66 Year Old Tourist from Denver Killed in Petworth on Tuesday

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From NBC Washington:

“Gary Dederichs, 66, was found in an alley in the 800 block of Emerson Street NW at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with severe head trauma. He had been beaten and was later pronounced dead.

Dederichs, a nurse from Denver, rented a room in the Petworth area to spend a two-week vacation seeing the sights of Washington.”


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96 Comment

  • God damn Washington……so sad.

  • There’s got to be much more to this story. 6 pm on a Tuesday?

    • Why must there be much more to the story? Is a random crime in Petworth that unbelievable?

      • Not unbelieveable, but highly unusual. Even for a “random” crime, this does strike me as odd. I’m inclined to think there is something more to this story than just wrong time, wrong place type of thing.

        • What facts, incomplete as they are, cause you to believe that this was not a random crime?

          • I wondered too whether there was more to the story. I was thinking it’s unusual to have a man beaten to death by random strangers during daylight hours. People get beaten up (and live), stabbed, shot, etc., but not generally beaten to death. Seems different than the usual robbery MO we’ve been seeing a lot. But, having said that, there was the case a few years back of the man in upper NW (I think) who was hit in the head in a robbery and later died because of some negligence on the part of EMS on timely treating his head wound.

            To theheights, what facts make you think it was random?

            In any case, it’s really sad and I feel for his family.

          • I agree with gdopplerxt. I live in the neighborhood, and there is just something that seems fishy about this. You don’t need to have all the facts to have a gut feeling about something. Crime in this neighborhood is rarely random…mostly, it’s young kids sticking it to other young kids.

          • In all honesty, I don’t know if it was random or not. I don’t think there are enough facts to make a proper determination. But the rush by some to characterize this as “not random” certainly looks like a defense of their neighborhood rather than a good-faith analysis of the admittedly few facts.

          • Hey theheights, no one is claiming to have done a “good-faith analysis”. It wouldn’t make much sense anyway given the few facts available (as you’ve pointed out.) My “rush” to think it is non-random is mostly based on the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of beating deaths that I hear about, and the time seems strange for such a violent crime.

            You seem very eager to prove to us that our city is way more dangerous than we want to believe. What’s your angle?

          • Maybe it was a hate crime.

          • I don’t have an angle, unlike the “it can’t be a random crime because I live in the neighborhood and I don’t want to believe that random crimes could happen in my neighborhood” contingent.

          • I haven’t seen anyone saying they don’t believe random crimes take place in their neighborhood. I’m saying when they do take place they rarely (as far as I am aware) take the form of an out-of-town tourist being beaten to death in an alley of a residential area during the daylight.

          • Yeah, Petworth alleys are strangers to violence. And the facts reported in no way make this crime “strange” other than the fact that it happened to one of the few (soon to be fewer) tourists in the neighborhood.

          • Theheights, I agree with you and it seems as if people are being really accusatory and jumping down your throat. If people aren’t claiming to have done a good faith analysis, apparently they are just jumping to conclusions based on their gut. (Although, based on comments like, “I think it wasn’t random because…,” it seems more like an attempt at a good faith analysis from most people.) I don’t think you seem particularly interested in proving the city is super dangerous, you simply mentioned that this might be random.

            The few facts available make me think it was in fact random (though, of course I’m admitting it might not be). A man who had used airbnb before to travel (so traveling and staying in a non-hotel wasn’t unusual for him) was struck in the head and died as a result of the blow to the head. Some comments seem to imply this was an extended beating, but all of the stories I’m reading make it seem as if it was just a few blows to the head that hit him in just the wrong way-not all that unusual for an attempted robbery, particularly if he resisted. Then again, I’m a believer in occam’s razor. That this was a robbery gone bad seems to be the simplest explanation to me.

          • KS,

            I think you’re probably right. The key to the vitriol was revealed, presumably inadvertently, when one of the posters above accused me of being “very eager to prove to us that our city is way more dangerous than we want to believe.” Few on this blog want to believe that the dangerous neighborhoods they chose in which to invest are, in fact, dangerous. Facts or theories that undermine their comfortable illusions are usually disregarded.

