The Front Page

Dateline: Swann Street

Legendary muckraker and irritant I.F. Stone is credited with this critique of the Washington Post: “It’s a great newspaper.  You never know on what page you’ll find a front-page story.”

On August 4, 2006 they got it right; news of Robert’s murder was front-page of the Metro section.  This is where we first see some of the crime’s details and elements of the defendants’ narrative emerge: no signs of forced entry into the home, MPD “interviewing” other residents of the 1509 Swann, whether anything was stolen from the home and lastly the  ‘intruder’  theory/alibi.

newspaperLooking back, an interesting line jumps out from the article, attributed only to a “source familiar with the case.”   The Post reported that “…an intruder broke into the house and found Wone, who had just gone to bed, on the first floor.”

Divining who this source may have been isn’t easy.  Was it MPD or someone close to the then-suspects?  An MPD official would’ve certainly have known it was the second floor that Robert was on.  The mention of the both ‘intruder’ and knowing Robert “had just gone to bed,” sounds like someone who may have had an inside track.

 

Lawyer Killed In Stabbing At Rowhouse In Northwest

Allison Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer  4 August 2006, B01

A lawyer known for being active in the Asian American community was stabbed to death Wednesday night at a townhouse in Northwest Washington, police said.

Robert Wone, 32, who lived in Oakton, was discovered about 11:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW, on the eastern edge of the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Police have made no arrests.

Detectives are looking into the possibility that Wone was killed by an intruder who broke into the home, which sits in the middle of the block on a narrow, tree-lined street.  Wone was stabbed in the chest three times with a butcher knife, police said.

For the past month, Wone had been general counsel for Radio Free Asia, a nonprofit group that broadcasts news in Asian countries that do not have free media. Before that, he had worked for six years as an associate at the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington.

Wone, who grew up in New York, was president-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Washington area chapter.

“We are devastated,” said Sarah Jackson-Han, communications director for Radio Free Asia. “He had been here since July, and he had already made a terrific impression on everyone. He was a self-effacing, charming, lovely guy.”

Wone lived in (Oakton, VA) with his wife, Katherine Wone, whom he married in 2003.  She did not wish to speak with reporters yesterday, according to someone who answered the door at the home.

A source familiar with the case said Wone was working late Wednesday night and had stayed at a friend’s house rather than drive home to Oakton.  The source said an intruder broke into the house and found Wone, who had just gone to bed, on the first floor.

Officials would not confirm this account, saying detectives were investigating.  There were no immediate signs of forced entry into the house, said an investigator, who did not want to be identified because the case is open.

Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the police department’s violent crimes unit, said yesterday that detectives were interviewing the other people who were in the home at the time.  Morris did not say how many people live there.

Nobody else in the home was attacked, Morris said.  “We’re trying to find out if anything was taken from the home,” he said.

In the hours before he was killed, Wone spent time with John Lindburg, general counsel of Radio Free Europe.  Lindburg, who has been in the business for many years, said he had taken an immediate liking to Wone and was “taking him under my wing.”

“He had a very, very promising life ahead of him,” Lindburg said.

The two got sandwiches at a Subway restaurant on H Street downtown, then attended a course on grant law offered by the D.C. Bar Association from 6 to 9 p.m., Lindburg said.

About 9:30 p.m., Lindburg went home, and Wone told him he was going back to the office, on M Street downtown.  It was unclear whether Wone made it there.  Jackson-Han said it was not unusual for Wone to be at work at unconventional hours.

“This past weekend, he came in just to see what happened on the weekends,” she said. “And he brought ice cream for the staff.”

Wone was raised in New York, but his family emigrated from southern China, Jackson-Han said.  He received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  He then got a clerkship in Norfolk with Raymond A. Jackson, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Jackson performed the wedding ceremony for the Wones at the Wyndham Northwest Chicago Hotel in Itasca, Ill., according to a wedding announcement published in the New York Times.

