The Long Hot Summer

For Tonight’s Forecast We Go To Dylan Ward On The Weather Desk

There’s no end to the minutia that one can trawl through in the original affidavit for Dylan Ward’s arrest.  Until the discovery phase and the ruling on the Bill of Particulars, we have little to lean on except for the sometimes curious statements and quotes attributed to the Defendants in it.  A seemingly minor and overlooked remark made by Dylan to the police that night stands out.

Asked by police what he, Joe and Robert talked about over a glass of water in the kitchen before retiring that evening, Dylan said, “We talked about his wife.  We talked about our friend Lisa.  We talked briefly about his job. Joe talked about the shower breaking.  We talked about it being so hot in his room.”  That seems like an especially good recall of topics for seemingly idle, late-night chit chat.  

weatherBut the remark about the hot guest room stood out after being mentioned tangentially in the comments section a few weeks ago.  It’s raises a couple questions as to what exactly were the HVAC issues at 1509 and why they would allow their guest and longtime friend to have an uncomfortable night of sleep in their “hot” guest room. 

Was Dylan, whose bedroom shared the same floor as the guest room just making small talk about the weather?  Or could a skeptic imagine him trying to explain ahead of time why Wone’s body would’ve been found by EMTs and police on top of the bed covers, not under them?

Almost any DC resident can speak to the difficulties of keeping homes cool during our long hot summers, but exactly what sort of million dollar plus, recently renovated townhouses have such localized climate control problems? 

August 2006 was indeed a hot summer and weather records for August 2 showed that DC was very warm that day reaching a high of 99 degrees but had cooled to the mid 80’s by the time of Robert’s arrival at 10:30pm.

But Dylan’s casual mention raises questions.  Why would the guest room of a $1.25 million home be “hot?”  I suppose we can root around again on Swann and in the alley to see what the HVAC systems looked like for 1509 (exterior or rooftop compressor units), but I would imagine any tony 4 level townhouse in that price range would have at least two zone heating & A/C.  You better have that kind of capacity for DC summers to cool over 2,000 square feet of space.  

Also, the south facing guest room of 1509 would get most of the warming daytime sun, but for anyone who’s even been on that street at the height of summer, the block-long canopy of mature and towering ginkgos that line the block would seem to offer plenty of shade for the home’s south elevation.

 If the guest room was indeed so hot, not warm, why wouldn’t the housemates have offered Robert a spot in the middle room of the second floor which could be cooler?  Why not offer him the chilled basement for a comfortable night’s sleep since Sarah Morgan had made plans to be away that evening at her friend’s house?

Judging from our south facing home a couple blocks away without nearly the tree cover of Swann, when we crank our twin Weathermaster 9200’s on a hot day we can chill every room of the house to the point of uncomfortable,  including our second floor rooms.  The “hot” guest room doesn’t add up unless we can pinpoint mechanical issues, and those would probably affect the entire house, not just the guest room. 

The topic of air conditioning came up later that evening in Joe Price’s statement to police.  Trying to explain why an “intruder” would not have woken Dylan either during his entry, commission of the crime or exit, Joe said Ward’s, “room is directly under the air conditioning system for the house….(it) hums… very loud.”  It should be noted also on page 10 of the affidavit that detectives noted the noise emanating from that unit while operating was, “almost imperceptible.”

It’s hot and getting hotter.  And the longrange forecast for the April 24 status conference:  More fog and haze.


36 comments for “The Long Hot Summer

  1. CDinDC
    04/15/2009 at 4:40 PM

    Nice post.

    Does the unit under Ward’s window service the entire house? If it does and if it’s hum were loud enough to prevent Dylan from hearing anything, that would mean it was working.

    Perhaps Joe was encouraging Robert to sleep elsewhere in the house. Dylan’s room?

    • CDinDC
      04/15/2009 at 4:48 PM

      Oh, and what was wrong with the shower…and which shower?

      • Craig
        04/15/2009 at 5:22 PM

        You beat us to the shower scene CD. If we can pull together the other photos of 1509, we can look at the bathrooms later this week.

        -Craig, ed.

        • TK
          04/15/2009 at 6:16 PM

          I wondered about the ‘broken shower’ too. Maybe Robert had to shower in PRice/Zaborski’s in the master suite…

      • 04/15/2009 at 8:07 PM

        “Joe talked about the shower breaking.” Alternatively, might it just have been raining that evening? An easy one to confirm or deny on that “long hot summer day.”

  2. CDinDC
    04/15/2009 at 4:52 PM

    Were the answers to the interrogatories ever filed?

