- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Metropolitan Police yesterday arrested and charged an unemployed neighbor in the slaying of mayoral aide Wanda R. Alston after recovering her car and credit cards.

William Parrot Jr., 38, was charged with first-degree murder while armed. Mr. Parrot, who lives next-door down to Miss Alston’s home in the 3800 block of East Capitol Street NE, is scheduled to be arraigned today in D.C. Superior Court.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said Mr. Parrot apparently had been “high” on drugs for several days and had possession of Miss Alston’s credit cards when police arrested him. He called her slaying “another example of senseless violence.”

Miss Alston, 45, was the director of the mayor’s Office on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs. Police said an “associate” found her body in a pool of blood inside her home near the front door at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. She had been stabbed multiple times, and police estimated her time of death between 1 and 4 p.m.

Police said that Mr. Parrot knew Miss Alston and that there were no signs that he broke into her house. Investigators would not discuss a motive, but said it likely wasn’t a hate crime.

City officials last night expressed relief over the timely arrest of a suspect in Miss Alston’s slaying.

“It does at least provide us with some sense of closure to what is a horrible loss to the city,” said Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who had wept during an earlier press conference yesterday.

“What a relief this is,” said D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. “What a contrast to how I woke up feeling this morning.”

Police yesterday found Miss Alston’s gray 2000 Nissan Sentra at about 12:30 p.m. in the 5000 block of C Street SE, about two miles east of her home, and took it to the mobile crime unit to collect evidence.

A resident told police that he had seen who abandoned the car and led investigators to an apartment about two blocks away. Officers left the apartment with at least one person in custody and would not say whether that person’s detainment was related to Miss Alston’s death.

Police reportedly had detained two “persons of interest” in the case, but did not officially identify a second suspect yesterday.

Co-workers and friends yesterday remembered Miss Alston as a powerful personality who had devoted her life to the District and the homosexual cause.

“It’s a huge loss for me personally. It’s a huge loss for my family, but beyond that, it’s a huge loss for our city,” Mr. Williams said during a morning press conference. “My heart is broken at this loss.”

Others also mourned her death.

“The real fear is, what will happen next. All this good work has been done,” said Bruce Weiss, executive director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League.

Mr. Graham, one of the council’s two openly homosexual members, said Miss Alston was “a remarkable human being — focused, determined, a bridge builder and an effective worker. Her death touches many people.”

Miss Alston had worked in the office of the deputy mayor for public safety and justice, and she was the mayor’s liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau from 1999 to 2000.

Before that she worked for the homosexual rights group Human Rights Campaign, formed a consulting company, worked as a legal assistant and, from 1992 to 1996, was executive assistant to National Organization for Women President Patricia Ireland.

Miss Alston was a D.C. delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and took a leave of absence from her Cabinet post to work on Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign. She lost a re-election bid to the Democratic State Committee in September.

Her hard work for the mayor was recognized in September, when he upgraded her position, which had been a one-woman show for three years, to a Cabinet position in charge of a full staff.

She had been working to organize a homosexual and transgender summit called by the mayor and scheduled to take place in April.

Sgt. Brett Parsons of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit said last night that Miss Alston’s relatives were “elated” about the news of an arrest in the case.

Matthew Cella and Jim McElhatton contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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