D.C. Corrections Official Found Murdered in Alexandria: Police

The man accused in the death of the deputy director of D.C.'s Department of Corrections will remain behind bars.

Carolyn Cross, deputy director for operations for the department, was found dead in her home in the 4800 block of Kenmore Avenue in Alexandria shortly before 8:15 a.m. Sunday. Cross was 64.

Authorities have charged Dawit Seyoum, 29, of Alexandria, with first-degree murder in the case.

Seyoum lives in the building next door to Cross, and their apartment buildings share a parking lot. However, authorities don't believe the two knew each other.

"We have no reason to believe that they knew each other, and no reason to believe that this was connected to her work with D.C. Corrections," said Crystal Nosal of Alexandria Police.

Cross was supposed to travel to a management conference in Atlanta, but when her daughter arrived at her apartment to drive her to the airport, there was no answer at the door. Her daughter found her body inside.

"I think the scary thing about it is that it appears that there was no connection between the two, but thankfully, we caught him shortly after we discovered her," Nosal said.

A neighbor told News4's Pat Collins that she remembers Seyoum spending time in the apartment community's gym, wearing street clothes and staring at women who were working out.

Seyoum appeared in court for the first time Monday morning via closed-circuit television, dressed in a safety smock, the kind used to protect inmates who are considered to be at risk of suicide.

His wrists, inner arms and forearms were bandaged, reported News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey. It's not clear whether the wounds were self-inflicted.

"This is a punch in the gut," Thomas Faust, director of the Corrections Department, told News4's Tom Sherwood. "She's been a critical person in my agency and a dear friend.

"She was a rock, both personally and professionally to me and the department," Faust said. "She was a great lady. This is a huge loss."

Faust said that Cross had worked in corrections for more than 35 years. She worked her way up through the corrections ranks, including serving as a warden at the Lorton complex in Virginia, Faust said.

Cross had retired from the Department of Corrections but returned as deputy when Faust took over, about three years ago.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray called Cross' death a "terrible tragedy."

"Carolyn Cross was a top-notch professional who, in recent years, helped transform the Department of Corrections into a nationally accredited agency. This is a terrible loss for the Department and for the District," Gray said in a statement released Monday.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton also offered her condolences.

Anyone with information about the crime should call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6711.

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