          • So you do have an angle.

          • Thank you, drsnacks. I was hoping I would not be the only one to notice that.

          • You got me. If an “angle” is seeing a set of facts and thinking, “this looks like it probably was a random crime,” I have an “angle.” Now that your straw man has served its purpose, maybe you can explain what seems strange about a robbery gone bad in a Petworth alley, a request that I made above and all of the Petwoerh apologists ignored.

          • If we knew it was just a robbery gone bad, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, would we?

          • Your evasion of the question speaks volumes…

          • This is so sad and so tragic – for the victims, the loved ones, the neighborhood and the city. Godspeed to those still recovering and condolences to the family and friends of Dederichs.

            I do tend to agree with theheights (and KS) in this particular line of thinking in this PoP thread. I would like to know what the agenda or mission of theheights is (or that some people think exists) because I think theheights raises reasonable questions and points. It is, for sure, an emotionally-charged topic. While local neighborhood residents may generally feel good or safe in the neighborhood, which is great – that feeling or sense doesn’t necessarily preclude tragic and senseless events from happening. Comments from neighborhood residents specifically, while legitimate, would be hard to be neutral and it would be harder for me to believe to be agenda-free.

          • Jeez, I didn’t think that was going to be such a big deal or so hard to understand.

            theheights, I gave you my responses to your questions in earlier posts. If they are not sufficiently intelligent or analytical for you then I am sorry but I posted what I thought, I said what I had to say.

            And the “angle” to which I referred is this. theheights has posted in this page that our neighborhoods are dangerous places. More dangerous than we will admit. Even more than that, we are intentionally fooling ourselves about our safety in order to protect “comfortable illusions”. But even further, anyone (like me) who thought this horrific crime seemed like it wasn’t random is a perfect example of this. This seems like an awfully strong position to take based on this one homicide, so I asked my “angle” question to see if there was more to it. After that it was mainly the fact that theheights claimed to have been subjected to (non-existent) vitriol while simultaneously making really judgmental statements about others that kept me interested.

        • Go ahead and speculate. People so quickly jumped to the conclusion that George Zimmerman is a racist murderer, and that speculation is widely accepted. Have at it. Speculating without the facts is what America does best in this time and age.

    • If it wasn’t for the fact that the guy was renting a place to stay in the neighborhood, I would agree that it would be strange for a tourist to find himself in Petworth.

      • You might be surprised. I live near the Soldier’s Home and see the white-sneakered variety tromping up from the metro about once a week during the summer months. It’s not a really well known destination, but it definitely attracts some tourists here and there.

  • So sorry to hear about this, and condolences to his family and friends. So sad.

  • I wonder how much warning is given tourists about crime when renting rooms outside of the “tourist zone” donwtown.

    • So maybe the TEA Party warning about avoiding the Green Line wasn’t such a silly thing after all!

      • The Tea Party warned people to avoid the Green Line? That’s absolutely hilarious. We don’t want their kind on our train anyway :)

        • What an open-minded and non-prejudicial statement! I applaud your political correctness.

          • Given that the Tea Party is a self-selected group, it’s not like it’s unreasonable to be negative toward them. I myself don’t like unabashed sexists. Unabashed sexists are of course not homogenous, and many of them probably have many wonderful traits. But I don’t like them, and I’d love for them to stay off the red line (the line I live near).

            And, while I’m writing about it, I’d like Tea Partiers to stay off the redline too. There’s a lot of overlap between them and unabashed sexists.

        • Maybe if we had some Tea Party-like accountability in government instead of the sorry left-wing excuse we have today, everyday hate crimes in the city wouldn’t be tolerated.

          • Yup, we totally have enough information to definitively call this a hate crime. In no way is that jumping to conclusions without enough information. It isn’t like we should wait until more information becomes available before we call it a hate crime.

            Oh wait…two more people were attacked by this thug? Both black, you say? Well, it’s must be one of those Asian thugs who hates blacks and whites.

  • My goodness! How sad….

  • May comfort and peace be brought to the victim’s family, and justice brought to those who did this.

