The Hair And The Fingerprint

Evidence That Could Support The Defense?

In the Defense’s consolidated request for discovery, they note the government failed to indicate whether elimination testing for various hairs recovered from 1509 Swann Street was conducted.  This includes a hair found on top of the sheet next to where Mr. Wone was found – a hair determined not to be that of Mr. Wone, Mr. Price,  Mr. Ward or Mr. Zaborsky.

Further, the government failed to identify one print that was located somewhere in the room where Mr. Wone was found, and that the government has verbally reported is not a print belonging to any of the four.

We know that Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward all voluntarily submitted DNA samples.  So this unidentified hair and finger print are crucial to establishing the defense’s intruder theory.

Yet, as this website discussed last week and earlier, this case has several other supporting players who had access to the 1509 Swann Street residence at the time of the murder.   Michael Price had a key and the password to the 1509 residence, his partner, Louis Hinton, was registered as living at 1509 Swann Street at the time of the murder, and Sarah Morgan was the downstairs renter.  While it’s not clear Phelps Collins had access to the house, his involvement with Michael Price in the burglary of the Swann Street resident puts him in the supporting cast as well.

Has everyone from this supporting cast supplied DNA and fingerprint samples?  It is time for all those with any connection to the case to offer DNA samples, so that they can be positively ruled in or out.

— Posted by David

42 comments for “The Hair And The Fingerprint

  1. CDinDC
    04/13/2009 at 9:42 AM

    Seems like fingerprints for Hinton and Phelps should be on file with the Maryland and/or DC Police Departments. They have both been arrested before…..Hinton for battery and assault charges….Phelps for a variety of criminal matters.

  2. jackson
    04/13/2009 at 2:35 PM

    Seems like there plenty of loose threads (and maybe hairs) for the defense teams to unravel. Than again does physical evidence matter all that much since the 3 guys aren’t charged with murder?

    • Lance
      04/13/2009 at 2:53 PM

      It’s a good question. Even if there’s evidence that there was an intruder, that doesn’t per se answer the question of whether the defendants obstructed justice (by, e.g., cleaning the scene). It does perhaps cast doubt on their motive for doing so, since the implicit motivation for them to obstruct the investigation is that they’re guilty. To that extent, the evidence may be part of the defense. But I think you’re right that it can’t be all of it.

  3. CDinDC
    04/13/2009 at 5:19 PM

    Lance says: “It does perhaps cast doubt on their motive for doing so, since the implicit motivation for them to obstruct the investigation is that they’re guilty.”

    But guilty of what, if not murder? Covering for someone else? (Legitimate question…I am in no way being facetious.)

    • Lance
      04/13/2009 at 5:51 PM

      Right, no, that’s exactly my point. The current charge is obstruction of justice, and Jackson asks (at least, I think this is what he’s asking) whether evidence of an intruder matters in an obstruction case. It certainly would matter in a murder defense, since it helps bolster an alternate theory of the crime, but does it help them defend against obstruction?

      My speculation was that no, the fact that there’s unidentified hair/fingerprints doesn’t in itself prove that they didn’t obstruct justice. What it does suggest is the following: the prosecution needs to show, I think, that they had a motive to obstruct justice. If they committed the murder, or were complicit in the murder, that’s a clear motive for them to obstruct justice. Therefore, evidence that someone else may have committed the murder is evidence that they may not have had a motive to obstruct justice.

      Again, it’s by no means the entire basis for a defense. If I were part of the legal team (and I’m not), I’d also want to show that their actions didn’t constitute obstruction in any case.

      And on the flip side: you’d have to make the case for it, but one possibility for motive is the following. Suppose that the hair and fingerprint really do show that Wone was killed by an intruder. While the roommates wouldn’t have any motivation to cover up for a random intruder, they might have motivation to cover for an intruder they knew. So if, for instance, the prosecution could show that Price believed that the intruder who killed Wone was Price’s brother Michael, then that could be motivation for obstruction of justice, even if the roommates really are innocent of the murder.

      Again, all of that would need to be proven, but that’s some speculation on how the evidence might play out.

      • CDinDC
        04/13/2009 at 7:37 PM

        Lance says: “the prosecution needs to show, I think, that they had a motive to obstruct justice.”

        The prosecution doesn’t need to “prove” motive. Not even in a murder trial. All they need to do is prove that the 3 defs cleaned up a crime scene. Doesn’t matter why. Not even in a murder trial. BUUUT, proving motive serves to convince a jury of guilt or innocence.

        Lance also says “evidence that someone else may have committed the murder is evidence that they may not have had a motive to obstruct justice.”

        Excellent point.

        • CDinDC
          04/13/2009 at 7:45 PM

          I failed to point out, however, prosecution must tread very lightly around the issue of murder. Double jeopardy. You can not try a defendant on the same set of facts twice.

        • Lance
          04/13/2009 at 8:14 PM

          CDinDC says: “The prosecution doesn’t need to ‘prove’ motive.”

