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No closure in slaying of D.C. cop's son

Matt Zapotosky

With a D.C. police detective as his dad, Marcel Dessin seemed an unlikely candidate to become the face of an unsolved street killing.

Marcel, 22, grew up around the officers in the D.C. police department’s major narcotics unit, shooting hoops with his dad’s co-workers in their spare time. A good kid by nature, he learned early to avoid trouble and take care of himself, his dad said.

All that perhaps makes it hard to believe that Tuesday marks one full year that Marcel has been dead and one full year that his killer has remained uncharged.

Marcel Dessin. (Family photo.)

On Tuesday night, friends and family will return to the scene of Marcel’s slaying in hopes that a candelight vigil might spur those with information to come forward. Family members say they still know little more than the circumstances of what happened on Nov. 24, 2008: Marcel was leaving a nightclub on Central Avenue with some friends when a hail of gunfire ripped through his mother’s car. A bullet hit Marcel in the head, and the car crashed into a fire hydrant.

Rene Dessin, Marcel’s father and a 24-year veteran of the D.C. police, said he and a colleague in the major narcotics unit investigated the case personally for a while, interviewing witnesses and tapping street sources with knowledge of that sort of crime.

Now they’re counting on a lucky break -- perhaps, for example, like someone charged in another crime cutting a deal to provide information about this one.

“We’re waiting for someone basically either to get in trouble with the law and provide information or a source giving information that will lead to an arrest or conviction,” Dessin said. “If there’s two or more involved, they gonna talk.”

But family are also gathering tonight for another reason: they want to honor Marcel. Tanya Jones, his mother, said the vigil will almost be like a second funeral for her because she was too stricken by grief to remember the first one. She said she still cannot understand why her son, a graduate of Coolidge Senior High School who had recently accepted a security job with the Department of Homeland Security, was killed in such a senseless way.

“To me, it's like he left home one night and never came back,” Jones said. “I’m still numb. I don’t have any feelings. I don’t have sad feelings. I don’t have happy feelings. I can’t feel anything.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call (301) 772-4925. Tonight’s vigil will begin at 7:30 p.m. at 6800 Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, the same spot where the car came to rest with Marcel shot inside it.

-- Matt Zapotosky

By Matt Zapotosky  |  November 24, 2009; 5:02 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Zapotosky , The District , Unsolved  
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