Police: Transgender Woman May Have Been Lured to Alley Before Her Murder - NBC4 Washington

Police: Transgender Woman May Have Been Lured to Alley Before Her Murder

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    Arrest Made in Murder of Transgender Woman

    Police were called to break up a fight in Montgomery Village, Maryland, minutes before a transgender woman was killed. More on the suspect from News4's Jackie Bensen. (Published Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015)

    Police are investigating the possibility that a transgender woman who was shot to death Thursday was lured to the alley where she was killed.

    News4 has learned that police were called to the same area about 30 minutes before Zella Ziona, 21, was killed Thursday. They were responding to the report of a group of people fighting, and one person being hit with a stick.

    Detectives believe the person who was hit was Ziona. Sources tell News4 the man now charged with her murder, Rico Hector Leblond, 20, from Germantown, was also involved in the fight and became enraged when Ziona gained the upper hand. It's not clear how officers resolved that incident.

    In charging documents, detectives said they think Ziona may have been lured to the alley after the initial fight. 

    Arrest Made in Murder of Transgender Woman

    [DC] Arrest Made in Murder of Transgender Woman
    The suspect in the murder of a transgender woman in Montgomery Village has a previous arrest record. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.
    (Published Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015)

    Police believe was Leblond jumped from behind a dumpster and began shooting, the charging documents say. Witnesses said he had a monster mask over the lower part of his face.

    The mask was later found near the scene. Witnesses say the shooter stood over Ziona and continued to fire even after she collapsed on the ground.

    Leblond is charged with first-degree murder. Detectives said Leblond was arrested Saturday at the Germantown Transit Center without incident.

    He's being held without bond until a review Monday afternoon.

    Friends of the victim said Ziona and Leblond knew each other. Leblond, who has a lengthy criminal history, was arrested for attempted murder two years ago, but the charges were later dropped.

    Ziona was also known as DeAndre Smith.