          Quite right; to the extent that I suggested that they do, I misspoke. They don’t “need to show” motive in a legal sense–but as CDinDC says, it’s sure helpful in convincing a jury.

        • Anon. in Arlington
          04/14/2009 at 12:09 PM

          I am curious if the prosecution must prove that all three played a part in the physical clean up, or are they going with “at least one person did the clean up and one or more know why?” Is that the angle of obstruction – more of “not talking” than “actually cleaned up”? Is there more weight on cleaning up than not talking about the truth or are the seen as equal in the eyes of the law? Of course there can be back pocket evidence of a fingerprint in blood. Oh to be so hopeful. But murder charges would have proceeded by now…

          • CDinDC
            04/14/2009 at 12:33 PM

            Whether all three or only one actually cleaned the joint up, they all three knowingly conspired to cover up. If Victor was upstairs with his fingers in his ears, stamping on the floor and say “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you”, he still would have obstructed justice by not coming forward and telling the truth of the events that night, i.e., he may have lied about it.

            • Anon. in Arlington
              04/14/2009 at 12:42 PM

              Would you get a longer sentence if you did the physical clean-up vs. just did not tell the truth, or are these considered equal guilt under the law?

              • CDinDC
                04/14/2009 at 12:48 PM

                They would be sentenced for each crime they are found guilty of. So, the more crimes, the more time. Basically. But that is up to a judge during sentencing. The prosecutors can suggest or ask for particular sentence based on sentencing guidelines (i.e., throw the book at them, which means they would be sentenced to the maximum amount punishable by law.)

                • Anon. in Arlington
                  04/14/2009 at 12:51 PM

                  And someone stated months ago that this could be as high as 32 years.

                  • CDinDC
                    04/14/2009 at 12:54 PM

                    And anyone that participates as an accessory after the fact stands to get half of the defendants’ sentence. So, if someone helped the defendants cart away evidence the next day, that’s an accessory after the fact.

                  • ladydetective
                    04/14/2009 at 12:56 PM

                    In the Defense’s Bill of Particulars, they note that Dylan Ward is facing up to 38 years under the three criminal charges. So that would apply to all three Defendants since they have been each charged with the same offenses.

            • CDinDC
              04/14/2009 at 12:44 PM

              In fact, the three are charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, AND evidence tampering.

              Obstruction of justice is an attempt to interfer or impede an investigation. Not being truthful would be an impediment to an investigation. You can obstruct justice all by yourself.

              Evidence tampering….is exactly that.

              Conspiracy is when two or more people conspire to continue to impede the investigation (i.e., the defendants possibly sat around and planned out what they were going to say and would continue to say and/or disposed of evidence at a later time. Conspiracy is more about after the fact than during the commission of a crime, and there must be two or more people being complicit.

              • Anon. in Arlington
                04/14/2009 at 12:49 PM

                Thanks CD! You frequently help me out.

  4. Ex Swann Dude
    04/13/2009 at 5:23 PM

    Off topic …

    I’m just curious here but does anyone ever see the kids out and about in the neighborhood? Is anyone from their building (1640 16th St, NW) on here? They continue to live in the center of Gay Ground Zero (just 3 blocks from the scene of “the intruder”) despite what has to be a certain amount of discomfort.

    Does Dylan still live in the apartment with them (there was a rumor he had moved)?

    Do they hit the usual restaurants on 17th? Do they go to the local bars? What about the Safeway or CVS?

    Does anyone see them together? With friends? Are they social at all?

    This site gets a bit of attention these days … surely someone has something to report …

    • JusticeForRobert
      04/14/2009 at 3:22 AM

      Ex Swan: Can you tell me if the 16th Street residence is also located in DuPont Circle? If not, does the new area that they currently reside in have a name?

      • CDinDC
        04/14/2009 at 7:14 AM

        I think ExSwann is sleeping in this morning…..yes, it’s still in Dupont Circle.

    • Anon
      04/16/2009 at 9:57 AM

      I literally crossed paths with Ward in the vicinity of 15th / R a few weeks ago. My partner nearly bumped into him and had to started to apologize when I turned around and saw who it was. I spontaneously yanked my partner’s arm to pull him away, like a mother would do with a little kid.

      My partner didn’t recognize Ward but noted he gave off a strange vibe – like he was extremely tense / tightly wound.

      It was creepy. And it made me angry.

  5. Corcoran Cutlet
    04/13/2009 at 5:37 PM

    I would not be surprised if they were going around lightly disguised the way celebs do. The are celebs of a sort now, just a horrible sort.

  6. jackson
    04/13/2009 at 5:40 PM

    I thought one of the editors wrote that dylan moved out.

    What say you editors???

    • Michael
      04/13/2009 at 5:47 PM

      Word on the street is that Dylan is no longer living with Joe and Victor.

      Michael, editor

  7. CDinDC
    04/13/2009 at 7:18 PM

    any word on who made that decision?

    • 04/14/2009 at 8:12 AM

      hopefully victor. maybe it is the first step in doing the right thing — getting rid of the anchor? victor, darling; there is still time to change the way this ends up — you know there is.