  • Terrible tragedy. My condolences to his family.

  • And here I thought this was one of the safer parts of Petworth. Horrible events like this can have a lasting effect on people’s perception of the neighborhood.

    • And that’s the real tragedy here.

      • To many on this blog, it is.

        • Gee whiz, you really are on a mission, aren’t you? How well do you know Petworth, and how well do you know that specific part of Petworth? I live in the neighborhood, and I’m not gonna claim that it’s as safe as some parts of the city, but neither my wife nor I (and I think I can safely say the same for my neighbors) have felt in danger in the three years I have lived here, and we walk around a LOT. All the crime I have been aware of has been limited to young thugs dealing with other young thugs, and even that is on the decline. What’s unique about Petworth (unlike, say, Columbia Heights), is that everyone recognizes each other, and random muggings and the like are rare.

          • The immediate gut reaction among so many on this thread that there had to be more to the story (implying a certain desperation that the crime not be random so, in the words of the poster above, there would be no “lasting effect on people’s perception of the neighborhood”). I just don’t like the thinly-veiled blame put on the victim to protect the neighborhood’s reputation. As for your feelings of safety, I’m happy that you feel that way, but anyone’s personal feeling of safety are relevant only to them and are not an objective measure.

          • Prince Of Petworth

            Apparently there is a lot more to this story. There is a MPD briefing soon, at which time more info should be known. As soon as they send it out I’ll post.

          • If the “more to the story” is what NBC is reporting, it’s pretty bad.

          • Why bag on CH? Lived here for 7 years & know many of my neighbors. Sounds like you’re just bitter b/c people are commenting (negatively) about where you live. If you’re proud of your neighborhood, then act like it – don’t talk bad about other areas & try to shift the focus. You embarrass yourself when you do that.

        • You think people’s biggest concern is protecting the image of the neighborhood? I don’t see that in this thread at all. What is your obsession with the neighborhood, exactly? I don’t get it. Do you even live near here?

          • Hello? Please go back & look at your posting. All you posted about was the image of YOUR neighborhood. Seems like your MO is to question those that post something contrary to you about how well they know the neighborhood or if they live there? Might I suggest you get to know ALL your neighbors, including the “young thugs” you mentioned. You may come to realize that not all of them are actually “thugs.” Why do i get the impression that you side with George Zimmerman?

  • I live at 14th and emerson … my street seems great. This is terrible, and is one more atrocity coming from only 4 blocks away from me. Why does it seems like half the petworth shootings come from near 9th and emerson?

    • it does seem like most incidents have this general area as their epicenter. i know the only corner in the area that ever seems slightly sketcy to me is at Emerson and 7th and that’s because there are always a lot of people hanging around inside and outside of a certain yard and they seem to enjoy cat calling and saying offensive things. I love this neighborhood but, as with most areas of this city, there are still pockets of bad

      • You know the neighborhood crew knows who did this. MPD will figure it out. Wonder if there is a DYRS house near there too? Godleski mess continues. Someone should sue DC for failure to control known violent offenders, and for tolerating organized crime and guns.

        Time for the Peace March through our Alleys! If the cops won’t patrol them, we should.

      • This is awful, I feel so sorry about this for the man and his family. We live at the 600 Block of Emerson. People used to hang out at 7th and Emerson, but they don’t anymore. Take a drive through any night and you’ll see what I mean – it’s pretty quiet and peaceful now.

  • This is a “safe” part of town all things considered. I don’t know how much it would do to give tourists a warning about staying outside the “tourist zones” downtown since it seems like the majority of tourists actually come in from areas outside the “tourist zone” and crime occurs all around this city. This is just particularly sad and scary for the seemingly blatant nature of it and I’m very sad for this poor man and his friends and family, and for our neighborhood.

    • Safety is a relative term, but the MPD crime statistics for that neighborhood do not paint the picture of a safe neighborhood. And this “crime happens all over the city” mantra is flawed but will never die because it gives comfort to those in high crime neighborhoods that everyone lives with the dangers they do. The facts,however, are very different. Crime levels are not uniform across the city and until residents demand safer streets instead of shrugging their shoulders and assuming that high crime levels are an inevitable feature of city living, things will not improve.

