It was an emotional night for friends and co-workers of D.C. corrections official Carolyn Cross.
Loved ones gathered Friday evening wearing ribbons and clothes in her favorite color -- purple. They attended a candelight vigil for Cross, the deputy director of operations of the corrections department, who was found murdered in her Alexandria home Sunday.
But also tonight, questions arose about whether her killing is connected to the death of another Alexandria woman two months ago.
On July 4th, Asabech Abayneh was strangled in her home about a mile away.
No one is charged in the Abayneh case. But police have charged a man who lived in a nearby building, Dawit Seyoum, with first degree murder in Cross' case.
Police continue to investigate both cases, as the victims' friends and family mourn. Cross worked for the corrections department for 35 years, where she earned a reputation as a caring person and strong leader, who championed transgender rights.
"It's just such a loss -- Deputy Director Cross was my rock," said Tom Faust, director of D.C.'s department of corrections.
"She was such a wonderful person," said Earline Budd, whom Cross mentored. "That she died in such a tragic way -- it just hurts, it just hurts."
Cross’s daughter discovered the body after there was no answer at the door when she went to pick Cross up on Sunday morning. The Virginia medical examiner determined Cross, 64, died of head trauma, strangulation, and smothering.