What the Wone and Smithson Murders Do and Don’t Share
Many people who hear about Robert Wone’s murder have pegged it a sex-party-gone-bad and a snap cover up, especially if you know a little about the defendants or certain behaviors in certain parts of the gay community.
But if you compare both cases to that theory, you quickly see the Philly case fits it better than does the murder of Robert Wone. This helps draw a critical difference between the cases, and helps reframe the way we look at why and how Robert died.
So, the similarities.
On the surface both sets of defendants were white men with professional jobs. Dylan and Joe were into gay sex parties with multiple partners just like William Smithson. Witnesses spoke to knowing about Dylan and Joe’s sexual involvement.
Joe Price’s alt.com profile seeks a third person for play with he and Dylan. William Smithson on the night of the murder had both Jason Shephard and Bruce Covington at his home for the purpose of sex.
The drug issue is less clear. While Joe and Dylan have not said they did drugs, Dylan admitted that drugs were in the Swann Street home. Police dogs smelled the former presence of drugs in a cabinet in Dylan’s room, and in one in Joe and Victor’s room. William Smithson said he was very into crystal meth, and many of the sex parties he hosted focused on using crystal meth and having sex. It is not uncommon for drugs to be involved at the sex parties that Dylan and Joe may have appeared to be into.
On how the drugs were used, William Smithson and Bruce Covington both admitted to being into injecting crystal meth. It is not known whether Jason Shephard was injected with any drugs, but Robert Wone was found with multiple premortem need marks. So far, Robert’s blood from has tested negative. But, the prosecution and defense have agreed to further tests of the remaining blood sample.
Additionally, both cases’ defendants claim the prosecution is bigoted and biased because of the sexual orientation of the defendants, partially stemming from what police argue is a sexual fetish lifestyle.
But the similarities end there, and its differences help explain why Robert’s case isn’t just an example of a sex party traveling down to south street.
First, Robert and the defendants knew each other over a significantly longer period of time than Jason Shephard knew William Smithson or Bruce Covington. The Swann Street housemates and Robert knew each other for well over a decade when the murder occurred in 2006. Joe, Victor and Dylan describe themselves as a family while the men in Philadelphia barely knew each other, even for less than 24 hours.
From media reports it sounds like William Smithson had a few sex toys, which certainly can’t be said of Dylan Ward’s collection of sex paraphernalia.
Second, how each group came together is also dramatically different. In the Swann Street case, they knew each other from elite organizations at college, to being domestic partners, to being roommates and in a self described polyamorous relationship. The internet had nothing to do with bringing any of the four residents together on August 2, 2006.
In Jason Shepherd’s case, he knew William Smithson at most a few months, and the internet more than likely played a role in bringing Covington to the house. He probably met Jason for the first time on September 19, 2006.
The Swann Street residents have every reason not to turn on each other. They are family; they even continue living together. William Smithson, on the other hand, doesn’t owe Bruce Covington any loyalty. Attendees at a sex party who don’t have much invested with each other would quickly look out for the own interests, especially as the faced hard jail time.
The police expected the Swann Street defendants to turn on each other. They underestimated how tight this family is.
While sex maybe at the heart of each case, both are not examples of the sex party gone wrong theory. And the Smithson case helps us understand murder of Robert Wone better.
-posted by David