The man accused of murdering a popular trainer with a hatchet in a Belle Meade gym is among hundreds of criminals who have escaped from a D.C. halfway house in the past three years, a News4 I-Team investigation found.
Police are looking for the man accused of fatally stabbing his former supervisor at a gym near Belle Meade on Monday morning.
Domenic Micheli is charged with the brutal murder of Joel Paavola, a father of five, who Micheli once worked for.
Before the murders, Micheli was sentenced to live at Hope Village, a halfway house in Washington DC.
At some point, Micheli walked away from Hope Village and never returned.
Weeks later, Micheli is accused of showing up at Paavola’s gym and murdering him.
A News4 I-team investigation, in partnership with NBC Washington, uncovered that records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons show on average, 100 people have escaped from Hope Village in each of the last three years.
It is unclear when Micheli escaped if Hope Village, or the D.C. Department of Correction, alerted law enforcement in Tennessee to be on the lookout.
Domenic Micheli, accused of murdering Joel Paavola on Monday morning at Balance Training on Monday, admitted to the murder during an interview with detectives, Metro Police reported in a news release on Wednesday.
“They did not keep appropriate track of him,” said C.J. Gideon, an attorney suing Hope Village and the D.C. Department of Correction on behalf of the Paavola family. “The point here is to hold the parties accountable responsible.”
Our investigation found other families besides the Paavola’s have been impacted by escapees as well.
In 2017, Willie Sharp’s granddaughter Kerrice Lewis was murdered in Washington DC.
Our investigation found one of the three men charged in her murder had escaped from Hope Village.
“Yes I think we're owed an explanation,” Sharp said.
A spokesman for Hope Village wouldn’t agree to an interview, but sent a statement to NBC Washington, reading in part that “it takes public safety and the accountability of our returning citizens very seriously.”
A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Correction did not return our call for comment by our deadline.
Gideon said the facility has a lot to answer for.
“Hope Village has had a problem with the people placed in their surveillance in their custody for quite some time,” Gideon said.