Woman Found Dead in Crystal City Hotel Lobby After Falling From Upper Floor; Son Arrested

The woman fell from an upper floor and into an area of the lobby where people dine, police said

A man was charged with the murder of his mother after she was found dead in the lobby of a Crystal City hotel Tuesday, police say.

Zelalem Abedje, 63, was found dead about 1:30 a.m. inside the Embassy Suites at 1300 Richmond Highway in Arlington, Virginia, police said. She fell from an upper floor and into an area of the lobby where people dine, police said. 

The victim's son, 27-year-old Tebebe Makonnen, is the suspect in the case, Commonwealth's Attorney's office said. He has been charged with murder in his mother's death.

"The circumstances preceding the fall remain under investigation," Arlington County Police said in a release. Police believe the suspect and his mother were living at the Embassy Suites where the crime had happened.

Makonnen appeared in Arlington County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court on Wednesday morning. A preliminary hearing has been set for Sept. 18. He is being held without bond.

In May 2018, Makonnen was arrested and charged with sexual battery for allegedly sexually assaulting a doctor at a mental health facility at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, police records show. Makonnen ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. The judge waived jail time but ordered Makonnen to undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment.

Months before the May 2018 incident, police have confirmed, Makonnen was shown in a YouTube video saying that he didn't understand why he was being treated for mental illnesses because he doesn't believe he had them. In the video, he also talked about feeling violent.

Police said the criminal investigation is ongoing and a medical examiner will determine Abedje's cause of death.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Detective R. Munizza at 703-228-4171 or email

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