The family of a Washington D.C. woman is distraught today after their matriarch has been found murdered.
NBC Washington reports that the 71-year-old woman died after she was found injured inside her own D.C. home on Friday. Her family says the man charged with assaulting her threatened her two decades earlier and was released from prison early because of the pandemic.
Sylvia Matthews died after the attack in her home in the unit block of Elmira Street SW.
Michael Garrett, 66, of no fixed address, was arrested and initially charged with assault with intent to kill.
Around 7:30am on Friday Matthews neighbors called police after they heard noises coming from her residence. A home she has lived in for years. Police say when they arrived they found Matthews vehicle damaged and windows broken on the lower level of her home. It looked as if someone has attempted to gain entry to her home. Matthew left the home and returned around 11:30am after she thought it was safe again.
“She went into the house and he was in her house,” her relative said.
Police were called again, this time by someone who had been helping Matthews clean up broken glass from the early-morning break-in.
“He said he heard a scuffle and when he heard the scuffle, he called the police,” the relative said she was told.
Garrett was found inside Matthews’ home, near where Matthews lay unconscious.
He told police he had just gotten there and that he had come to check on the victim and found her there with injuries.
Matthews died of her injuries the next day.
Matthews family said that they did not know Garrett but knew of him. They believed that the pair had met decades ago when Matthews worked at the pharmacy of the Old Lorton Reformatory and Garrett was an inmate.
Court documents show that in 1999 Garrett broke into Matthews’ home in 1999 and chased her to a neighbor’s house.
He was arrested and jailed, and let out on compassionate release in March as COVID-19 spread through the inmate population.
Matthews' family say that they feel the judicial system has failed them and that this man, given the nature of his violent crimes, should never have been released.
D.C. police initially called the offense “domestic in nature.”
Police are working with the U.S. Attorney’s office to file additional charges against Garrett.