WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — A D.C. man has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2020, after her 7-year-old son was found wandering her apartment building. However, her body has never been recovered.
Darnell Sterling, 57, will face up to forty years in prison for second-degree murder and contempt of court after the jury pronounced a guilty verdict on Oct. 3.
Metropolitan Police began investigating in July 2020 after neighbors found Olga Ooro’s 7-year-old son crying in the hallway of her apartment building. On Saturday, July 18, the boy told police he hadn’t seen his mother since she left for dinner with her boyfriend the previous Thursday, July 16.
Detectives spoke with family members, including the boy’s father, who shared custody with Ooro. All told police it was out of character for Ooro, 34, to leave the boy alone for any length of time, much less two days.
When Darnell Sterling was first interviewed, he told detectives that he met with Ooro in the early morning hours of July 17, and invited her to gamble with him in Ocean City. However, as she prepared to leave, he claimed they fought and she decided not to go with him.
From there, he claimed to have traveled to Ocean City, Maryland, where he slept in a chair on the beach. He said his cell phone was stolen that night, but he remained in Ocean City until July 18, when he returned to D.C. and bought a new phone.
Detectives seized surveillance footage of Ooro’s apartment building, which confirmed that Sterling arrived there early on July 17. Ooro met Sterling at the door, ushering him inside. But when Sterling left three hours later, video footage shows him alone — and with a black trash bag.
License plate readers on the Bay Bridge show that Sterling did travel to Ocean City on July 17 — but he returned later that night, then traveled there again on July 18, returning just a few hours later.
Surveillance footage shows that he returned to Ooro’s building in the early morning hours of July 18, before he returned to Ocean City a second time, and used Ooro’s key fob to get in. A short time later, he appeared to leave the building, pushing a cart — and in the cart, a large object, wrapped in a blue and white blanket.
Sterling was also under a stay-away order at the time from the D.C. Superior Court, as he was accused of physically abusing Ooro in April of the same year. Early in the investigation, Police Chief Peter Newsham said they were “a little concerned that there is a history of domestic violence in this case.”
The prosecution’s theory holds that Sterling killed Ooro as her son slept in the early morning hours of July 17. Then, he cleaned up the crime scene, left the building, and disposed of both of their cell phones somewhere on the way to Ocean City. He returned the next night, retrieved Ooro’s body from a hidden location and disposed of it.
While the details of Ooro’s murder — including her final resting place — may never be known for certain, the jury on Oct. 3 agreed that Sterling, beyond any reasonable doubt, was guilty of her slaying.
Sterling will be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2023.