Six Minutes To Midnight

About that time line

It’s not an understatement to say there are dozens of inconsistencies when comparing the defendants’ affidavit statements against each other.  Trying to match their statements to the 9-1-1 call becomes even more hypnotizing.

And we thought we wouldn’t have enough material to carry the next ten months.

doomsdayAbout five minutes into the 911 call Victor asks the time.

The dispatcher asks, “at the moment?”  Maybe not the sort of question she’s used to hearing from a distraught caller with a life or death emergency. “Yes,” Victor says.

She responds, “2354, it’s 11:54…”  You hear Victor say to someone, “11:54.”

Who wanted to know the time?  Why?   Was the time important to the alleged first-aid Robert was getting from former Eagle Scout Joe Price?

The clock was ticking.  It was Doomsday.

Page 8 of the affidavit has the curious contradiction.  The second paragraph of Victor’s statement has him relaying the events of the evening to police.  You know the part, the one in which Victor talks about that magic second towel.

It’s in this section that Victor says that it was Joe who was wanting to know the time.  “She said it was 11:43,” he tells police.  The affidavit goes on to clarify 11:54 as the actual time that happened.

This raises more than a few questions.  Why was knowing the time so important to Joe?  Where did Victor come up with 11:43 when talking with the detectives?  Why even mention that seemingly insignificant part of the phone call to police?

Since the 9-1-1 tape has been released many commentors have noted that Victor sounded less like someone freaking out over a horrific crime committed against an old friend and more as if laying out a narrative of the evening and getting it on record.

We’ve seen how important the supposed time line will be in this case.  The defense team has already said they will challenge the government’s theory based on it.  There are only a couple fixed points:  Robert’s arrival (as reported by the defendants) at about 10:30pm and the 11:49pm 911 call that ran about six minutes.

The more skeptical will wonder why Joe may have needed to time stamp the call.  Others may wonder if Victor just simply blew his line.

-posted by Craig

40 comments for “Six Minutes To Midnight

  1. TK
    06/23/2009 at 7:58 AM

    Joe back-setting the time on Robert’s Blackberry to send those calls?

  2. TK
    06/23/2009 at 7:58 AM

    Joe back-setting the time on Robert’s Blackberry to send those calls?

  3. Gentle Reader
    06/23/2009 at 11:40 AM

    I would argue that the only fixed point is the call, since Robert’s arrival was reported by the defendents and everything they have reported needs to be questioned.

    • Doug
      06/23/2009 at 12:40 PM

      Gentle Reader, thanks for the note. You may be interested in taking a look back at this entry for more detailed analysis of that evening’s time line.
      -Doug, co-editor

  4. Gentle Reader
    06/23/2009 at 11:40 AM

    I would argue that the only fixed point is the call, since Robert’s arrival was reported by the defendents and everything they have reported needs to be questioned.

    • Doug
      06/23/2009 at 12:40 PM

      Gentle Reader, thanks for the note. You may be interested in taking a look back at this entry for more detailed analysis of that evening’s time line.
      -Doug, co-editor

  5. Bea
    06/23/2009 at 4:21 PM

    Actually, in rereading the entire affidavit, Joe TOO uses “11:43” which is more telling – in Joe’s statement, when asked when the intruder went in/out, he states “between 11:10 and 11:43”.

    When Joe asked Victor the time, the dispatcher tells Victor “11:54” and then Victor tells Joe “11:54”. In Victor’s statement, he misstates this as “11:43” just as Joe guesses the time the intruder left as being before “11:43”.

    This tells me that while the trio was sitting in the living room (in white bath robes) awaiting the MPD, the misstatement of 11:43 was incorporated into the “story”. Victor and Joe wouldn’t have coincidentally come up with the same wrong time.

    Joe was putting finishing touches on the final details that he would use to instruct the others is my guess and simply got it wrong is my guess. “Okay, Victor, most important is that you say I was next to you in bed when you heard a chime then some grunting noises. WE went downstairs TOGETHER and found Robert but I went in to his room and I sent you upstairs to call 911 after you got hysterical. We didn’t see Dylan at all until later and he looked like he’d just woken up.”

    “Dylan, you slept through it. You didn’t see me until I was sitting next to Robert, you two didn’t see each other until Victor was on the phone with 911.”

    “The critical times are that Robert arrived at 10:30 but Dylan and I went to bed around 11, none of us heard anything because we were asleep until Victor called the ambulance at 11:43. We can mention hearing the chime when Sarah (Michael/Lewis, etc.) arrived to take the stuff. Stick closely to the truth and work in that the backdoor might have been left open. The intruder could have been waiting in the house – we don’t know. They can’t get us if we stick together.”

    Here’s a new thought. When Victor told the 911 operator that the “intruder” used “one of our knives” is it possible that he really MEANT Dylan’s knife? He did NOT say one our ‘kitchen’ knives. When asked if the intruder left with it, he says he thinks so. I know I’m Johnny-one-note on Victor being after-the-fact, but if the story was being cooked up for a while before he came downstairs (and Joe sent him away so he couldn’t see much) then it’s possible that the original story was that the intruder was going to leave WITH the knife but when Joe heard Victor tell 911 “he had one of our knives” then Joe figured it was a good idea to have a kitchen knife found with blood on it. Or Victor just hadn’t heard the whole story yet/was confused by the amount of info.

