- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2015

A D.C. man arraigned Thursday on charges related to a slew of car break-ins that span affluent areas of Northwest, from Tenleytown to Georgetown, is also under investigation for the killing of a 76-year-old Korean grocery store owner last summer, according to court records.

Police arrested Jahmar Thaxter, 23, in connection with 19 car break-ins after a GPS ankle monitor placed him at scene of thefts that occurred between Feb. 22 and March 30, according to a warrant for his arrest.

Additional court documents show that Metropolitan Police Department detectives have sought DNA samples from Thaxter that could tie him to the homicide of James Oh, the owner of Gold Corner Market in 16th Street Heights.

Oh and his wife were beaten during a robbery of their store in July. The beloved store owner sustained multiple skull fractures and died from his injuries four days after the attack.

In the days immediately after the homicide, police released surveillance video from inside the store that showed two men struggle with Oh and his wife, and said a stolen Jeep used as a getaway car had been recovered. Officials have provided little information about the ongoing investigation.

But a search warrant filed by homicide detectives in February indicates that police tested DNA obtained from a cigarette butt found inside the recovered Jeep and got a hit. The FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database listed Thaxter, who was convicted of attempted robbery in 2010, as a match to the DNA on the cigarette.

The search warrant, served Feb. 28, allowed police to take a sample of Thaxter’s DNA using a cheek swab.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the investigation Thursday, noting that no one has been arrested for the homicide.

“Detectives continue to investigate this open case,” police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said.

The same week that detectives obtained a DNA sample from Thaxter, police said the Northeast D.C. resident was in the midst of a crime spree — breaking into as many as seven cars a day.

Thaxter smashed out car windows and stole items including laptop computers, purses, and jewelry — all while wearing a Global Positioning Satellite device, an arrest warrant affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court states. The warrant does not indicate why Thaxter was ordered to wear the GPS monitor, when he began wearing it or what prompted police to track his movements during the times in question.

Leonard Sikes, a spokesman for the District’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, said Thaxter was on supervised probation for a destruction of property conviction beginning Jan. 22. Mr. Sikes declined to discuss whether Thaxter was on GPS monitoring as a result of his conviction due to ongoing police investigations.

One of the thefts Thaxter is accused of involved a car that was broken into while parked for 25 minutes at 41st and Davenport streets NW next to Fort Reno. Thaxter’s GPS “‘pings’ nine times in the area of 41st and Davenport, starting about six minutes prior to the complainant parking his car to about two minutes afterward,” the arrest warrant states.

In the warrant, police describe five similar scenarios of the GPS pinging near the location of a car break-in as it occurred, and note that Thaxter is believed to have been near the location of 10 other car break-ins at the times they occurred.

Although Thaxter wore a GPS monitor at the time he is accused of going on the crime spree, he was released from jail Thursday after his arraignment on the conditions that he wear a GPS monitor and check in with a probation officer.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case.

An attorney listed as representing Thaxter in court records did not return calls seeking comment.

A phone message left at Thaxter’s home went unreturned.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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