A 30-year-old Germantown man faces up to 30 years in prison for killing his girlfriend and setting her car on fire back in March of 2018.
“I am not a violent individual,” said Lunningham to the judge at his bond hearing back in March of 2018. He made that statement moments after the prosecutor finished telling the court that Lunningham was accused of stabbing a woman 30 times, leaving her body in the car for at least two or three days before finally setting the car on fire in a wooded area near a middle school in an effort to cover up his crime.
Last week, a jury found Stephan Leroy H. Lunningham, 30, of the 18800 block of Harmony Woods Lane in Germantown, guilty of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree arson in the stabbing death of his girlfriend, 49-year-old Angela Fay Thomas of Grosvenor Place in North Bethesda. He was originally charged with first-degree murder.
Thomas’ body was found in the back seat of her burning black Honda Accord at 4:22 am on March 14, 2018, in the13700 block of Wisteria Drive, directly across from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
The State’s Attorney countered that argument by saying Lunningham stabbed Thomas 30 times in the back, neck, and chest and drove around with her dead body in the car for a day or two before setting it on fire.
Angela Thomas had three adult children and worked as a cosmetologist, said her brother Marshall Thomas after the bond hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court in 2018.
According to police, Lunningham admitted to stabbing Thomas and setting the car on fire, after the two got into an argument. The vehicle was discovered on a service road used to gain access to the CSX railroad tracks which run parallel with Wisteria Drive in that area. The burned vehicle was sitting on the access road low portion of the ravine.
Thomas was last seen alive on Sunday afternoon, March 11, 2018, when Thomas was seen leaving the Germantown apartment of a friend with Lunningham, according to court documents. Lunningham was to drive Thomas, in her car, to another friend’s apartment to return a cellphone which Thomas had borrowed, and then to her apartment in North Bethesda to get a change of clothes, before coming back to the Germantown apartment. According to court documents, Lunningham was to drive because Thomas was “in no mental condition to drive a vehicle safely” when she left the apartment.
Thomas never made it to the friend’s apartment to return the cell phone, according to investigators.
Early the next morning at 4:08 am a black Honda Accord, which investigators believe was Thomas’ was captured on ATM security camera with a single occupant, a black male with dreadlocks. At 4:30 am, Lunningham appeared at the Germantown apartment of Thomas’ friend and inquired, where Angela was, according to court documents.
The charging documents say that almost 24 hours later, Lunningham was observed with a red gas can purchasing $2.60 worth of gasoline at the 7-Eleven/Sunoco at 18701 Liberty Mill Road in Germantown. Twenty minutes later, firefighters were called to Wisteria Drive and located the burning Honda with Thomas’ body in the back seat.
Police were called to the scene, and Major Crimes detectives and fire investigators from the Montgomery County Office of Fire and Explosive Investigations began to conduct a joint vehicle fire and death investigation.
Although Lunningham was charged with First-Degree Murder, the jury found that Voluntary Manslaughter was the more appropriate charge. The jury believed the stabbing to be a crime committed in the heat of the moment during a passionate argument.
“We hope for a sentence commensurate with the crime he has committed. We have to accept the jury’s decision,” said Korionoff.
Lunningham faces a 10-year maximum sentence for the voluntary manslaughter charge, and a 20-year maximum sentence for the arson charge, according to Ramon Korionoff with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. A sentencing date is to be determined, but Korionoff said it would likely be in the Fall of 2019.
Top: Stephan Lunningham has been found guilty of Germantown of voluntary manslaughter and arson after he stabbed Angela Thomas 30 times, killing her and later tried to burn the body by setting her car on fire.
Next: Stephan Leroy Harris Lunningham, 30, of Harmony Woods Lane in Germantown. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: Montgomery County Police closed down Wisteria Drive in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School the morning of the fire and the subsequent discovery of the body of Angela Fay Thomas in the burned car.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.