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Twin sisters are accused of conspiring to kill their teenage brother, who was choked to death nearly four and a half years ago, according to new evidence.
Leaundra Kim Matthews, 23, and Lemae Markia Matthews, 23, were arrested in the 2017 fatal strangulation of their 17-year-old sibling Christian Matthews, officials announced on Sept. 17.
Daniel Juwan Howard, 25, was also taken into custody in connection with the Maryland teen’s homicide. He and Leaundra Matthews were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Lemae Matthews faces a singular charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
On March 21, 2017, Christian Howard was found unresponsive with a bruised neck in the basement of the family’s Silver Spring home. According to an autopsy, the 17-year-old had been asphyxiated.
Leaundra Matthews, who called police, told authorities she’d been upstairs in her bedroom with her twin sister Lemae Matthews when they heard an audible struggle emanating from the basement, according to charging documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Tysean Lipford, 24, the boyfriend and father of two of Leaundra Matthews’ children, was arrested in March 2017 for the killing. He later confessed to choking Christian Matthews at his girlfriend’s behest.
Under questioning, Lipford told investigators he and Leaundra Matthews had plotted to kill her younger brother because Christian Matthews had “threatened” to hurt her and her daughter, court documents stated.
“He had to go,” Lipford recalled Leaundra Matthews telling him, according to the charging documents.
Lipford told investigators that Leaundra Matthews picked him up and dropped him off at an unnamed witness's home on the night of the murder.
On Aug. 15, 2019, Leaundra Matthews also confessed to her mother and her aunt that she was involved in her younger brother’s killing. According to her mother, Patricia Edelin, Leaundra Matthews remained “straight faced” while recounting details of her sibling’s slaying.
“It had to be done,” Leaundra Matthews told her mother, according to charging documents. “[Christian Matthews] had to go because he wasn’t going to stop.”
Leaundra Matthews admitted to waiting for Christian Matthews to fall asleep in the basement of the home before unlocking the back door and leaving a pair of disposable gloves for Lipford on a bar at the property. She then allegedly signaled her boyfriend, who was allegedly waiting outside with Howard, referred to in charging documents as “Ghost.”
When Patricia Edelin asked what happened to Christian Matthews, Leaundra Matthews responded, “Ghost held him down and Tysean choked him,” court filings alleged.
Text messages, obtained by police, exchanged between Leaundra Matthews and Tysean Lipford, suggest the couple had worked in tandem, jointly monitoring Christian Matthews’ whereabouts prior to the slaying.
“I need him in dere so I can em out,” Lipford texted his girlfriend before the murder, advising her to let him know when her brother was home.
According to investigators, however, Leaundra Matthews largely masterminded the murder, directing the fatal plot from her cell phone.
At one point, the 23-year-old “threatened to terminate the plan if it was not carried out on her terms,” in a message she sent to Lipford, charging documents stated.
Other messages show Leaundra Matthews instructing her boyfriend what to do upon entering the basement where Christian Matthews was sleeping.
“Then yall gonn f--k up the house so itss gon be known that yall was in here,” she told Lipford.
In 2019, Lipford was found guilty of second-degree murder in Christian Matthews’ death. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Leaundra Matthews, Lemae Matthews, and Daniel Howard are being held without bond at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, police said.
“The latest arrests in the 2017 murder of Christian Matthews evolved out of four years of continuing investigative work between our office and Montgomery County Police and our commitment to seeking justice,” John McCarthy, the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, told Oxygen.com in a statement Monday. “We now intend to prosecute three additional defendants, holding each of them accountable for their roles in Christian’s death.”
Leaundra Matthews is scheduled in court for a bond hearing on Monday. She’ll be represented by a public defender, according to prosecutors.
Lemae Matthews, who hasn’t been indicted yet, is expected to appear in court on Oct. 12. Kevin B. Collins, her defense lawyer, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Monday.
Anyone with additional information related to the case is urged to contact the Montgomery County Police Department’s Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.
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