Speculation is rampant over the skeletal remains of three women found recently in the District. As daily updates of police and news reports continue, so do the theories about what could have happened to these women and why. The concern is also growing about the ongoing investigation and the possibility that more remains might be discovered.
For those who once lived in the area on and near the 100 block of Wayne Place SE where the remains were found, dark memories of a street notorious for drug trafficking, prostitution and crime immediately emerge. It is a block that is home to many low-income, unemployed men and women who try to live semi-normal lives despite its legacy of assaults, burglaries and shootings.
But just like much of Southeast that is now the focus of wide-ranging development and gentrification, Wayne Place also is a changing community. Several of the two- and three-story apartment buildings that line both sides of the street are under renovation, which is how a contractor discovered the remains in one of those buildings. The alleyway has been repaved, and residents are eager to see who their new neighbors will be.
Meanwhile, the search for the identities of these women continues, thanks to DNA and the work of police, forensic investigators and the D.C. medical examiner. Their identities cannot come too soon. The families of the missing are anxious to know if they’re loved one has been found, regardless of the circumstances that led to their demise.
We hope that this an isolated incident in an area of the city defined by a lack of inequitable policies that has existed for decades. This situation makes it clear that in neighborhoods stricken by neglect and where individuals struggle to survive, anything can happen.