    • Michael
      04/16/2009 at 12:48 PM

      CD –

      Are you inquiring about the interrogatories sent by Kathy Wone’s attorneys in the civil case? If so, no. They were stopped as a result of the judge placing a stay on the civil discovery moving forward until after the criminal trial.

      Nice kitty BTW.

      Michael, editor

      • CDinDC
        04/16/2009 at 1:03 PM

        Yes, exactly…those interrogatories.

        Too bad they have been stopped…but you have to figure, the defs have had over 2 years to forget details about that night.

        thx re the kitty!

  3. Seriously?
    04/15/2009 at 5:18 PM

    You are positing guilt based the your assessment of the HVAC system in a house you’ve never been in?

    • IKWDI
      04/15/2009 at 6:01 PM

      ummm, no…. they are just asking some very interesting questions…

    • 04/15/2009 at 7:32 PM

      darling, seriously,

      no one on this site (excluding needham) is dumb enough to think that you can look at any one piece of the evidence in this case in a vacuum. when the fact that dylan was regurgitating talking points provided by price, when they are all showered in fresh robes acting wierd, when dylan’s knife is gone and joe wonders if dylan is being charged . . . . .all these items (and many we do not know about) put into a complete context will be rope that hangs ms. ward.

      editors: love the dylan posts. we need more dylan more of the time — including his orbit, and interviews with his friends, families, etc.

      and someone please snap some photos of her at the upcoming hearing — i am so over the mug shot.

    • CDinDC
      04/15/2009 at 8:43 PM

      Yes, there is a little know DC statute called “if the HVAC system is said to be malfunction clause”. It’s an open and shut case. Case closed.

      • CDinDC
        04/15/2009 at 8:46 PM

        And by the way, Seriously?, have you waded through the entire website? Read the myriad posts on myriad subjects involving the case? Or did you just tune in today and read one post and jump to that conclusion?

  4. 04/15/2009 at 7:42 PM

    I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that the three stated that they were unaware that Sarah Morgan was gone for the night, for what it’s worth.

    As regards the broken shower, perhaps that’s why Mr. Wone had to perform his ablutions on the porch, after he was dead.

    • lookingforjustice
      04/15/2009 at 9:00 PM

      Dan: According to statements given to the police, Sarah called Joe earlier that evening to tell him that she would be staying with friends, and that she had set the alarm system. They had no reason to expect that she would return. I think the shower may not have been broken before the murder but was broken after the murder and thus was mentioned by Dylan as a cover, since he expected the cops to find a broken shower.

  5. lookingforjustice
    04/15/2009 at 9:07 PM

    I am anxious to see what part, if any, that “electrosex” may have played in this event. It would explain a few things, such as the seaman found on Roberts genitals, his inner thighs and in his rectum. Also, the chime from the security system is a matter of record. Most security companies can trace how many times a chime is activated, even if the alarm is not set.

  6. Lance
    04/15/2009 at 9:12 PM

    …why they would allow their guest and longtime friend to have an uncomfortable night of sleep in their “hot” guest room.

    I can see them not putting a guest in Sarah’s room; after all, it was Sarah’s room. As for the other room, I have no idea; what did they use it for?

    But anyway: if indeed the AC was malfunctioning, it’s entirely conceivable that there had been a conversation along the lines of: “Hey, Joe, I have to work late tomorrow; can I sleep in your guest room?” “No problem, Robert–oh, but the AC is broken, so it may be a little hot.” “Eh, that’s all right, I’ll be fine.” That is, it’s not the case that Robert came over and they said, “And you’ll be in…the Hot Room! Ahahahaha!”, but rather he knew the room would be hot and came to stay anyway, and the topic came up while they were chatting in the kitchen.

    • Anon
      04/16/2009 at 10:21 AM

      I find the AC thing confusing. The house was newly renovated, top to bottom. All new systems – pipes, wiring, etc. had to be installed (the house was previously a shell that had stood vacant for a long time. The owners lived elsewhere and had refused for years to sell it or secure it; at one point transients occupied it, started a fire and nearly burned it down. The neighbor (not the present one) at 1511 had to pursue legal action just to get the owners to board up the place properly. I walked through 1509 pre-renovation and it needed a total gut – it was scorched and water damaged inside.

      I presume the house had at least two HVAC zones – one for the house and one for the apartment. Probably more. Maybe each room has its own thermostat, but that seems a bit excessive. It doesn’t sound plausible to me that a new system would break down so soon, nor does it sound plausible that only a single room would be affected.

      Thank you, editors, for creating a space where I can indulge my HVAC musings. 😉

      • CDinDC
        04/16/2009 at 10:36 AM

        Hi Anon….unfortunately new systems DO break down sometimes. I can vouch for that. I had a new, stateof the art boiler installed in my home in December. It broke down 4 weeks later. I was without heat for days. Turns out a ceramic piece attached to the electronic ignition had cracked in transit. It definitely happens.

