While teens played basketball at the Joe Cole Community Center Monday night, a group of about 20 people joined together nearby in prayer. They were gathered in the name of a woman none of them knew, but who was brutally stabbed just a few hundred feet from where they stood.
“It’s been just all I can think about since it happened,” said ANC commissioner Tina Laskaris, who organized the event with staff from the community center.
Alecia Wheeler was a 42-year-old mother of four who had just picked up up her children from the rec center last Tuesday when a man drove up to her, jumped out of his truck, threw her against it, and began stabbing her. She died of her injuries that afternoon. Her husband, Claude Kinney, has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder while armed in connection with the case.
Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas opened the vigil Monday with a prayer and spoke about the need for the community to help women in situations of domestic violence.
Attendees stood in a circle in front of the entrance to the community center - a few hundred feet away from where Wheeler was stabbed.
Wheeler had moved to the Trinidad neighborhood not too long ago. A staff member at the community center said she kept to herself, even when using the computer lab.
The vigil centered on how to help her four children and how community leaders hoped to respond to domestic violence in the area.
Karma Cottman, director of the DC Coalition against Domestic Violence said the neighborhood has a larger problem with domestic violence. Calls to police on domestic violence are particularly high in the neighborhood’s police service area, she said.
A support fund for the children is being organized by the children’s elementary school principal. They are also eligible for assistance from the DC Crime Victims fund, for funeral expenses and relocation costs, Cottman said.