Suspect Arrested in Death of Man Found in Burning Trashcan in Northeast D.C.

Authorities say suspect and victim were friends

A 19-year-old suspect has been arrested in the death of a man whose body was found in a burning trashcan in Northeast D.C. last month.

Authorities say the suspect and the victim were friends.

Zakias Blanding of D.C. was arrested Wednesday morning in the death of 19-year-old Heineken McNeil, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced.

McNeil's body, burned beyond recognition, was found June 23 behind a vacant home in the 1200 block of Holbrook Terrace NE.

An autopsy revealed that the victim had sustained multiple gunshot wounds before the fire, Bowser said.

Firefighters discovered a body that they say was burned beyond recognition after a woman reported a fire behind a vacant home in Northeast D.C. News4’s Pat Collins reports.

Police initially thought the murder was the result of some bad blood between rival crews.

"Well, with this arrest today, we have now learned that this, in fact, was not a rivalry or a feud between rival neighborhoods in Northeast, but in fact, the suspect and the victim were friends," said Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier at Wednesday's press conference. 

Lanier did not comment on a suspected motive.

A neighbor told News4's Zachary Kiesch that when she took her trash out early on the morning of June 23, she saw a trashcan was on fire. Firefighters discovered McNeil's body in a large green trashcan after extinguishing the flames.

The abandoned property where his body was found had once been set to become luxury condominiums, but the project never came to fruition. The property has become a problem spot in the neighborhood, residents said. 

On Wednesday afternoon, Bowser said that authorities have secured vacant properties around the crime scene and have stepped up patrols in the area.

A body was found in a burning trashcan in northeast D.C. Tuesday morning.

Trinidad was once among the most violent neighborhoods in the city, but has improved in recent years, News4's Pat Collins reported. Some residents are worried this incident, paired with a nearby shooting the week before, is an indication of a return to more dangerous times.

"It's just going to show that the crime is not really stopping," said the woman who alerted authorities to the fire.

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