Aldridge murders: Gene Washington goes to grand jury

Gene Everett Washington added a capital murder charge to two counts of first degree murder in the slayings of a mother and daughter on Rugby Avenue. Photo by Hawes Spencer/ Inset photo courtesy Charlottesville Police. Gene Everett Washington added a capital murder charge to two counts of first degree murder in the slayings of a mother and daughter on Rugby Avenue. Photo by Hawes Spencer/ Inset photo courtesy Charlottesville Police.

 

Gene Everett Washington’s DNA was found on a blood-stained knife, towels and rubber gloves in a dumpster outside of his Barracks West apartment, according to evidence presented in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court June 11. The DNA also matched that of Mani Aldridge, the slain daughter of Robin Aldridge, both of whom were killed in a December double homicide.

Over 10 witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing against the accused killer of the local teacher and her daughter, and Washington learned that the prosecutor had new evidence linking him to the murders.

The dumpster also contained Robin Aldridge’s new iPhone 6, which rang when police called her phone number, as well as a pair of bloody orange and black Nikes, which Washington can be seen wearing in surveillance footage from the day of the murders and in his own Youtube videos.

Investigators obtained surveillance footage from ABC Store and 7-Eleven cameras, and a Barracks West neighbor, Aaron Alai, who had a personal camera system set up to monitor the parking lot after his car had recently been shot with a BB gun.

In Alai’s footage, a black male can be seen carrying sneakers and a plastic bag to where the dumpster is located just out of the frame. He jogs away in the same direction he originally appeared from.

Investigators say the bloody knife, towels and gloves were found in plastic bags similar to the ones seen in the video.

On the same day investigators found evidence in the dumpster, they found the Aldridge’s stolen car just feet away in a Barracks West visitor parking space.

Detective Stephen A. Carson says he was alerted that the vehicle was found and began knocking on Barracks West residents’ doors to ask for more information.

When he knocked on the door of a man whom he now identifies as Washington, he says a young, black male with an afro pick answered the door and identified himself as James. “James” held the door wide open, and Carson said when “James” saw his police badge, he slowly began closing the door until it was only open 11-12 inches.

Carson asked if Washington knew any details about the stolen car or evidence found in the dumpster and said Washington vigorously picked his hair and broke eye contact when Carson used sensitive words like “murder” or “homicide.”

Washington said he didn’t have any additional information and he would ask his mother and girlfriend, Carson said.

Investigators believed Washington brutally beat the victims, according to testimony, and after finding the slightly bent bloody knife, they suspected he stabbed the women before swaddling their bodies in sheets or cloths and setting their Rugby Avenue home on fire. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Elizabeth Killeen presented photographs of the knife.

William Tatton, a volunteer firefighter and first responder to the house fire on December 5, 2014, testified that he “saw an elderly woman’s hand resting on the stairs,” as he was searching the basement of the Aldridge’s home for victims. This was the body of Robin—the body of Mani was soon found lying next to her mother’s. Tatton’s testimony was tearful and sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom.

At the time of the arrest, two cellphones and two gold necklaces were found on Washington. Detective Blaine Cosgro testified that, after comparing serial numbers and SIM cards, he found that the phones, an iPhone 4s and and iPhone 5s, belonged to Robin and Mani, respectively.

Defense Attorney LLoyd Snook called no witnesses to the stand.

After the hearing, a friend of Robin, Katharine Hannigan said she still can’t believe “something so violent was done to someone who lived her life so peacefully,” and with all the new evidence, she is optimistic.

“I think we’re gonna get him,” Hannigan said.

Washington will appear in front of the grand jury June 15.