      • @theheights and @dcmer610 – as the ANC for this area, and someone that’s lived in Petworth for 8 years, I can say that it is a pretty “safe” area comapared to other parts

  • This makes me want to vomit. I am so hurt and embarrassed for my city. My heart breaks for his friends and family and I sincerely hope (as challenging as it will be) his attacker is brought to justice. This is one of the rare times I am in favour of a public flogging.

  • F-ing punks. Why do the authorities just write off our neighborhood and tolerate behavior they wouldn’t put up with in Georgetown or Van Ness (i.e. drug houses never busted, known criminals walking free?) And keep sending homicidal juveniles back home where they can commit more crimes instead of charging them as adults? It’s like they expect us to put up with this kind of behavior. I ain’t having it.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Just let them walk free, hide their identities, tolerate their control of drug turf. Someone needs to be held accountable.

    • You’re absolutely right, but the authorities only do what the citizens demand. One reason that these things don’t happen as often in Upper NW is because the residents there expect almost total safety and flip out when that expectation is not met. While that might be unrealistic for some parts of PoPville, if high crime numbers translated into more turnover on the city council, the police would have a lot more motivation to do what you want done.

  • Maybe the Dederichs family could join in the Godleski family lawsuit and make this a class action.

  • Condolences to his family of course, like any murder victim, BUT I too just question the circumstances here. I mean, it could be as innocent as the story described, and no one deserves to be murdered, but I find it difficult to comprehend that a 66 year old “tourist” would find himself staying in Petworth. Yes, there is couchsurfing and all, but I figure thats pretty well left to the kids. Who knows. RIP.

    • He rented a room for 2 weeks – that’s a lot cheaper than staying in some tourist hotel (even a fleabag hotel) for 2 weeks. Poor guy likely saved up for vacation, thought he’d cut costs by renting a room, and ran across some of out less than desirable residents. Not sure what about that suggests anything beyond deplorable street crime.

      Also, the body was found at 6 pm – I’ve not seen anything about when the crime took place. Might it have been the night before?

    • At what age do you outgrow an interest in visiting interesting cities and staying in neighborhoods outside the tourist center? I want to make sure I stay on the right side of that one. Thanks.

      • To Anonymous 1:42,

        ???

        I guess I am not understanding what your point is here?

        • I was replying to Michael’s assertion that he “[found] it difficult to comprehend that a 66 year old “tourist” would find himself staying in Petworth.”

          I don’t see what’s so difficult to comprehend about that.

          • “At what age do you outgrow an interest in visiting interesting cities and staying in neighborhoods outside the tourist center?” by itself read like a referential comment. It makes much more sense, given the context is in reply to Michael’s comment. Thanks for clarifying.

    • He was using airbnb, a service he’d used before to visit other cities. He was a retired nurse, probably someone without a ton of disposable income, but he still wanted to travel. This information was easy to find by reading one additional article on the story, so it’s not really a “who knows” situation as to why he was staying there.

    • He was using AirBnB in which you can rent anything from a couch to an entire castle so it is not just a young person thing at all. Prices tend to be really good and in general the reviews and descriptions reliable. Coincidentally, like this gentleman, I recently used Airbnb to rent a place while I was visiting Istanbul.
      http://homicidewatch.org/2012/04/25/nw-dc-trauma-victim-identified-as-gary-dederichs-of-denver-colo/

      • If this Petworth house/room was listed on AirBnb, I am very interested in seeing how the surrounding neighborhood was described (if at all).

    • Wth, are you kidding? You question the circumstances because you’re unaware that people in this world are actually interested in staying someplace affordable and in a residential area? Yes, clearly this poor man who had an interest in seeing the world is guilty of instigating his own murder by not staying at a hotel by the mall.

      • Yeah, I guess he should have stayed out Petworth and stuck to the safe areas – the “tourist zones” as someone upthread put it…

        • The “tourist zone” is really expensive – and for 2 weeks. Now how much do you think that vacation would cost? Some would have no problem with the amount, for sure, and some would save and save and save up for it. Alas, he probably thought what seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do would be to find a place outside of the tourist center but with easy access. I would imagine that the add stated that it was near to metro line, so easy access to the city’s tourist or entertainment points.

