WASHINGTON - There is new information in the mysterious death of a man whose body was found after a fire tore through his Northeast D.C. apartment.
Court and police records show 66-year-old Awlachew Ayele was assaulted just hours after telling D.C. police that drug dealers had taken over his apartment. He was found dead the following day.
Through the court documents and a police report, FOX 5 found a man was arrested and accused of assaulting Ayele and another woman. He is currently being held on a robbery charge.
According to a timeline we have been able to establish:
- Jan. 25, 3 p.m.: Ayele and his landlord go to see narcotics investigators at an office on New York Avenue.
- Jan. 25, 5-6 p.m.: Ayele is back at his apartment.
- Jan. 25, 8:16 p.m.: Police and fire department are called to Ayele’s apartment for an assault.
- Jan. 26, 6:20 a.m.: The fire department responds for the odor of smoke in Ayele's apartment. After several searches, firefighters discover his body under a pile of debris.
- Jan. 26, 3:45 p.m.: Gary Martin, also known as Garrett Taylor, is arrested for the assault and questioned by homicide detectives. He is being held without bond on a robbery charge.
When firefighters first arrived in the 1100 block of Queen Street on Jan. 26, they were unable to find any victims inside in the first two searches. By the third search, they had found 66-year-old Ayele under a pile of household debris. After examining the evidence for several days, investigators determined the fire was intentionally set.
The court affidavit filed in connection with a search warrant says investigators found evidence of what may have been an assault in the backyard of the man’s apartment as well as the porch leading to his back door. It was described as blood stains.
The affidavit also says when firefighters entered the apartment, they found the gas stove top burner controls in the on position and when they discovered Ayele's body, there was blood coming from his mouth.
In exclusive video shot by FOX 5 last week, you can see a chilling message was written on Ayele’s apartment wall. It reads, "YOU GOING DOWN AYELE."
So far, the medical examiner has not ruled on a cause and manner of death. But in the affidavit, which was written by a homicide investigator, police were looking for weapons that may have caused his death.
The search warrant filed in the case says police found multiple lighters and four cellphones. According to his landlord, Ayele did not own a cell phone.
We have had extensive conversations with the landlord about the mysterious death and fire. He has asked us not to use his name fearing for his safety. FOX 5 has been unable to reach any of Ayele’s relatives.
Despite the fact homicide investigators have been on the case since the start and fire investigators have said this blaze was intentionally set, D.C. police have stopped short of calling this a suspicious death.