        • N.M.
          04/18/2009 at 12:15 AM

          Indeed, but is it possible to have a breakdown that affects only one room?

          • CDinDC
            04/18/2009 at 10:05 AM

            If the system is divided into zones, yes. (A thermostat in individual rooms or areas of the house.) Another poster said it’s a bit extravagant to have each room a zone.

            • Ex Swann Dude
              04/18/2009 at 10:33 AM

              A “zone” refers to the area heated/cooled by each individual unit. This size house (Aprox. 2200 sq feet) would have two different heat/ac units max.

              The room in question has three rather large windows, faces south and the month is August … If one intentionally wanted that room to be hot, one would simply close the two a/c vents in the room for a few hours. Then it would take several hours with the vents open again to cool the room back down.

              In townhouses it is not uncommon to close some vents on the lower floors to force cool air to the upper floors which can swelter in the summers.

          • Lance
            04/18/2009 at 4:14 PM

            Actually, no one said the breakdown affected only one room. The discussion was that Wone’s room was hot; that’s compatible with the AC being broken throughout a “zone”, i.e. in a bunch of rooms, one of which was the guest room. (In fact, it’s possible that the other room mentioned in the post, the “middle room”, was in that zone and equally hot.)

            • CDinDC
              04/18/2009 at 6:01 PM

              Lance says: (In fact, it’s possible that the other room mentioned in the post, the “middle room”, was in that zone and equally hot.)

              It’s possible, but what what proof is there that it is and it was?

              • Lance
                04/18/2009 at 7:20 PM

                None; none whatsoever. But neither is there proof that the AC had broken down in one room.

            • Ex Swann Dude
              04/18/2009 at 7:09 PM

              The middle room could not possibly be as hot as the front room as it did not have any windows facing south and was insulated on either side by another room (hence it was “the middle room”) …

      • Kenspeckled Souckar
        04/18/2009 at 4:33 PM

        There were actually two fires over a period of years. The first one around 1992 or so. The other one later. After that legal action. A pretty well known local real estate seller did the place on spec. He employed a lot of odd people to do the remodeling –rude ones too. I am not surprised they had problems later on. In fact the spec realtor had to come back and do a number of repairs when the first gay couple owned it. They moved to New York I think. Funnily enough they were friends with the same gay guy across the street who was friends with the trio.

  7. 04/15/2009 at 9:17 PM

    It’s certainly possible that the shower was broken during the murder, a la Psycho, but on the other hand it seems likely that the cadaver dogs would have smelled something there if that were so.

    • lookingforjustice
      04/15/2009 at 9:27 PM

      Yes, during or after. Keep in mind that all three of them appeared to be showered and clean when the EMT’s showed. It is possible that with enough water and bleach or other solvents, that the blood in the shower could have been washed away. It is also possible that there was never any blood in the shower, but something else besides the stabbing took place in the shower.

    • Anon. in Arlington
      04/15/2009 at 11:08 PM

      But “broken shower” could mean a number of things, including pipes not functioning to bring water either to, or draining from, the tub/shower enclosure.

      • lookingforjustice
        04/15/2009 at 11:17 PM

        Hi Anon., yes, this is true. I hope that we find out more about this, among other things, in the upcoming hearing.

        • Anon. in Arlington
          04/15/2009 at 11:26 PM

          Hi looking: Isn’t the upcoming hearing only a case status report? Will they release any info to the general public?

          Although I hunger for more information leading to the truth, I also don’t want there to be anything leaked that would jeopardize justice being served. It just is not worth it.

  8. 04/15/2009 at 9:30 PM

    but something else besides the stabbing took place in the shower

    Is that really how you want to phrase that?

    • lookingforjustice
      04/15/2009 at 9:37 PM

      well….since we don’t have an edit option, it is going to stay “phrased” that way. I don’t think that Robert would mind, so I don’t mind either.

  9. Fascinating
    04/16/2009 at 8:25 AM

    Anon, I was wondering the same thing. Certainly the authorities investigating this case have more answers that have been made public, and have also done research that we’re all guessing at (i.e. Price’s flight — what time it arrived?; is there record of a security chime?; cell phone records of calls made by the threesome, as well as Wone; etc.)

    Will the general public (i.e. us!) get to see some of this info after the 24th?

    • CDinDC
      04/16/2009 at 8:49 AM

      Zaborsky didn’t necessarily FLY to an out of town destination. He could have taken a train. Or even drove. Baltimore would be considered “out of town.”

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