Montgomery County Police announced this morning that they have arrested a Germantown resident in connection with the murder of a transgender woman in Montgomery Village on Thursday night.
Police arrested Rico Hector Leblond, 20, of the 12700 block of Wisteria Drive in Germantown, for the murder of 21-year-old DeAndre Smith, also known as Zella Ziona. Police say that Leblond shot Ziona in an alley between retail stores at 18312 Contour Road in Montgomery Village at about 5:49 pm on Thursday, Oct. 15. The alley separates the Montgomery Village Plaza and the Montgomery Village Crossing shopping centers.
According to MCPD spokesman Capt. Paul Starks, on Friday after speaking with family and friends, investigators are identified the victim as a transgender female. Police have learned that she identified herself as Zella Ziona.
Starks said, Leblond was arrested at about 8:00 pm on Friday evening, Oct. 16, at the Germantown Transit Center at 19945 Aircraft Drive by plain clothes police officers. Police say he was taken into custody without incident. Police said they did not know if Leblond was planning to leave the area. Leblond was found to have a knife in his possession at the time of the arrest, according to Starks. However, Starks would not comment on the whereabouts of the firearm used as a murder weapon. He could not confirm that the murder weapon had been recovered.
Starks said that investigators were able to track Leblond to the Germantown Transit Center because he was from the Germantown and they had uncovered some information about Leblond and his habits, investigators went to places where they believed they might find him. “One officer saw him,” said Starks, “He appeared to match the description and the photograph that they had. They made the approach and arrested him.”
Investigation by detectives from the Major Crimes Division lead to the identification of Rico Leblond. Investigators learned that Ziona and Leblond knew each other and had some degree of friendship prior to Ziona’s murder.
Starks said that investigators are determining whether or not to hate crime charges are going to be added to the first degree murder charge. Investigators have also not confirmed but they will not rule out that this incident was domestic violence.
Rico Leblond has been charged with first degree murder. He is being held without bond. A bond review is scheduled for Monday, October 19 at 1:00 p.m. in Rockville.
Police say Ziona was suffered from an apparent gunshot wound to her body and was transported to an area hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. As part of this investigation, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in Baltimore will conduct an autopsy.
Photo courtesy MCPD.