News Release, States Attorney’s Office for Charles County
On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, Charles County Circuit Court Judge H. James West sentenced Janeal Jerome Thompson, 27 of Bryans Road, to 65 years for the First-Degree Murder of Ronarj Henderson and related charges. Thompson received an additional 12 years in prison for violating probation in two unrelated cases and 1 year in prison for a separate Possession of Heroin charge.
On August 5, 2019, after a 6-day trial in front of a Charles County jury, Thompson entered a guilty plea in Charles County Circuit Court to the aforementioned charges before the jury announced their verdict.
On November 2, 2018, detectives with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation of the victim’s murder after receiving a report that he was possibly shot and killed by Thompson a few days prior. It was also reported that Thompson’s girlfriend at the time, co-defendant Sarah Elizabeth Defilippo and co-defendant Steven Tyler Danielson were present during the murder.
The investigation revealed that during the evening hours of October 27, 2018, Thompson aggressively put his hand on Defilippo’s face in the presence of the victim. When the victim and defendants returned to Thompson’s home later that evening, the victim told Defilippo that she deserved to be treated better. Defilippo then went to sleep inside of the residence, while Thompson, Danielson, and the victim slept in a vehicle outside. The following morning, Defilippo entered the vehicle with the three men and drove to a gas station. The victim was asleep in the front passenger seat of the vehicle at the time. Thompson became angry after Defilippo disclosed the comments the victim made the prior night. During the drive, Thompson, who was seated directly behind the victim, produced a handgun and shot the victim in the head while he was still sleeping. Thompson then threw a jacket over the victim’s body while Defilippo continued to drive.
Defilippo was directed by Thompson to pick up co-defendant Eric Nolan Washington, who helped Thompson dispose of the victim’s body in a heavily wooded area of Smith Point Road in Nanjemoy. Before leaving, Thompson took the victim’s shoes, cell phone, and wallet. The victim was missing for several days before his murder was reported by a family member of Defilippo.
Thompson and Defilippo were apprehended together on November 2, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia. Defilippo confessed to witnessing Thompson kill the victim, which was corroborated by extensive evidence, including DNA evidence found on the gun and in the vehicle.
Defilippo, Danielson, and Washington previously entered guilty pleas in Charles County Circuit Court to Accessory After the Fact.
Prior to Thompson’s sentencing, Defilippo and Danielson received 5 years of supervised probation. Washington received 3 years in prison.
During Thompson’s sentencing, Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Pettersen addressed the judge, “The defendant has to be held accountable for his actions. He has a history of violence. He’s a danger to the community. – He killed a man while he was sleeping. He should not be in the community with such violent tendencies; he killed a man who was supposed to be his friend.”
Before sentencing Thompson, Judge H. James West stated, “This is a sad event with four young people doing drugs in a car. – I’ve yet to see, until this case, someone shot while they’re asleep. The victim was shot for really no reason. This was beyond a murder – this was an execution.”