A few months later on, D.C. law enforcement stated the homeowner’s brother, who lived in the basement, led them to a gruesome scene in a tangle of bamboo in the secluded yard: a black trash bag with a purple drawstring, stuffed with the stays of a dismembered body.
The discovery roiled the Brookland community, even in advance of the complete horror of what transpired was created community.
On Feb. 3, law enforcement disclosed another person experienced learned decomposed human stays in the home’s garden, but they known as the scenario just a “death investigation” and said almost nothing of the bag or the dismemberment. Neighbors watched with growing nervousness as murder detectives, forensic industry experts, clinical examiners, cadaver puppies and an urban forestry group scoured the garden. Crisis cars clogged the streets. The grey Jeep with the damaged window was towed absent.
“Does any individual have any far more intel/updates on what was found and wherever?” a resident requested in a private community Facebook group. Yet another weighed in: “yea, this is a brace by yourself 1. i’ve never ever observed this sort of a law enforcement existence in our local community in the previous 10 years since this started unfolding.”
For virtually two weeks, authorities reported nothing at all. Then, on Feb. 15, law enforcement claimed in courtroom paperwork that the person who lived in the household and had previously professed to discovering the stays — 32-calendar year-old Lavaughn Barnes — available detectives a various tale. He experienced killed Arias-Lopez, a 59-yr-aged immigrant from Guatemala who worked as a local handyman, and still left some of his continues to be in his yard.
“I did it,” police said Barnes informed them, according to an arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court.
He was charged with second-diploma murder. At a court docket listening to, Barnes’s lawyer, Anthony Matthews of the D.C. General public Defender Assistance, questioned the dependability of his client’s statements to police and argued that authorities lacked possible result in to make an arrest. Matthews did not react to an job interview ask for Barnes’s future courtroom listening to is March 29.
Initiatives to reach the lady who owns the Kearny Road dwelling — who is a person of Barnes’s sisters — have been not thriving. She has not been charged with any crime and is not alleged to have performed just about anything mistaken.
With the arrest, neighbors’ worst fears were understood, most likely surpassed. Within the trash bag, law enforcement stated in courtroom documents, investigators observed a man’s torso — missing a head and arms, which they believe that experienced been hacked off, thrown in the trash and hauled away to a landfill. Only the “mummified” remains of a skeleton remained, police explained.
For no cause other than the delusional ideas of his assailant, authorities explained in courtroom documents, it appeared Arias-Lopez had been killed and dismembered with an ax in the basement and backyard of the dwelling he had appear to paint on Nov. 4.
‘Strong-handed and powerful-minded’
By mid-November, Louis Johnson was increasing concerned.
The 1998 Jeep he owned, which he reported he utilized jointly with Arias-Lopez, was missing. He understood his pal of 15 decades had taken the automobile to a job earlier that thirty day period, but he and the automobile had not returned.
Johnson, 69, who lives in Maryland and does handyman operate element-time, explained in an job interview with The Washington Article that he went to a police station in D.C. to file a missing-person report and met with two detectives. He mentioned they took his information and facts but informed him they could not consider a formal report because only kinfolk or roommates could declare a person lacking. A law enforcement spokesman stated that is not D.C. police’s policy and could not find a record of Johnson’s conference with law enforcement.
Johnson mentioned he was able to file a lacking-individual report with Montgomery County police. But a spokeswoman for the agency, Shiera Goff, claimed detectives did not have enough details to examine.
“The complainant mentioned he experienced not heard from his mate for two weeks, but was not in a position to supply law enforcement with a date of start, house deal with or other personal facts,” Goff mentioned in an e mail. “He also did not know if he had relatives living in the location.”
She said an officer ran the man’s title through a national law enforcement databases, Goff said, “with negative final results.”
Authorities have not conclusively determined Arias-Lopez as the sufferer, even though they named him in courtroom documents. Those data say Barnes recognized Arias-Lopez as the person he killed. The D.C. health-related examiner has not ruled how the gentleman died, but police said they are dealing with the loss of life as a homicide. A D.C. police spokesman claimed detectives are in get in touch with with Arias-Lopez’s family and are doing the job with them and the medical examiner to positively determine the continues to be.
