3 Women Whose Remains Were Found in DC Were Homicide Victims, Police Say

Police broke into a wall with pickaxes and a chainsaw after the dogs appeared to indicate something suspicious

What to Know

  • Construction crews unearthed the remains of an unidentified woman last month underneath a southeast D.C. apartment building.
  • The remains of two other unidentified women were found days later in a nearby shallow grave.
  • All three women were homicide victims, officials say.

The three women whose bodies were found near a Southeast D.C. apartment died in violent homicides, officials said in an update Friday afternoon. Two women were fatally shot. One suffered inflicted trauma.

None of the women has been identified, but DNA testing may lead to answers.

"We're very hopeful that DNA will lead us to an identity," D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said. 

Newsham said police have already examined some missing persons cases and contacted the family members to collect DNA for comparison. Those tests may take several months.

An FBI lab will test samples from the remains of the three women, who were all found near an apartment building on the 100 block of Wayne Place SE April 25 after construction crews uncovered an apparent human skull.

Newsham said they also found personal items of the victims.

"I can tell you we did recover some clothing, but we can't talk about specifics," he said.

If they think the public can identity the women by the belongings, they may release pictures later.

Police began investigating the crawl space underneath the house where the skull was found. Their search expanded when police dogs identified more locations of human remains.

The medical examiner's office announced the following Friday that the first remains are human.

On Saturday, police announced they had found two other sets of remains behind the apartment building. The medical examiner's office said the remains were comingled in the shallow grave.

Police brought in cadaver dogs in the days that followed. Searches continue in the area.

"Not all of the skeletal remains from those three bodies have been recovered," Newsham said. "There still are some pieces of the body that have not been located and may never be located."

The remains found were buried for at least one year, officials said. It appears they were all buried about the same time.

Clothing was found in at least one of the sites, police said.

Newsham said police have no idea if the three deaths are related, but said the two women whose remains were found together were more likely to be related.

Police also refused to say which victims sustained which injuries.

The case is officially under investigation as a homicide. The medical examiner is still working to identify an age, stature or ancestry of the victims.

There is a $25,000 reward per victim to information leading to a responsible person or people.

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