The trio reportedly bonded over skateboarding and a fascination with Japanese weaponry.
They’d met while attending high school at McKinley Tech and had been thick as thieves ever since.
“Jeffrey was a caring person, would help anybody, loved his family, loved his friends.”
“Delano was quiet.. kinda withdrawn, stayed to himself mostly. Leon was the wild crazy one. If he didn’t get his way, he’d be like a little kid throwing a tantrum.”, said Jeffrey Neal's mother, Denise Washington.
The boys were so close that she considered Delano and Leon to be part of her own family.
So, when Jeffrey asked his mom if they could all move into a house his family owned on 8th street Northwest, she complied, saying it seemed like a good idea at the time.
“We could keep a closer eye on the boys.”, said Denise.
However, it wouldn’t take long for the bachelor pad, to turn into the ‘Wolf’s Den’, with a reputation for late night parties, marijuana use, and an ever revolving door of girls circulating in and out of the house.
Denise said, “It started getting a little out of control.”
And to top things off, no one was paying the bills.
Kelechi Enwereji is a mutual friend of the wolf pack who said, “From what I was seeing in the house, it was something bound to happen.”
He said that he advised Jeffrey to handle the situation, but things had become so bad that Leon would suffer a mental breakdown, be hospitalized and diagnosed with psychosis.
When he returned to the house, Jeffery said that Leon was showing bizarre behavior, walking around naked, and becoming violent.
It wouldn’t be long before the tensions turned into full blown fist fights.
According to Jeffery’s mother, Leon attacked him one night while he was sleeping and days later, pulled a knife on him.
Denise said, “He got cut and almost cut off part of his hand and I had to take him to the hospital to get stitches.”
Shortly thereafter, Delano Wingfield went missing.
“My brother and my son told me that there had been notes put up on the door saying ‘please give us a call.’ ‘Have you seen Delano?’’, said Denise.
Weeks later, Delano’s grandmother would receive a text message from him saying that he was going to Europe, but this raised suspicions, after all, Delano had no money.
His grandmother said she would file a missing person’s report he didn’t turn up in the next few days.
Then, the house goes quiet, raising even more questions and prompting Jeffrey’s uncles to check on the house where they would make a grizzly discovery.
On the morning of June 12, 2014, the body of Leon Young was found stuffed in the attic, naked with a bag covering his head.
He was beaten to death with a hammer.
“I was just dumbfounded. So, they asked me to come down to the police station with my son, and that’s what I did.”, said Jeffrey's mother, Denise.
Once in the hands of DC Police, Jeffery told them to get out their notepads, because he had a story to tell.
“So I’m your guy basically.”, said Jeffrey Neal to detectives, confessing to police that he, in fact, was Neal Young’s killer.
“I hit him with the hammer and he didn’t go down with the first blow, but the first blow did make him bleed. Then I hit again and then he fell right on this floor.
If you check his room, you should see blood splatter.”, explained Jeffrey.
When detectives asked him if he was sure that he had only struck Leon twice with the hammer, Jeffrey replied, “Yea, I’m pretty sure.”
He then admitted to detectives that he took Leon’s body up to the attic and placed a plastic bag over his head.
It would appear to be an easy enough confession to draw out of Jeffery until he said, “I know I’m going to jail for this, but I’m kinda hoping that my sentence won’t be too bad because of self-defense.”
Jeffrey, told detectives that it was either kill or be killed.
Jeffrey began explaining the scenario saying, “He was standing in front of the window, looking out the window at his car with his knife in his hand. I walked in his room, asked him if he was alright, and he attacked me with the knife. I backed up, but he got my hand a little bit, not much… on my thumb and my finger. He continued to attack me with the knife and as I backed up I reached on the table. There was a hammer on the table and I swung it at him and hit him in the head.”
Followed by a chilling confession from Leon, according to Jeffery who said, “He said to me, “I killed Delano”, he didn’t say anything else to me except, “I killed Delano.”
Given, this new revelation, detectives released Jeffery and went back to the house, this time with cadaver dogs, leading to another chilling discovery.
The body of Delano Wingfield was found buried in a shallow grave behind the house, also naked, with nothing but socks on. He had also beaten to death with a hammer.
Learning this put Jeffery’s mother in a state of shock..
“I had to question myself and wonder about my son.”, she said.
Denise said, “He said, Ma, I did not kill Delano. He said, I did kill Leon Young, but Leon was trying to kill me.”
Police would find two different hammers at the house, one with Jeffery and Leon’s blood on it and the other with only Delano’s blood.
However, Delano’s blood is found all over Jeffrey’s room.
The similar manner in which both Leon and Delano were killed was enough to charge Jeffery with both murders.
Still, police had no motive, but Jeffery would reveal the most shocking twist; a secret that few knew about.
“It was a love triangle gone wrong.”, said Denise.
Jeffery confessed that the trio had been lovers for years, but trouble started to brew when Jeffery switched his affections from Leon to Delano, causing Leon to snap.
Jeffery’s mother said she knew of the tryst and warned her son to be careful.
“He was 21, that was his love affair, not mines," she said, "but I also instructed him, ‘You need to use caution. You’re treading on weird water.”
Jeffery was convicted and sentenced to 60 years behind bars in July 2017.
During the trial, prosecutors pointed to inconsistencies in his story.
Jeffery reportedly told detectives that he’d left a pair of socks on Leon’s body, however, It was Delano’s body that had on a pair of socks.
He had also told police that he’d only struck Leon twice in the head with a hammer, but court records indicate Leon was hit 26 times.
When asked from his prison cell if he is a monster, Jeffery said, “I damn sure don’t feel like one.”
He said that he was fearful for his life.
“Terrified… especially considering the stab wound that he had given me a year and a half back.”, said Jeffrey.
Though all three were friends at one time, Neal says he only loved one of the victims.
“I was in love with Leon… I was never in love with Delano.”, he explained.
While he said that he deserves to be locked up, he doesn’t quite agree with the terms.
“I feel like my actions could’ve been different.", said Jeffrey, "I don’t feel like I should be behind bars for first degree murder.”
Convinced of her son’s innocence, Denise says she’s going to continue to fight for Jeffery’s release.
“None of my son DNA was on Delano body, ground, or the instrument that took Delano Wingfield’s life.I’m going to do everything I can to help my son.”, said Denise.
Jeffrey maintains that he is innocent in the killing of Delano Wingfield and is hoping for a new trial that will pay closer attention to the DNA evidence.