Police: Dead Man's Thumb Taken to Access Payment App

Fasil Teklemariam, 53, was found dead in Washington, DC, in early April
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2024 8:17 AM CDT
Police: Dead Man's Thumb Taken to Access Payment App
   (Getty Images / Martin Barraud)

The crime itself was grisly, the aftermath even more so. Authorities in Washington, DC, say Fasil Teklemariam was found dead in his bedroom on April 5; he had been stabbed in the stomach with enough force that his spine was struck, WTOP reports via an autopsy report. One of his thumbs had been removed, either close to his time of death or afterward, per the autopsy. Based on apartment surveillance footage, police believe the 53-year-old was murdered by two young women. Per the affidavit, they say a witness told them the women used Teklemariam's severed thumb to access his mobile payment app and take money from his account.

Audrey Denise Miller, 19, was arrested on June 21; Tiffany Taylor Gray, 22, was arrested on July 1. Both have been charged with first-degree murder and armed felony murder, with Teklemariam's cause of death listed as "multiple blunt force" and "sharp force injuries." The affidavit describes Gray as a prostitute who was in some kind of relationship with Teklemariam, reports NBC News, with WUSA9 describing him as her "sugar daddy."

"Members of the Homicide Branch and DFS searched [Teklemariam's] apartment and as of this writing, detectives have not located the decedent's thumb, decedent's cellphone, tablet, or any other such electronic device," court documents noted. (More murder stories.)

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