Sylvia Matthews Killed by Man Released From Years in Prison for Stalking Her: Police

A man recently released from jail allegedly killed the woman he stalked more than 20 years ago, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Neighbors of 71-year-old Sylvia Matthews called 911 at about 7:30 a.m. Friday after hearing a loud noise in her Washington, D.C. home. Someone smashed the windows of her SUV and tried to break into the basement, WRC-TV, a local news station, reported.

Later that day at around 11:30 a.m., police again responded to the home after receiving another report, according to WBNS-TV. Once they arrived, a neighbor told them they thought Matthews was being held hostage in the home.

Officers found Matthews unconscious suffering from a serious head injury, the station reported. She died from her injuries Saturday.

Police arrested 66-year-old Michael Garrett, who was at the home when they arrived, in connection to the death, according to the news station.

Garrett allegedly told police he just arrived five minutes earlier and that Matthews called him to come over due to a burglary, according to the news station.

Police also received a call at about 8:45 a.m., according to WBNS. During the second call, officers learned he was on the phone with the victim. They tried to tell him to leave Matthews alone, but he allegedly refused.

Garrett was charged with stalking and breaking into her home in January 1999. He spent more than 20 years behind bars following the arrest, according to WBNS.

Her family believes they met while Matthews was working at a pharmacist at in the pharmacy of the Old Lorton Reformatory and Garrett was an inmate, WRC-TV reported. They said they did not know him, but had heard of him.

On the day leading up to the previous arrest, Matthews reportedly heard glass breaking when she was sitting in her home. When she went to check on the disturbance, she allegedly found Garrett climbing through her bathroom window. He then allegedly chased her out of the home before being arrested, according to the news station.

Man Arrested Killing Woman Stalked
Police arrested a man for allegedly killing a woman he spent 20 years in jail for stalking. Here, police tape is seen in 2006 in Croydon, England. Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

A judge allowed him to be released in January 2021 after his counsel argued he was rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society, the station reported.

Since his release, police have responded to Matthews' home several times. Surveillance video from October allegedly showed him knocking on the door of the home and asking her to open up. Matthews told police he threatened to kill her, according to the news station. He was arrested for threats to kidnap or injure a person but prosecution was denied.

The two also got in an argument several days later. Matthews accused Garrett of putting her in a headlock and punching her in the face, as well as threatening to kill her. A report filed against him was ultimately suspended.

A relative of Matthews told WRC-TV that her family is "devastated." They said: "It's like the system failed us.

"He should not have been on the street," they told the news station.