    But back to the original reason for the post – Joe definitely repeats 11:43 as well (assume that the affidavits are based on taped interrogations and Joe is correctly quoted as saying 11:43).

    It would please me greatly if Super Joe was the one to make the two biggest mistakes: reiterating the wrong time to ensure that it was a “story” and by wiping blood on the wrong sized knife and leaving towel fibers.

    • Craig
      06/23/2009 at 4:40 PM

      Great eye Bea. How many rereads of the affidavit does that make for you? I’ve lost count but something usually percolates up every time I go through it again.

      As I’ve said before: Don’t just read the affidavit, Bea the affidavit.

      • Doug
        06/23/2009 at 4:53 PM

        Good one.
        Doug, co-editor

        • Bea
          06/23/2009 at 6:54 PM

          Thanks, guys. It’s a group process – you put up the great post, something gnaws at me so I go back and reread the danged affidavit yet again.

          Wouldn’t you LOVE to get your hands on transcripts of the interrogations? Or better yet the TAPES of the interrogations? I hope the DA has some gay assistant DAs to listen in to “get” innuendo/word choice/references that straight guys in bad shoes (and straight women in “great” shoes) might miss. Personally, I’d love to interrogate Joe on his comment that Dylan “wouldn’t spank a child that had been bad” – as in “but would he spank an adult who hadn’t?” just to mess with him.

          • CDinDC
            06/23/2009 at 7:40 PM

            I think there’s a kernel of truth in that statement. As I’ve said before, I think Dylan was corrupted by Joe. Maybe Dylan acting under his own control wouldn’t hurt fly (“spank a child”), but under Joe’s control, he does what Joe tells him to do.

            I believe Joe’s thrill is making people do what they don’t want to do. (Victor – watch me have a relationship with another man. Dylan – step outside of your passive persona and do to me what I tell you to do.)

            Joe must have felt like Superman to be able to manipulate people into doing whatever he wanted them to do. And, boy, what he managed to get them to do was major.

            Did he get his ultimate thrill by ordering someone to kill for him?

          • 06/23/2009 at 8:58 PM

            bea, you can interrogate joe; but leave ms. ward to me. i would love the chance to pick through what is left of that brain (and yes, i will shower before and after the questioning). i would love to match wits with ward; and would go right after her vulnerable mental, emotional state. while so many have opened my eyes to the real joe price on this blog, l’il dil will always be the most likely perp in my view. needham must be so ashamed.

            • Bea
              06/23/2009 at 9:22 PM

              For Victor, just sit his child on his lap and say “explain to him while you won’t be around to see him grow up.” Then we can remind him that he and Joe will be in different prisons (hey, maybe Dylan and Joe will be together!) – and prisons are not at all like the way they’re depicted in the “fun” Eye Candy DVDS.

              • CDinDC
                06/23/2009 at 9:26 PM

                Bea says: ” (hey, maybe Dylan and Joe will be together!)”

                Oh, the irony in that!

          • Craig
            06/23/2009 at 11:40 PM

            I seem to recall Kirchner saying at the April status hearing that some of the interrogation tapes might be missing. Of course they are.

            Need to check the transcript.

            • Craig
              06/24/2009 at 11:00 AM

              I just checked: The April 24 transcript makes no mention of a missing videotape from the interrogation, but in Bernie Grimm’s first avail with reporters after the hearing he says, “that for the first hour (of Price’s questioning) the videotape wasn’t running….”

              It’s at 1:24 into this clip:

              The MPD failed according to their mission statement: “It is the mission of the MPD to safeguard the District and protect its residents and visitors by providing …. a commitment to innovation that integrates people, technology and progressive business systems.”

              Seems like the MPD AV squad was asleep at the switch. Nice job guys.

              • CDinDC
                06/24/2009 at 5:54 PM


                “I didn’t turn it on….I thought YOU turned it on.”

                Nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk.
                Hey Moe!

  6. NYer wants Justice
    06/24/2009 at 12:57 AM

    I still don’t think a fourth person came and took away the murder weapon and other evidence. I think one of three things happened:
    1. A fourth person was there during the incident and then left with the stuff.
    2. The 3 stooges thought of a genious place to dispose of the stuff.
    3. They were just very lucky, and wherever they put the evidence, it was taken away before police got to it. Did the garbageman come the next morning?

    • Bea
      06/24/2009 at 2:28 AM

      I don’t have any reason, really, to disagree with you, NYer, and you may be right. Just a gut thought that it’s terribly convenient for Sarah to have been gone on a week-night sleepover to a couple’s house nearby (extraneous commentary about leaving the security on, off, why they didn’t worry about chimes). The kicker is that ridiculous 5:50 am call where Joe says “Hi Sarah, don’t go back to the house. I’m okay, Victor’s okay, Dylan’s okay, but I have to go and I’ll explain later.” Self-serving much? To me, it just smacks of something one does to pretend Sarah wouldn’t have a way of knowing NOT to go home.