In 2000, Wone joined Covington & Burling, where he was an associate focusing on employment law and commercial real estate.  While there, he donated time to several community organizations, including the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, where he offered legal advice to merchants in the District.  Jeanne Turner, a secretary at Covington & Burling, described Wone as “an extremely dedicated attorney” who was efficient in the office and spent a lot of time helping people outside the office.

“Robert was a very kind, gentle, caring person,” Turner said. “He was well respected by all his colleagues. When I think of Robert, I think of a beautiful smile.”

Staff writer Karin Brulliard and staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

Later today – more of the first reports filed from Associated Press and the Richmond Times Dispatch.

-Craig

36 comments for “The Front Page

  1. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 12:39 PM

    Yes, that “source” (or Price spokesperson) also apparently spun “the impromptu, too-tired-to-go-to Oakton” version of why Robert was at the Swann. Yikes!

  2. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 12:39 PM

    Yes, that “source” (or Price spokesperson) also apparently spun “the impromptu, too-tired-to-go-to Oakton” version of why Robert was at the Swann. Yikes!

  3. des
    08/04/2009 at 12:47 PM

    ok, so does the “1st floor” comment possibly mean that robert/robert’s body was at some point on the first floor and then they changed their mind and moved him? (or some variation of the above.)
    or does it have no significance at all and is possibly just someone misspeaking?

    • AnnaZed
      08/10/2009 at 12:26 AM

      Maybe someone is English; in England the first floor is what we call the second floor and what we call the first floor is called the ground floor.

    • CDinDC
      08/10/2009 at 9:03 AM

      Since that tidbit was never mentioned again, I believe it may have been someone misspeaking.

  4. des
    08/04/2009 at 12:47 PM

    ok, so does the “1st floor” comment possibly mean that robert/robert’s body was at some point on the first floor and then they changed their mind and moved him? (or some variation of the above.)
    or does it have no significance at all and is possibly just someone misspeaking?

    • AnnaZed
      08/10/2009 at 12:26 AM

      Maybe someone is English; in England the first floor is what we call the second floor and what we call the first floor is called the ground floor.

    • CDinDC
      08/10/2009 at 9:03 AM

      Since that tidbit was never mentioned again, I believe it may have been someone misspeaking.

  5. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 1:08 PM

    The writer of the article took a bit of liberty at saying the weapon was a “butcher knife.” Not exactly.

    I also read an article not too long ago that said Wone was murdered in his own home.

    Perhaps it was just a slip up since information on the case was so fresh

    .

    • Craig
      08/04/2009 at 3:27 PM

      I’d love to know who was saying what to whom, and on who’s direction, official and otherwise.

      We’ll dig into the archives later for a future post. It’s interesting to note the progression of language, spokespersons (named and otherwise) and facts that surfaced in the early weeks of the investigation and reporting.

      This one article had an unnamed “source,” an unnamed “official,” and an “investigator, who did not want to be identified because the case is open.”

      Then of course MPD’s Capt. Morris did speak on the record.

  6. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 1:08 PM

    The writer of the article took a bit of liberty at saying the weapon was a “butcher knife.” Not exactly.

    I also read an article not too long ago that said Wone was murdered in his own home.

    Perhaps it was just a slip up since information on the case was so fresh

    .

    • Craig
      08/04/2009 at 3:27 PM

      I’d love to know who was saying what to whom, and on who’s direction, official and otherwise.

      We’ll dig into the archives later for a future post. It’s interesting to note the progression of language, spokespersons (named and otherwise) and facts that surfaced in the early weeks of the investigation and reporting.

      This one article had an unnamed “source,” an unnamed “official,” and an “investigator, who did not want to be identified because the case is open.”

      Then of course MPD’s Capt. Morris did speak on the record.

  7. Corgivet
    08/04/2009 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks for running these articles…..they are very helpful to those of us who are just getting involved.

