D.C. Woman Is Fatally Shot in Car 3 Blocks from Where Her Sister Was Killed 2 Years Ago

Harriet Sokmensuer
·2 min read

Keith Lane for The Washington Post via Getty

Police in Washington, D.C. are searching for the killer of a 23-year-old woman who was found dead in her car.

Early Friday morning, D.C. police found the body of Cyhneil Smith, 23, in a car parked on the 300 block of 37th Street SE by Fort Dupont Park, according to a police news release obtained by PEOPLE. She had been shot multiple times.

Smith was a young mother who had recently graduated from a local vocational school, Amala Lives Institute, after enrolling in 2018. Her story was featured in a 2018 column about the school by the Washington Post.

“It just rocked my spirit. My institution and I invested so much into Cyhneil," Amala Lives Institute CEO and mentor, Brandi Forte, told Fox5.

“She had accountability, she had ownership, some days she would ask, ‘Can I bring my son to class because I don’t have anyone to watch him?’...She had fortitude, she wanted to survive, she was fearless. I didn't expect her to go out like this,” Forte continued.

Smith commuted an hour on public transportation to reach the school, according to the Post.

“I need this opportunity,” she said in the Post's 2018 column. “I’m a day behind on a brighter future if I call out.” Referencing her then-infant son, PrinceCannon, she said, “It’s not even my future. It’s his future.”

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Two years ago, Smith's sister, Mecca India Tyshea Gravette, was also murdered. Like Smith, she was 23 years old. She was killed less than three blocks from where Smith was killed. Police say there's no indication the murders are related. Gravette's murder remains unsolved.

Police do not have a suspect nor a motive in Smith's death.

Police are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Smith's murder. Anyone with information about this case is urged to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099. Anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by sending a text message to 50411.