      • Yes, honestly, I am questioning that. There are exceptions to every rule, but think about it– what 66 year old that you know is technically savvy enough to figure all this out? I’m sorry that I don’t have time to investigate every facet of this story– I read the article that PoP linked, and it offered very little info about why a “tourist” was in petworth. This site is ridiculous about chastising tourists if they’re generally within a 1 mile radius of he washington monument, but then as soon as they step north of the convention center, everything they do is defensible.

        And still, this sounds like a weird story. Regardless of if he was a tourist or not, completely random murders do seem further and further far between in NW

  • I think the strangest part of all this is that I’m learning about it from PoP. And, while I love PoP, where is this story in the NEWS?! I just did a search for it, and only the local NBC affiliate had the briefest mention of it, posted to their site at 6:00 this morning.

    • There are lots of crimes, homicides included, that never make it onto the local news. If you want to hear about stuff like this sign up for your neighborhood/MPD listserve, or check sites like Homicide Watch DC.

    • Google search for “Gary Dederichs” shows a bunch of news sites have picked up the story.

    • This story was on the news yesterday, at least on our local nbc station, and all over it today both online and on tv.

    • Where are you going to get your news? This was the top story on the 11 o’clock NBC news last night and was prominently featured on FOX5 this morning. Was also in both the print edition of the Post and on their website this morning? My question is why it took PoP nearly 48 hours to let us know. We usually hear about every minor crime within minutes of when it occurs. A murder of a tourist is the definition of news since it is far from the norm.

  • this is just so, so sad. this poor guy comes to DC for a vacation, obviously been planning it for a while since he rented a house, and then this happens. Makes me sick…I f*ing hate these thugs. And the people who watch this kind of stuff happen and sit there filming it while laughing. Goddam scum.

  • From a HuffPo article:

    “Just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary Dederichs was found unconscious and suffering from apparent head trauma in an alley near the apartment he was renting for his two-week visit to the nation’s capital. Dederichs, whose head was resting on a fanny pack when he was discovered, was declared dead by a member of D.C.’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

    Sounds like Mr. Dederichs may have been the victim of another aggravated assault/robbery and the resulting blow to the head did him in.

    He could have stuck out wearing a fanny pack and perhaps acting like he wasn’t familiar with the area. But in a safe neighborhood, you don’t need to worry about things like that… because the neighborhood is safe.

  • Unfortunately this seems to happen every once in a while. Remember when the British tourist got killed in Georgetown and his girlfriend sexually assaulted? That was 2009 or 2010 I think? Sad.

  • I find it frustrating that the crime statistics don’t show where the convicted criminals reside. In other words, there’s no way to use the data to figure out if there are areas that are breeding grounds for crime. Where are these people coming from? Do they live in the District? Are they driving in from VA or MD? Are they randomly spread out across the metro area or are they residing in a few small sections. Without this information, how can you address the issues that are giving rise to the crime?

  • Fvck: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Tourist-Murder-Possibly-Linked-to-Other-Attacks-149099925.html

    I know a guy who was hit in the head with a pipe or hammer or something of that sort at Georgia & Emerson about 2 years ago, and lost his sight in his left eye as a result. Not surprisingly, he does not remember the attack well, but reported that somebody came up from behind him, said something to get him to turn around, and bashed him in the head with the hammer or pipe or whatever as he was turning around.

  • Very sad…I would not feel that this is a “high risk” area – particularly during the day. I run by there daily, during the day, on Illinois and that is not an area I’d worry about. Decatur and Emerson aren’t great but there are much sketchier blocks. I dunno, really sad. Sounds like a robbery with resistance gone bad.

  • May his assailant was on da boat. People are crazy on that crud.

  • Seven gunshots near my block last Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM. (New Hampshire and Gallatin) Someone got shot and I couldn’t find a word about it in the news (or here). Seriously-a 3 PM shooting!

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