  7. Anactoria
    06/24/2009 at 2:56 PM

    Whether or not Sarah was there, I agree with NYer that the stuff was probably hidden (or disposed of) nearby. Why else plant a decoy knife, if not to forestall a thorough search of the area? (If they were worried that a search of Dylan’s room would turn up the set with the missing knife, why not get rid of the whole set?) I agree with a lot of what Bea says, but I’m not ready to believe that Joe ran downstairs for a kitchen knife (and improvised the blood-wiping within 5 minutes) just because of some little gaffe Victor made on the 911 call.

  8. Themis
    06/24/2009 at 3:44 PM

    I still go back to the observation that the police didn’t seek a warrant specifically for Sarah’s apartment for some number of days after the murder. If they felt that the original warrants encompassed her apartment, why would they then seek a specific warrant for her apartment?

  9. Craig
    06/24/2009 at 3:59 PM

    Good question Themis: If Sarah’s apartment was a stand-alone, separately metered apartment rental unit I could understand why separate warrants could be necessary, but she came and went through the front door and it was an in-law suite, or a basement bedroom more than anything else.

    Her staircase to the upstairs brought her to the first floor of 1509. They were hardly separate units.

    • CDinDC
      06/24/2009 at 4:59 PM

      I assume her mail came to 1509’s mailbox, as well. I would imagine she would be considered a “roommate” and not a renter.

  10. Craig
    06/24/2009 at 6:15 PM

    There’s just one mail slot @ 1509, on the front door. We’re learning more about Sarah and roomie/member of the family is far more accurate than renter. Maybe we can cobble it together for a post next week.

  11. Doug
    06/24/2009 at 6:55 PM

    We’re looking into this. As Craig mentions, it appears from this distance that Sarah Morgan was more than just a tenant.
    We will endeavor to learn more in the coming days.
    Thanks as always for offering thoughts;
    -Doug, co-editor

  12. CuriousInVa
    06/24/2009 at 9:01 PM

    I am fascinated by Sarah Morgan and what she may or may not know. There have been little tidbits thrown out here and there in the comments (like the item about her attending the party for Dylan at Halo and things seeming strained btwn her and the boys) but it seems like there must be more info out there!

  13. 06/24/2009 at 10:39 PM

    What would Sarah order?!

    • 06/25/2009 at 8:04 AM

      a banana split and french fries. word on the street is that she is a full-figured lane bryant type girl.

    • Craig
      06/25/2009 at 11:52 AM

      Sarah’s good pals Tom & John would know exactly what she’d order. We’ve learned a few things about that duo as well.

      • Bea
        06/25/2009 at 1:26 PM

        You tease!

      • Fascinating
        06/25/2009 at 3:42 PM

        Supporting characters getting their own episode soon?

        • Craig
          06/25/2009 at 3:58 PM

          Tom and John remain somewhat shadowy; Sarah is still in the area and Phelps Collins returns to court in a couple weeks. Who are we forgetting?

          • CDinDC
            06/25/2009 at 4:04 PM

            Michael and Company? Any updates on them?

            • Bea
              06/25/2009 at 5:59 PM

              Oh, and the “interior designer” some poster mentioned was at the Cosi eatery right after the interrogation. Besides saying he’s a “hottie” I mean.

              • 06/25/2009 at 7:25 PM

                that was my tip, bea. from a reliable source. still need to get a name or initials for the gang here.

              • 06/25/2009 at 7:26 PM

                that was me; i will get more details.

          • Bea
            06/25/2009 at 5:57 PM

            I know there are two posters who claim to know Tom and John (though they say each other’s impressions are incorrect). I’d love to hear more from them about what they’re like, where they live (so far away that Sarah can’t go home to sleep in her own bed on a ‘school night’?), how thick they are with the trio (or any of them).

  14. galoon
    06/24/2009 at 11:40 PM

    Good post Craig.

  15. Themis
    06/25/2009 at 9:54 PM

    I know most people will disagree with my conclusion that, more likely than not, the DC MPD did not search Sarah’s house before they obtained a warrant specific to that location . . . . But I am used to playing the role of Cassandra.

    I have talked to criminal defense colleagues and most, though not all, agree with me that the fact that the case agent felt he needed to seek a specific warrant for the basement apartments means that the MPD likely did not conduct a search of the apartment before then.

    I completely agree that given the circumstances as they are (murkily) known today, the police could have used a search warrant for the premises of the entire building. But the issue remains as to whether or not the MPD would have proceeded on the assumption that they could search the basement apartment and that they thought that they would find anything of value. Given the department’s demonstrated ineptitude to date, I think that both assumptions are suspect.

    And as a criminal defense attorney, I generally assume that cops search/arrest people first and come up with an explanation afterward. And I just don’t feel like I can do that in this case. Then again, I am not representing the defendants.

    It will be interesting to see if any suppression motions are filed.

    • Craig
      06/26/2009 at 11:11 AM

      Themis – Thanks for this.

      At what point would we start seeing suppression motions? And what other motions could surface ahead of the trial?

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