  8. CDinDC
    04/13/2009 at 7:25 PM

    I saw Joe Price a couple of months ago….on 18th Street in Adams Morgan up near DCArts. He was alone.

    • Nelly
      04/13/2009 at 11:58 PM

      I would like to be able to jump out at him with a sign screaming “Justice for Robert Wone!”

  9. Fascinating
    04/14/2009 at 8:33 AM

    Hey, I know you guys spend a lot of time and energy doing this blog … I have one suggestion (don’t take it as a criticism): It’s not obvious where on the site to find the facts and maybe even a time line regarding the case. You have to read through loads of old articles in order to piece this thing together. I did it once a few months ago, then forget some of the details.

    Has anyone considered piecing together a FAQ or a Time Line that references the police reports and is 100% factual, without any assumptions.

    The reason I bring this up …….

    The hair and finger print that do not belong to anyone who was in the house … Were the 3 roommates home earlier, before Wone came over? Could the unknown hair & finger print belong to a sexual partner from earlier that evening? When they said “intruder”, could they really have been covering for some person who was in the house earlier who maybe was unstable and freaked out on Wone?

    • CDinDC
      04/14/2009 at 8:51 AM

      Go up to the top of the page….under the banner “Who Murdered Robert Wone” are a collection of clickable links…..

      Home – FAQ – Wone:101 – Robert Wone – Defendants – Legal Teams – Legal Documents – Media – Contact Editors

      lots of info.

    • David
      04/14/2009 at 9:55 AM


      We don’t take it as criticism. We are working on timelines, and if all of the editors didn’t have full time jobs, we would spend much more time on the site, but since we all work for the man, the site remains our avocation.

      Thanks for the comment.

      David, editor

  10. TK
    04/14/2009 at 10:55 AM

    I think this was mentioned elsewhere, but seemingly obvious candidates for the hair owners would be the EMS and police who arrived on the scene; no word on whether they were checked? The fingerprint could be any number of people who had access to the house (this was a guest room after all) but I assume the EMS at least would be wearing latex gloves.

    • Craig
      04/14/2009 at 11:41 AM

      Maybe the hair was Louis Hinton’s. After all he did claim 1509 as a residence in the months before the murder, with Victor guaranteeing that as terms of his release & bail.

      Which room would Louis have stayed in? Assuming he did stay at 1509 as he told the Montgomery County authorities.

      • CDinDC
        04/14/2009 at 11:47 AM

        If the hair was “on top of the sheet next to where Mr. Wone was found,” it may have dropped there during the commission of the crime; however, if the hair was slightly embedded into the fabric of the sheet (which sometimes happens during laundering, it could be belong to anyone. And going with TK’s line of thought, the EMT’s don’t wear hair nets.

    • Lance
      04/14/2009 at 2:18 PM

      …seemingly obvious candidates for the hair owners would be the EMS and police who arrived on the scene

      It seems to me that that would be true of every crime scene, that hairs found there could belong to one of the investigators. So I’d assume–and it’s an assumption; I’d love for someone who knows police procedure to give the facts–that the police have some system for ensuring that this isn’t the case.

      • David
        04/14/2009 at 2:30 PM


        Logic seems to say that any EMS or police would voluntarily offer DNA samples so that any trace of them would be immediately ruled out. Another avenue to look at would be to see if the owners of the 1509 Swann Street employed a maid service at the time of the murder, which would mean they would have access to the house.

        David, editor

        • Corcoran Cutlet
          04/14/2009 at 5:46 PM

          A source on Swann is quite sure that there was a maid service.

      • L.
        04/14/2009 at 10:35 PM

        Why don’t you have a theory Lance (in one sentence)?

        • Lance
          04/14/2009 at 11:41 PM

          For the reasons I’ve enumerated previously.

  11. Anon. in Arlington
    04/14/2009 at 12:15 PM

    Wasn’t this bead a sofa pull-out? If so, the bed could have been “made up” prior to closing the bed after the last time it was used. Although Martha Stewart would not approve, it is practical and one less thing to think about if having an unexpected guest with a need for your pullout bed.

    So the hair could be of a prior guest or cleaning service? Just a thought.

    • TK
      04/14/2009 at 12:23 PM

      Good point Anon, but that is also assuming that these were not fresh sheets put in the bed to replace ones soaked in Wone’s blood. Remember that there was far too little blood on the bed to account for his wounds.

      Alternatively as some of us have speculated, he was not even killed in that bed, but placed there after having lost the blood, died, and been cleaned. That would match with your thought.

      • Anon. in Arlington
        04/14/2009 at 12:33 PM

        For the past few weeks I have thought that the murder took place in another room, and defiantly not on the bed (there is no way the blood would not have soaked through to the mattress). Once we learn where all the floor boards were ripped out, we may get a clearer picture as to how staged the guest room was in the end. Who knows if the bed had yet been pulled out/opened before Robert even climbed the stairs?

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