  8. Corgivet
    08/04/2009 at 3:07 PM

    Thanks for running these articles…..they are very helpful to those of us who are just getting involved.

  9. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 3:18 PM

    The following, however, was the very different news given to us in the Virginian provinces on that day; see the copied text of the following email that I received on the afternoon of August 4, 2006 (Joe’s comment on “activist judges” seems particularly ironic, given the pending Sotomayor vote):

    Equality Virginia News
    Friday, August 4, 2006

    EQUALITY VIRGINIA APPLAUDS VERMONT SUPREME COURT RULING IN LESBIAN
    CUSTODY CASE

    Today, the Vermont Supreme Court issued a ruling that stated that
    Vermont courts, and not those in Virginia, have jurisdiction over a
    two-state custody dispute between a former lesbian couple who had
    entered into a legal civil union in that state.

    “We applaud that a court got it right today,” said Jay Squires, Equality
    Virginia Education Fund Board Chair, which is serving as co-counsel to
    Janet Miller-Jenkins, who still resides in Vermont and was seeking to
    uphold the custody order. “Both state and federal laws say that a court
    order granting custody can’t be overturned by going to another state
    court and shopping for a second opinion. This decision is consistent
    with the federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and Parental
    Kidnapping Protection Act that are designed to prohibit just this type
    of ‘forum shopping’.”

    The case is part of a two-year, two-state custody dispute between two
    women who entered into a legal civil union in Vermont and had a
    daughter together . It is similar to many cases brought every day
    involving parents who are seeking to dissolve their legal unions and
    determine custody of their children.

    Lead Counsel, Joseph Price of the Washington, DC firm Arent Fox, also a
    member of the Equality Virginia Education Fund Board said, “I am
    personally gratified for Janet. I hope this decision sets a clear
    precedent that an activist judge can’t overturn settled federal and
    state law governing custody disputes.”

    The couple separated in 2003 and obtained an order regarding their
    daughter in the process of dissolving their civil union. Lisa
    Miller-Jenkins, the biological parent, refused to honor the custody
    order and took the couple’s daughter and fled to Virginia.

    With the help of two anti-gay groups, Vermont Renewal and the Liberty
    Counsel, Lisa filed a petition on July 1, 2004 (the date HB 751, or the
    “Affirmation of Marriage Act” went into effect) in Frederick County,
    Virginia asking a judge to declare that Janet had no legal parental
    rights and refusing the Vermont court’s jurisdiction in the case. The
    trial judge used HB 751 as a justification to ignore federal law,
    finding in Lisa’s favor. Janet Miller-Jenkins, with the support of Arent
    Fox, Equality Virginia Education Fund, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of
    Virginia appealed the judge’s decision to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
    A ruling is expected from that court in the next few weeks.

    You can read the full text of the Court’s ruling at
    http://dol.state.vt.us/gopher_root3/supct/current/2004-443.op
    (http://dol.state.vt.us/gopher_root3/supct/current/2004-443.op).

    -30-

    Equality Virginia (www.EqualityVirginia.org
    (http://www.equalityvirginia.org/)) is Virginia’s statewide non-partisan
    lobbying, education and support organization for the GLBT community in
    Virginia. Founded in 1989, EV has members across the Commonwealth. EV
    seeks equality for all Virginians by lobbying the General Assembly,
    organizing communities and educating the public.

    To unsubscribe from this mailing, please go to
    http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?ID=M7186230712068085332404365

  10. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 3:18 PM

    The following, however, was the very different news given to us in the Virginian provinces on that day; see the copied text of the following email that I received on the afternoon of August 4, 2006 (Joe’s comment on “activist judges” seems particularly ironic, given the pending Sotomayor vote):

    Equality Virginia News
    Friday, August 4, 2006

    EQUALITY VIRGINIA APPLAUDS VERMONT SUPREME COURT RULING IN LESBIAN
    CUSTODY CASE

    Today, the Vermont Supreme Court issued a ruling that stated that
    Vermont courts, and not those in Virginia, have jurisdiction over a
    two-state custody dispute between a former lesbian couple who had
    entered into a legal civil union in that state.

