Man’s thumb cut off by suspects who used it to steal money off his phone, court docs say

Surveillance footage allegedly shows Audrey Miller entering the apartment building with Fasil Teklemariam on April 1, 2024. (Courtesy D.C. courts)

A man was stabbed and killed inside his apartment in April and the suspects cut off his thumb in order to steal money off his cellphone, according to D.C. court documents.

Two women have been arrested and charged this month in the killing of Fasil Teklemariam, 53, who was found dead inside his apartment on Peabody Street in Northwest on April 5.

Tiffany Taylor Gray, 22, and Audrey Denise Miller, 19, are both being charged with first-degree murder while armed, according to D.C. police.

Court documents allege that witnesses told investigators Teklemariam was Gray’s “sugar daddy,” and that the 22-year-old was involved in prostitution.

An autopsy report found Teklemariam had sustained multiple blunt force fractures to his head, and a stab wound that punctured his stomach, small intestine, aorta and struck his spine.

Gray is also accused of using Teklemariam’s severed right thumb to bypass security measures on his phone to gain access to a payment app.

One witness told police that Gray paid for Uber, weed and alcohol by using the thumb, according to the court documents.

Gray went under fake names to conceal her identity, including the alias “Taylor Greene,” prosecutors said in the court documents.

Around the time period of the killing, the two women were seen on surveillance footage entering and exiting Teklemariam’s apartment along with two men — one of whom was identified in court documents but hasn’t been charged.

The group of four was seen carrying items out of Teklemariam’s apartment after the time he is believed to have been killed, prosecutors said.

What investigators found inside the apartment

D.C. police were called to the apartment in the 1300 block of Peabody Street on April 5 about an unconscious person.

There, officers found a victim, later identified as Teklemariam, laying down in the bedroom, unconscious and unresponsive, according to court documents.

Broken glass lay on top of his body and on the bed around him, prosecutors said. Blood was found on the bedroom floor.

He had been stabbed and his right thumb was missing; court documents said it was removed either right before he died or afterward.

Based on the findings of the autopsy, investigators believe he was killed several days before police were called to the apartment.

It appeared as if cleaning products were used in an attempt to hide evidence, court documents said.

Teklemariam’s thumb and his cellphone were missing from the home; neither have been found, according to court documents. Detectives also couldn’t find his SUV, which was possibly seen being driven by one of the suspects back in April.

What connected the suspects to the crime

Teklemariam was last seen alive April 1. Prosecutors said surveillance footage shows the man enter his apartment building with Miller.

Over the next couple days, surveillance cameras captured members of the group going in and out of the apartment building where Teklemariam lived, prosecutors said. After using his key fob to get into the building, they walked out carrying bags holding Teklemariam’s belongings such as his electronics.

In part, Gray was linked to the homicide because of an old complaint Teklemariam made to D.C. police last year. On Oct. 1, 2023, Teklemariam met up with Gray — whom he knew as “Taylor” and he said she left without saying goodbye. His phone was gone and a payment app was charged without his consent.

The thief allegedly stole $1,600, then another $200 from Teklemariam through his payment apps. A third attempted charge of $325 didn’t go through.

Teklemariam reported the theft to police.

A series of violent thefts, targeting potential romantic partners

Gray is accused of repeatedly scamming and stealing from potential romantic partners she met on dating apps in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She’s also accused of repeatedly concealing her identity from law enforcement.

She rented a unit at Landmark Apartments in College Park under a false name and had Teklemariam listed as her guarantor.

Court documents allege she met up with a person from a dating app at that apartment on May 1 and, along with two men, robbed him.

After the victim entered her bedroom, she left the room and two men came inside. While armed, they ordered the victim to lay on the bed, and tied his hands and feet with zip ties, prosecutors said.

While threatening to shoot him if he didn’t comply, they stole his wallet and forced him to open his phone using facial recognition. They also demanded he provide the pin number for his bank account, according to court documents.

Gray allegedly left the apartment with one of the men to steal money from the victim’s bank account. The group ended up leaving him in a closet, still tied up. He was able to break free and call for help.

Meanwhile, his home in Northeast was also burglarized, court documents said.

One of the men allegedly involved in both incidents, who has not been charged, admitted being at the scene of the College Park robbery but said he didn’t commit the crime, prosecutors said. He told investigators he had accepted payments from Gray.

In her first appearance in D.C. Superior Court on June 22, Miller was ordered held without bond. She will next appear before a judge for a July 30 preliminary hearing.

Gray, who was arrested in Prince George’s County, is still awaiting extradition back to D.C.

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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