Arias-Lopez’s family appears to be from Santa María Ixhuatán, around Guatemala’s Pacific coastline, according to a 2018 obituary recognize for Arias-Lopez’s father. Some kinfolk live or have lived in Lexington, Neb., a city of about 10,000 people on Interstate 80, about 220 miles west of Omaha. A relative arrived at in Lexington explained the relatives did not want to be interviewed.
Particulars of Arias-Lopez’s existence have been hard to ascertain. There are number of general public data with his title. Johnson claimed Arias-Lopez advised him his father had after run a trucking corporation in Guatemala. People who realized him explained he experienced two passions — operate and religion.
Police said in courtroom data that Arias-Lopez experienced labored for a existing and previous residents on Kearny Street. Lots of men and women in the community declined interview requests. Police stated that Barnes explained to them he tossed some of the victim’s individual objects into the bag with the head and arms that he threw away.
Johnson said he very first satisfied Arias-Lopez about 15 many years ago at a cultural celebration at a Christian church in the vicinity of the Columbia Heights neighborhood. He reported they turned close friends and he joined Arias-Lopez at instances accomplishing home advancement do the job in the region, together with setting up wood seats for a hookah lounge in Silver Spring.
Johnson claimed he helped Arias-Lopez shift quite a few periods, most lately a few yrs in the past into a rooming property off Ga Avenue wherever yet another gentleman who attended the church also lived. He explained he did not know where by Arias-Lopez lived at the time he was killed, whilst he stated the handyman experienced in the past received mail at a Wheaton place household Johnson’s family owns. Johnson reported Arias-Lopez also had a post office environment box.
“He was a very pleasant, talkative human being,” Johnson claimed of Arias-Lopez. “He was robust-handed and sturdy-minded. He could do nearly everything in dwelling advancement. He liked to talk and notify tales of his time in Guatemala.”
Johnson’s wife, Brenda, explained Arias-Lopez “was just residing his comprehensive existence and doing the job challenging.” She claimed he had couple buddies and devoted his time to his task, describing him as a “meticulous worker” and devout Christian.
Brenda Johnson said that Arias-Lopez experienced a stubborn streak that some discovered off-placing, but his near good friends realized he was a perfectionist. “He desired to do every thing best, the correct way,” she stated. “He led a very disciplined lifestyle. He was a tranquil dude.”
Yet another friend, Henry Mungai, 50, said he met Arias-Lopez through church and also assisted him on some construction employment. “He was extremely sensitive to currently being honest,” Mungai reported. “Even when he labored, he told me he wished to make folks happy, more than finding the dollars. He wished to do something he was happy of.”
Mungai claimed Arias-Lopez was proud of his dad and mom and sister but didn’t supply several specifics about his lifestyle. He had handful of hobbies, Mungai said, and savored spending his personalized time chatting about religion. “He was quite potent and animated when chatting about faith,” he stated.
Louis Johnson explained that the two labored together at least 3 periods in new yrs at the Kearny Road residence and that Arias-Lopez worked there at other occasions by himself. Johnson claimed that he normally dealt with Barnes’s sister and that Barnes remained quietly in the track record all through their visits. He recalled the property as being worn but not in lousy issue total. Law enforcement stated in courtroom files the property “showed indicators of neglect with a dilapidated floor degree deck” on the back.
Johnson claimed he assumed law enforcement had been searching for Arias-Lopez immediately after he documented him missing in Montgomery County. He had pushed close to looking for his mate but did not prevent on Kearny Street, wherever he could possibly have found his lacking Jeep.
“I ought to have,” Johnson reported.
On Feb. 4, Johnson stated, a D.C. law enforcement detective instructed him they experienced discovered his Jeep but did not convey to him they had also found human continues to be a day previously. He claimed he gave law enforcement a crucial to the motor vehicle.
The up coming day, Johnson explained, he drove to Kearny Road and fulfilled with Barnes’s sister, who advised him about what her brother had located in the backyard.
Johnson said he thought, “There was a 90 p.c possibility it was Abdulio.”
‘Why would you do this to me?’
Arias-Lopez arrived at the Kearny Street household the early morning of Nov. 4 and fulfilled with Barnes, the only one particular house at the time, to start out his painting position, law enforcement alleged in court paperwork.
