A 71-year-old D.C. woman succumbed to her injuries after she was allegedly attacked by a man who had reportedly been stalking and harassing her. According to WUSA9, the victim, identified as Sylvia Matthews, called the police twice for protection from Michael Garrett hours before she was assaulted. That was on December 3.
Per court filings, Matthews met Garrett in 1998 when he was an inmate at a local prison she was working at. Garrett reportedly assaulted Matthews after he was released that same year, and he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
But Garrett was compassionately released two years before completing his sentence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. His release was legally challenged by the US Attorney’s Office. And following Matthew’s death, her family said authorities could have prevented the tragic incident.
“He should not have been on the street,” a relative told NBC Washington.
Garrett was initially arrested on October 7 after he allegedly threatened Matthews at her home. But prosecutors did not pursue the case. They did not explain why that decision was taken. The suspect once again assaulted the victim outside her home on October 22. However, Garrett’s prosecution was suspended once again without any reason given, WUSA9 reported.
On the morning of Matthews’ death, police said she called to report Garrett was breaking into her car and also trying to force his way into her home. He was, however, not seen when police responded to the scene. Matthews then called over an hour later to report she had once again spotted the suspect outside her home, and she was even talking to him on the phone. Police said they returned to Matthews’ home and used her phone to call Garrett to tell him to leave the victim alone. He, however, cut the call.
Before 12 PM the same day, witnesses said they heard someone who looked like Garrett yelling at Matthews and trying to force his way into her home. The witnesses said they also heard a fight from inside Matthews’ home. Officers who later responded to the scene saw Matthews severely injured in her basement. Garrett, who was also in the basement at the time, was arrested.
Garrett told police he had come to Matthews’ home to check up on her, and he found her injured, NBC Washington reported. The victim succumbed to her injuries the next day.
“Oh my gosh, we’re devastated,” Matthews’ relative said. “It’s like the system failed us.”
Garrett was initially charged with assault with intent to kill. Last week, it was reported that detectives were working with the United States Attorney’s Office to file additional charges related to Matthews’s death.