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Woman killed by man recently released for stalking her 20 years ago, officials say

Court documents show that Garrett and Matthews have a long history, with Garrett being charged with stalking after breaking into the same home in 1999.

WASHINGTON — Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) have arrested a man who they believe recently killed a woman he stalked years ago and subsequently served multiple decades in prison for the crime. 

A police report shows officers were called to the area of Elmira Street in Southwest on Dec. 3 for a report of a burglary in the process just after 11:15 a.m. 

According to documents from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia Criminal Division, when officers arrived a witness said they believed 71-year-old Sylvia Matthews was being held hostage. 

Officers said they found Matthews unconscious and suffering from "an apparently serious head injury." According to a press release from MPD, Matthews died from her injuries a day later. 

Police arrested 66-year-old Michael Garrett in connection to Matthews's death.

According to court documents, officers claim Garrett was at the home when they arrived. Garrett allegedly told officers "he just got there" and that Matthews had called him to come over because she believed that someone had broken into her home. 

Officers claim Garrett said he had just gotten to the home five minutes before police did and that the doors were open. He said he called 911 from the victim's phone because his phone was dead. 

Court documents show this was the third time in one day that officers had to come to the home. A burglary was reported to be in process just after 7:30 a.m. and a little more than an hour later officers were called back to the home allegedly due to Garrett. 

During the second call, just before 8:45 a.m., officers arrived and learned Garrett was not at the home but on the phone with the victim. An officer claims they tried to talk to Garrett on the phone and tell him to leave Matthews alone but he refused to speak with officers. 

Court documents show that Garrett and Matthews have a long history, with Garrett being charged with stalking after breaking into the same home in 1999.

Matthews told officers she met Garrett while working as a corrections officer. She said they only spoke on the phone as Garrett was locked up at the time of their relationship. 

When Garrett was released in 1998, Matthews claimed he broke into her home. 

Charged with stalking in 1999

According to court documents, Garrett was arrested on Jan. 22, 1999. 

MPD says police reports and case files dating back to 1999 are not available for full review. However, details were available in court documents filed in February 2021. The documents were filed to oppose Garrett's release from detention. 

Documents say Matthews was sitting in her living room when she heard glass breaking upstairs. She went to check it out and found Garrett climbing through her bathroom window. He was able to make it inside the house and documents say he chased Matthews out of the home. He was later arrested after police found him hiding in a closet in the Matthews's basement. 

Garrett was charged with stalking, assault with a dangerous weapon, destruction of property, first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary. He was sentenced nearly 11 months later. 

Released in 2021

According to court documents, on January 15, 2021, Garrett's counsel asked that he be released, stating Garrett "had been rehabilitated was no longer a threat to society."

The motion for release was granted and Garrett was placed on two concurrent terms of probation for three years. 

Garrett was released from detention on March 26, 2021 and again police began having to go back to the same home on Elmira Street to deal with him.

Court documents show on Oct. 7, MPD officers were called to the home just before 1:45 a.m. for a disorderly, unwanted person. 

Officers say a Ring camera captured Garrett knocking, calling and asking Matthews to open up. Matthews told officers that Garrett had threatened her and said he was going to kill her. 

At around 10:30 p.m. the same day, court documents show officers met with employees from the Department of Behavioral Health. 

"A referral had been made to the Department of Behavioral Health that defendant Garrett had stated he would utilize a firearm to shoot the victim," court documents read.

Garrett was arrested for threats to kidnap or injure a person, however, prosecution was declined. 

Several days later, MPD officers were called to 901 K St. in Northwest when Matthews reported to officers she got into an argument with Garrett over groceries. Matthews told officers Garrett put her in a headlock and punched her in the face multiple times. 

Court documents say Matthews claimed Garrett held a corkscrew to her neck and screamed, "I am going to kill you." 

Officers said Matthews was visibly injured and court documents show a report was filed for threats to kidnap or injure a person, however, the case was ultimately suspended. 

Previously, Garrett was charged with assault with intent to kill. Detectives are currently working with the United States Attorney's Office to file additional charges related to Matthews's death. 

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