The North Carolina artist found bound and stabbed to death inside a row house in northeast Washington last week may have been tortured for access to her ATM card, according to court documents.
El Hadji Alpha Madiou Toure, 28, of no fixed address, was arrested Monday night and has been charged with first-degree murder while armed and theft one in connection with Corrina Mehiel's death.
It doesn't appear Mehiel and Toure knew one another, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Tuesday.
The doctor who performed the autopsy found defensive wounds on the palm of Mehiel’s left hand and puncture wounds to her neck, suggesting torture, according to court documents.
Police have pictures of Toure using Mehiel’s ATM card at several locations around the area, court documents said. Her card was used seven times to withdrawal a total of $4,000 in the days before and after her death, beginning March 20 -- the afternoon before her body was found -- and continuing until about 1 a.m. Friday.
Surveillance video also shows Toure walking in Mehiel’s block the morning of her murder and driving away in her 2004 Toyota Prius, according to court documents.
Police received a tip Monday morning that Toure was sitting in a Ford Taurus in the 1700 block of Hamlin Street NE. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation in Bradley County, Tennessee, Newsham said.
A search of the Taurus found paperwork showing Toure bought the vehicle Friday, making a $1,000 payment.
Newsham said Toure may have been staying in local homeless shelters.
Mehiel, 34, was found unconscious and suffering from several stab wounds to the neck and torso in a basement apartment in the 600 block of 14th Street NE, near the busy H Street corridor, about 4:30 p.m. March 21. She was pronounced dead after midnight March 22, one day before her birthday.
Police found no signs of forced entry in the apartment where her body was found.
Mehiel was an artist and art teacher who was working at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. She was last seen at the school March 19. She talked with her father by phone that night, too, her stepmother said.
Her boyfriend told investigators he last had contact with her at 1:24 a.m. March 21, police said.
Mehiel, who originally was from Burnsville, North Carolina, was living in D.C. temporarily. She specialized in art that engaged communities and was working with the artist Mel Chin.
"She was full of life, full of plans," Mehiel's stepmother, Lari Mehiel, said last week by phone.
She sobbed as she spoke about the artist's murder.
"I think some heinous, hate-filled, evil person killed her. I don't know why. Why would he kill her?" she said.
Toure served one year of an eight-year sentence in Tennessee after pleading guilty to two robbery charges in 2006 before he was put on probation, according to the Bradley County Sheriff Office. He has an outstanding violation of probation warrant.