Upstairs, Downstairs

The House of Morgan

What we know about Sarah Morgan and her relationship with the three Swann Street housemates is somewhat limited.  Her silence since the murder has helped ensure she remains a riddle.  We’ve been told that she was initially close to Victor Zaborsky and he may have been the one to bring her into the family.  We wrongly surmised several weeks back that Sarah lived with the threesome in their Capitol Hill house on Constitution Avenue.  Apparently that is not the case although we are able to place Dylan Ward as residing there.

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Basement unit 1509

Sarah did indeed live with at 1509, in the separate “in-law suite” basement of the townhouse.  From the virtual real estate tour featured here and here, which also features the main unit, it looked to be a one bedroom apartment common to many DC townhouses except for its entries.  Unlike traditional DC English basements, 1509’s rental unit did not have a streetside a front entrance.  Access was either through the rear entrance which goes to the back patio, or by way of the staircase seen pictured here which went to the first floor of the house.We’ve heard varying accounts of how she may have normally come and gone to her apartment, perhaps through the main house and down or into the patio area from the Swann Street alley.

This may seem a small point but two questions arise.  First, would a single woman use a dark alley as her primary entrance into the rear of the house or normally come and go through the front door?

And second, on page 8 of the original affidavit, Joe Price told the authorities that he was awakened by the sound of the security chime and thought it might be Sarah arriving home so he paid little attention to it. Price says the security system was “not engaged” at that point however.  This may conflict somewhat with the mention on page 7 of the affidavit that Morgan, W-4 in the document, told police that she notified Price earlier that she had planned to spend the night with two other friends in town, Tom and John, and left 1509 at 6:00pm the night of the murder.  She also told Price that she had set the alarm and that he indicated that was fine.

Security chimes and entrances can be examined another time, but it’s the evolution of Sarah’s relationship with the roommates that seems more interesting.  She both lived and socialized with them and as previously mentioned was especially close to Zaborsky.  Where she stayed while the house was off limits due to the investigation and search for evidence is uncertain and where she moved after the sale in 1509 isn’t clear either. But there are a few things we do know: She has lawyered up, refuses to speak publicly, and it appears her relationship with Joe, Victor and Dylan may have cooled.

A birthday party for Dylan in May of 2007, 10 months after the murder, was held at Halo, a popular P Street gay club not far from Swann Street.  The party was a bit of  a coming out party, perhaps their first “public appearance” since the murder that said to everyone that all is well.

One bystander who recognized them remembers seeing Sarah and the oddness of the encounter.  Presumably this was a chance to visit with close friends on a happy and intimate occasion.  However Sarah is recalled as appearing stiff while there, almost as if performing a perfunctory role.  More to the point, while Sarah was greeted warmly by the family, it was recalled as being just a little too showy; “Oh HI!” as they hugged in that overly animated fashion that says ‘We used to be friends, but now we just have to play nice in public.’  It’s also reported she did not stay long.

Whatever Sarah Morgan knows about 1509 Swann, it seems she is no longer part of Joe, Victor and Dylan’s inner-most circle…and that she intends to keep what she knows to herself.  For the time being.

– posted by Craig and Doug

249 comments for “Upstairs, Downstairs

  1. CDinDC
    07/31/2009 at 4:43 PM

    Just in case…….

    Main Entry: soph·o·mor·ic
    Function: adjective
    1 : conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature
    2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a sophomore

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