Search continues for person of interest in DC lawyer hotel murder

There are new details in the murder of a D.C. lawyer at The Donovan Hotel and the search for a person of interest caught on camera.

Authorities say the wife of David Messerschmitt last saw her husband Sunday night and reported him missing early Tuesday morning.

The missing person report filed by Messerschmitt's wife says he did not come home from work on Monday, and when she had not heard from him, she called the police just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The 30-year-old lawyer was found stabbed to death inside the hotel a few hours later.

D.C. police released new video and photographs of a person of interest seen coming into the hotel and walking up some stairs at around 7:40 p.m. Monday.

It is unclear if this person is a male or female, but two sources familiar with the investigation say the prevailing theory is the person is a woman.

It was raining Monday night and the person of interest is dressed in what appears to be snow pants or rain gear, a heavy coat with hood and gloves.

Messerschmitt, who worked as an intellectual property lawyer for the 8th Street firm DLA Piper, was found stabbed to death inside Room 400 on the fourth floor.

Jim Trainum, a former D.C. police homicide detective and now retired, said in a case like this, a team of investigators are working together examining the man's background and looking through his personal records.

"Who is this person? You want to look at everything about them and build a good victimology," he said. "You want to know who their associates are, their activities, and to do that, it sometimes takes a whole lot of digging and a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance.

"Most people who are killed by somebody within their inner circle, somebody they have a relationship with."

He said investigators would also be searching Messerschmitt's phone, computer and any social media sites he may have been on.

We showed the retired investigator the video now released to the public and asked him what police would be doing to get a name. And what happens when someone calls in with a name matching the face?

"The problem occurs when you do get that phone call, you have to make sure that you don't start looking at the person named in the phone call and trying to link them to the crime," he said. "That's when the investigation becomes what we call suspect-based -- you want to keep it evidence-based so you get the name of the suspect, does that evidence lead you to that suspect rather than the other way around."

Trainum said holding the scene for days at a time is an ideal way to make sure you have collected all of the evidence.

Messerschmitt was married and came to Washington D.C. after earning degrees at Ohio State University and Boston University School of Law.

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