Puzzles Leading to More Questions
For those new to this site, welcome. We ask your help so we may learn what precisely happened to Robert Wone, and genuinely welcome all comments and ideas.
As highlighted last post, we approach this task assuming the innocence of the defendants. They claim no involvement whatsoever in Mr. Wone’s brutal murder; we presume no different. However, we do have great trouble matching these claims with what evidence has been made public. Of course, it’s our goal – through this blog and through the criminal proceedings – to get greater access to that evidence. In the meantime, we work with what we have, and what we can learn.
Briefly: the defendant’s “intruder theory” presents one of those hard-to-match claims vs. evidence. Earlier we discussed the confused, and compressed, time line. Two more difficulties with the “intruder theory” now:
The cleaned scene. As spelled out in the affidavit bringing conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice charges against Zaborsky, Price and Ward (see “Legal Documents” tab, Oct. 27 indictment, page 3,) the guest room was scrubbed of blood, Mr. Wone’s body was cleaned and re-dressed, the bed sheets were changed, and a knife not used in the murder was retrieved and blood was applied to it from a towel containing Mr. Wone’s blood. Worse, it seems necessary from prior statements and the first reports of the EMTs that the original bloody sheets were washed and disposed of (note the tracker dogs targeting of scent), the actual murder weapon disposed of, potentially any drugs, syringes and sex toys employed disposed (although the FBI has been silent on what they did and didn’t find in this area) and – critically – all those working to scrub the scene of blood and evidence must have washed and cleaned themselves…or fled the scene. Anyone care to guess how much time all that would take?
A random intruder would not have the ability to accomplish this, as they would not have known what’s where in the house, and how to dispose of it all. A focused intruder (motive is murky here, but some have postulated targeted killing given Mr. Wone’s employ with RFA*) would not have had the time to do this – operating alone. Again: we need to hear a much clearer explanation from the defendants about how the victim and the murder setting were found in the unnatural condition that it was. To date, that explanation has not been offered.
The physical setting. 1509 Swann has a basement unit but not a full English basement apartment – which legally requires two separate entrances (front and back) – the front it doesn’t have. Long time tenant Sarah Morgan lived in the basement at Swann, and prior with Mr. Price and Mr. Zaborsky at their Capitol Hill house. Such a relationship seems less tenant and more house-mate. Is it reasonable that a female house-mate would be asked, or make common practice, of using the poorly lit, little trafficked back alley gate to enter (as the defendants allude in their statements) thus perhaps leaving the back door unlocked? Or more likely she would use the brightly lit, safer front door entrance, which all defendants admit was locked throughout? And if she did use the back entrance, why would she have bothered with the main-house door (leaving an opening for the intruder), rather than just using her gated basement door? Fine questions – had Sarah Morgan even been home that night. She wasn’t.
Still, perhaps the intruder theory could work here: the defendant’s argue that their hearing a door chime after going to bed suggests someone entered the back. In statements to police both Joe and Dylan make reference to Joe opening the back door during their kitchen chat, leaving open the possibility he failed to lock it. A curious detail to recall, but not improbable.
However the back door is only one of several gated obstacles. 1509 is actually triple gated and locked – once with a metal rolling car gate, once more with a wooden fence and latching door of (approx.) some 8 or 9 feet, and finally by the main house door. That’s three barriers to overcome within a short period of time, without making a sound, without leaving signs of intrusion (again, see original Ward affidavit) and all without drawing the attention of neighbors…or Mr. Ward, whose room overlooked the back. Again we ask: does it make any sense that even if an intruder could surmount these obstacles in and out again that they would do so only to commit a senseless murder rather than taking items of value? A search of DC crime records suggests this just doesn’t happen. (More on this later.)
For the moment, we take the defendant’s pleas of innocence as honest and true statements. But the “intruder theory” they offer does not hold water on several fronts. We hope in the coming days and weeks they are able to offer greater clarity as to events of that night, and how those events hold up against the few facts that are known about this murder. And if anyone has any greater insight, please post a reply or contact the editors.
*Several commenters have posted conspiracy theories involving Mr. Wone, Radio Free Asia (RFA), and various governments and other secretive groups. We will address these ideas later.
posted by Doug