norfolk and attended Howard University, was widely known locally: He dressed with elan, once discussed hate crimes before the D.C. City Council, owned several local properties and advocated for gay rights. By Sunday night, his Facebook profile was filled with mourners posting messages.
That contrast between his full life and violent death has been difficult to reconcile, friends said. “He had just bought that [Santo Domingo] apartment not too long ago, and now some are saying he had his throat slit, though that hasn’t been verified yet,” close friend Dana Fonville told The Washington Post on Sunday. ” … He was just a flashy dresser. A lot of people loved him, and he was well-traveled, and a very sophisticated individual.”
The circumstances surrounding Teasley’s death, Fonville said, are difficult to understand. If it’s true his door was open — with no sign of forced entry — the killer may have known Teasley, who police said was strangled with a plastic clamp. “It’s very unlikely this was some random act by an intruder,” Fonville added. “There had to be more than one assailant. This was just a heinous crime and he must have been ambushed or let his guard down with a friend he met awhile back who may have made a plan against him.”
Friend Berniece Petersen told The Post Teasley fell in love with the Dominican Republic and bought a vacation home that he visited more than 10 times every year. “He was the most humble and kind and generous spirit you could ever meet,” she said. “This has impacted all of us. A lot of people are really feeling it right now and we’re just shocked.”