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DC man turns himself in after decapitated body found in backyard of Brookland home

Lavaughn Barnes, 32, was charged with first-degree murder while armed, according to police.

WASHINGTON — A 32-year-old man has been arrested for first-degree murder after a decapitated and decomposing body was found in his yard in Northeast D.C. in early February. 

According to homicide detectives with the Metropolitan Police Department, officers were called to the 1300 block of Kearney Street Northeast in Brookland around 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 3. When officers got to the scene, they found a body in a black, plastic trash bag in the back yard. 

According to a search warrant affidavit, a witness told police they were clearing the field from the overgrowth of bamboo when they found the remains. The affidavit said the body was "partially decomposed" and missing a head and hands. The cause of death was determined to be homicide.  

WUSA9 crews were outside the Kearny Street house, near Catholic University, when police searched the property on Feb. 6. At the time, police would only confirm that remains were found. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, 32-year-old Lavaughn Barnes of Northeast D.C. turned himself into police and, according to prosecutors, confessed to killing a handyman, whose identify has not yet been released. Barnes was charged with first-degree murder while armed, and appeared in DC Superior Court Thursday evening. 

The judge called the crime "incredibly random" saying there was no sign that the man had done anything to Barnes. Blood was found inside the house but the judge said it had not yet been determined if it was the victim's blood. The judge, referencing charging documents, said items believed to have been used by Barnes in the murder were also found in the home.

Prosecutors said that Barnes suffers from severe mental illness.

Barnes has no prior criminal history, but the judge said it was clear he was a danger to the community, and ordered him to be held without bail until his next court appearance in March. 

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