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Washington, DC Woman Allegedly Killed By A Man Who Spent Decades Threatening To Kill Her

Sylvia Matthews died Saturday after she was attacked by the man who had allegedly stalked her for over a decade. Matthews' family says the system let them down. 

Police Tape G

Michael Garrett had a long and complicated history with Sylvia Matthews. He even served time in prison for stalking her. And now, Garrett is charged with her murder. 

Washington, DC police responded to a report of a burglary in at Matthews’ home on December 3 shortly after 11 a.m. One witness told police that Mathews, 71, was being held hostage.

Police found Mathews unconscious and suffering from “apparent trauma,” according to a press release from the Metropolitan Police Department. She was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Garrett, 66, was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill. Matthews died Saturday.

Police said Garrett was at Mathews’ home when they arrived. He allegedly told officers that “he had just got there.”

He claimed that Matthews asked him to come over because someone was trying to break into her home and that he used her telephone to call 911 because his phone was dead, according to WUSA citing court documents,

Family members told WRC-TV that they believe Matthews met Garrett while she was working in the pharmacy of the Old Lorton Reformatory where Garrett was an inmate. 

In 1999, after Garrett released, he was charged with stalking after Matthews caught him climbing through her bathroom window. Police later found him hiding in the closet in Matthews’ basement and arrested him. In addition to stalking, he was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and destruction of property and sent back to prison. 

Earlier this year, Garrett was granted a compassionate release from prison because of the pandemic. Prosecutors opposed his release.

Once he was free, Garrett returned to Matthews’ home. On October 7, police responded to a report of a disorderly and unwanted person.

Police said Garrett was captured on home security footage knocking and asking Matthews to open her door. She told police that he had threatened to kill her, WUSA reported.

He was referred to the Department of Behavioral Health after stating “he would use a firearm to shoot the victim.”

According to the station, Garrett was arrested for threats to kidnap or injure a person, but prosecution was declined.

Just a few days later, Matthews called police and alleged that Garrett put her in a headlock and punched her in the face several times. She also said Garrett held a corkscrew to her neck and threatened to kill her.

Her family is heartbroken and said Garrett should not have been on the streets.

“Oh my gosh, we’re devastated,” her relative told WRC-TV. “It’s like the system failed us.”

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