A Spike in Murders? Hold a News Conference
Three years ago this past weekend marked the anniversary of the announcement of the “crime emergency” in the District of Columbia. On July 11, 2006, twenty days before the murder of Robert Wone, then DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey declared a “crime emergency,” after a recent surge in homicides in the District.
The defense may use this “crime emergency” to help support the “intruder theory.” Their argument will be that in the midst of an outbreak of crime and murders in DC, it is very plausable that an “intruder” would break into 1509 Swann Street and murder one of the occupants.
Let’s look exactly at what was going on at the time, and if the Swann Street murder was in line with the type of crimes that caused this emergency to be declared.
This was the fourth “crime emergency” that Ramsey declared since becoming Police Chief in 1998, which evens out to about one every two years. There were 13 homicides in the District between July 1 and the date Ramsey declared the emergency.
Even with the spike though, Metropolitan Police Department records show that violent crime was down nearly 6 percent over the same period the year before. More directly, the number of homicides was exactly equal to one year before — 94. But the number of robberies had increased by 14 percent. Ramsey was concerned that robberies could easily turn into homicides.
There was speculation that the reason for the “crime emergency” was an election year in the district, and there was a very heated 5 way primary race for Mayor to succeed retiring Mayor Anthony Williams.
Of the 13 murders in July that precipitated the emergency, all them were committed with a gun, except for one, which was a rape attack on a group in Georgetown, with one member of the group, a British tourist who subsequently died of knife wounds. The assailants were apprehended with a day of the crime.
The murder of Robert Wone on August 2, 2006 upon initial examination stands apart from the type of murders that were occurring in the area at that time. First, it was a murder with a knife, while the overwhelming majority of the other murders were committed by a gun. Second, many of the murders began as robberies, which maybe one of the reasons why the police in the affidavit of arrest for Dylan Ward focused on the fact that there was no forced entry to the property, and that no robbery was committed, especially in a house with many valuables possessions as targets.
Finally, the murder that occurred with a knife was in the open, not in a well-protected property, with several people in a group being randomly attacked, not one individual.
This is what probably lead Sgt. Brett Parson, liaison to the gay and lesbian community, to comment early in the case, “The evidence we have found so far would lead us to believe Mr. Wone was not the victim of some happenstance. This attack was specific towards him.” If the attack was a target, then the intruder knew several things in advance.
First, the intruder knew the house. He or she was able to move very quietly and judiciously right to their target without any of the occupants of the house hearing. Second, the intruder knew that Robert Wone was staying at the house on the night of August 2, 2006. Maybe the intruder had a tip that Robert was staying there, which means that all the communications, electronic and otherwise, about Robert’s decision to stay at the house prior to that night are crucial to this case.
Third, if the intruder was just looking to murder someone, the easiest target would have been Dylan Ward because his room was on the second floor right off the stairs. Clearly the intruder passed Dylan Ward’s room and headed to the guest room. Fourth, because Robert was Chinese and the other three occupants of the house are white, the chance the intruder made a mistake is extremely minimal.
Maybe Robert encountered the intruder first, and the intruder was looking for someone else, Robert fell victim, and the intruder became afraid and fled. This scenario seems highly unlikely because the lack of defensive wounds founds on Robert’s body do not support this theory.
What seems apparent is that Robert’s murder was an extreme outlier of the type causing the “crime emergency.” The intruder theory would hold greater weight if Robert had been found shot, the house was in greater disarray, and valuable possessions had been stolen.
What was typical was the District’s feeble attempt to combat crime and solve murders. While early numbers show that DC murders are down by 20% this year, although it appears there are nearly 35 still unsolved at 2009’s midway point. It sounds like it’s time for another news conference.
— Posted by David