- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Metropolitan Police yesterday were investigating the death of a Northwest woman found stabbed in her apartment in Columbia Heights.

Gabriela Jose Lopez, 29, was stabbed “multiple times” in her seventh-floor apartment at the Gelmarc Towers in the 1900 block of Columbia Road NW, said Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the police department’s Violent Crimes Branch.

Her body was found just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, when a co-worker visited Miss Lopez’s apartment after she didn’t show up for work. Capt. Morris said the co-worker entered the apartment through an unlocked door, found the body and flagged down a police officer outside the building.

Capt. Morris said Miss Lopez, a Venezuelan national, had been dead for “at least one or two days.” He said she was last seen Saturday.

Capt. Morris said that Miss Lopez lived alone, that there was no sign of forced entry into her apartment and that nothing appeared to have been stolen.

“It’s possible it’s someone she knew,” he said. “Robbery is not likely the motive.”

He did not say whether Miss Lopez had been sexually assaulted, indicating that investigators are awaiting the results of tests being conducted by the medical examiner’s office.

He said police are examining video surveillance footage taken from the building.

A man who answered the phone at the Arlington law firm Manuel Rivera Esq. & Associates confirmed that Miss Lopez worked for the firm, but he declined to provide further information.

Mark Kutcher, a longtime resident of the Gelmarc Towers, said he had never heard of any problems there beyond minor property crimes.

“This is the first violent crime in the building, I’d say, in the past 20 years,” Mr. Kutcher said.

Police yesterday also were investigating the death of a worker found unclothed in an elevator shaft at a construction site in the 500 block of Pennsylvania Ave. NW, the future home of the Newseum.

Joseph Allen Oliver, 23, of La Plata, Md., was found by a co-worker at about 6 a.m., Capt. Morris said.

Capt. Morris said it did not appear that Mr. Oliver was a victim of foul play.

“We’re still looking into it, but right now it doesn’t appear to be criminal,” he said.

William M. Brennan, executive vice president of Turner Construction Co., which is building the Newseum complex, said he did not know why Mr. Oliver was found without any clothes on. He said the man’s clothes were found on the fourth floor of the building.

Mr. Brennan said that the workday typically began at about 7 a.m., but that it was not unusual for workers to show up as early as 5:30.

“We’re not sure what happened, but we’re pretty sure it’s not construction-related,” he said.

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