They have been in the dwelling space when Arias-Lopez turned his again, the documents say. Barnes informed investigators that is when he pulled out a stun gun and fired it at the again of the handyman’s head, the files say.
The victim fell to the floor, blood spilling from a gash in his head.
“Why would you do this to me?” Barnes said Arias-Lopez questioned, according to the court docket files.
Barnes advised law enforcement he then kicked and punched the target, and dragged him down the stairs to his dwelling quarters in the basement, in accordance to the paperwork. He claimed he started to clean up the living home, kitchen and basement stairs, then left the home to obtain an ax at a hardware retail store, the paperwork say.
It is unclear when the target died. According to the arrest affidavit, Barnes explained he returned and beheaded Arias-Lopez with the ax, then dragged the rest of the overall body outside the house, close to the basement stairs, where by he reduce off the arms. He instructed police he hid the stays in the trash bag.
Police stated Barnes threw absent his possess footwear and washed his clothes.
Barnes’s sister explained to law enforcement she assumed Arias-Lopez never ever showed up at the dwelling. It seems no one particular other than Johnson went hunting for the handyman. Police did not address in the courtroom files irrespective of whether the sister recognized blood or other symptoms that a disturbance experienced transpired in the property.
Authorities described the basement exactly where Barnes lived as orderly. Bins loaded with apparel were being stacked versus a wall, and an previous washer was pushed in opposition to the doorway that leads outside, as if barricading the entrance. Handles from a knife and a machete protruded from a grey bin on major of the washer, police explained. A big roll of plastic wrap was close by, along with mops, a broom and cleansing liquid.
Barnes’s sister explained to police that on the early morning of Feb. 3, she sent her brother outdoors to clear the yard. He described that he smelled a foul odor and uncovered the continues to be. He and his sister individually named police.
The arrest affidavit states Barnes’s sister showed investigators textual content messages she exchanged with Arias-Lopez at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 4. A textual content she sent him at 11:08 a.m. went unanswered. She claimed that she was not dwelling at the time but that her brother was dwelling to satisfy the handyman. Police reported Barnes explained to them he had previous witnessed Arias-Lopez on Nov. 4 and denied getting any problems with him or hurting anyone.
Law enforcement claimed the sister directed them to the Jeep parked out front. Within, police mentioned, they uncovered an expired Guatemalan passport in the identify of “Obdulio Arias Lopez” and black trash baggage with purple pull strings.
Police mentioned in the courtroom files that cadaver puppies found suspected blood in the garden and on the back porch. Authorities stated they also found blood on the basement doorway. Law enforcement stated they utilized Hemastix strips in the basement to detect blood not conveniently obvious. They mentioned they found evidence of blood near a floor drain, in footprints on the basement stairs and on duct tape utilized to seal a door. They reported they also observed a bloody fingerprint.
A shorter time later, police mentioned, Barnes’s sister referred to as the guide murder detective and stated her brother had produced cryptic responses about God wanting him to be truthful. The detective returned to the property and questioned Barnes, in accordance to the court docket doc, and he asked for an legal professional and mental wellbeing counseling.
Law enforcement mentioned Barnes told them “he just felt terrible.”
Law enforcement did not arrest him, rather trying to get further proof and conclusions of DNA checks on the blood and system.
On Feb. 15, law enforcement claimed, Barnes’s sister termed the detective yet again, this time declaring her brother preferred to “turn himself in.” Law enforcement said they observed Barnes at a shelter.
Police claimed in the arrest affidavit that Barnes instructed the detective he felt unwell about what transpired and that “he has repented to God for his actions.” Law enforcement mentioned he presented investigators with a in depth account of the killing.
Requested why he qualified Arias-Lopez, law enforcement stated Barnes answered that “he felt indignant and upset for unknown causes, as if a black cloud was about his head.”
Barnes informed police that immediately after firing the stun gun into the again of Arias-Lopez’s head on Nov. 4, he blacked out. He claimed that when he arrived to, he assumed, “What the hell did I just do?”
Razzan Nakhlawi, Luz Lazo, Emily Davies and Omari Daniels contributed to this report.