    “We applaud that a court got it right today,” said Jay Squires, Equality
    Virginia Education Fund Board Chair, which is serving as co-counsel to
    Janet Miller-Jenkins, who still resides in Vermont and was seeking to
    uphold the custody order. “Both state and federal laws say that a court
    order granting custody can’t be overturned by going to another state
    court and shopping for a second opinion. This decision is consistent
    with the federal Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and Parental
    Kidnapping Protection Act that are designed to prohibit just this type
    of ‘forum shopping’.”

    The case is part of a two-year, two-state custody dispute between two
    women who entered into a legal civil union in Vermont and had a
    daughter together . It is similar to many cases brought every day
    involving parents who are seeking to dissolve their legal unions and
    determine custody of their children.

    Lead Counsel, Joseph Price of the Washington, DC firm Arent Fox, also a
    member of the Equality Virginia Education Fund Board said, “I am
    personally gratified for Janet. I hope this decision sets a clear
    precedent that an activist judge can’t overturn settled federal and
    state law governing custody disputes.”

    The couple separated in 2003 and obtained an order regarding their
    daughter in the process of dissolving their civil union. Lisa
    Miller-Jenkins, the biological parent, refused to honor the custody
    order and took the couple’s daughter and fled to Virginia.

    With the help of two anti-gay groups, Vermont Renewal and the Liberty
    Counsel, Lisa filed a petition on July 1, 2004 (the date HB 751, or the
    “Affirmation of Marriage Act” went into effect) in Frederick County,
    Virginia asking a judge to declare that Janet had no legal parental
    rights and refusing the Vermont court’s jurisdiction in the case. The
    trial judge used HB 751 as a justification to ignore federal law,
    finding in Lisa’s favor. Janet Miller-Jenkins, with the support of Arent
    Fox, Equality Virginia Education Fund, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of
    Virginia appealed the judge’s decision to the Virginia Court of Appeals.
    A ruling is expected from that court in the next few weeks.

    You can read the full text of the Court’s ruling at
    http://dol.state.vt.us/gopher_root3/supct/current/2004-443.op
    (http://dol.state.vt.us/gopher_root3/supct/current/2004-443.op).

    -30-

    Equality Virginia (www.EqualityVirginia.org
    (http://www.equalityvirginia.org/)) is Virginia’s statewide non-partisan
    lobbying, education and support organization for the GLBT community in
    Virginia. Founded in 1989, EV has members across the Commonwealth. EV
    seeks equality for all Virginians by lobbying the General Assembly,
    organizing communities and educating the public.

    To unsubscribe from this mailing, please go to
    http://www.kintera.org/TR.asp?ID=M7186230712068085332404365

  11. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 6:47 PM

    Here’s an interesting line from an October 9, 2006 WaPo article:

    “Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said detectives are waiting for the FBI to complete tests on blood and other items from the crime scene. Police want the FBI to treat the case with urgency, Ramsey said, and hope to get the results in a matter of weeks or months.”

    Oh really?

  12. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 6:47 PM

    Here’s an interesting line from an October 9, 2006 WaPo article:

    “Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said detectives are waiting for the FBI to complete tests on blood and other items from the crime scene. Police want the FBI to treat the case with urgency, Ramsey said, and hope to get the results in a matter of weeks or months.”

    Oh really?

  13. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 6:51 PM

    I found this line from the same article very interesting:

    “‘More than a week before he died, Wone told his wife that he planned to work late Aug. 2, attending a seminar and then making a stop at Radio Free Asia to meet the night staff. He said he might stay over in the city and visit an old friend — either Price or another William & Mary alum. …..

    ‘I thought it was a great idea,’ she recalled. ‘Our marriage was such that I completely trusted and supported pretty much anything he wanted to pursue.’

    A few days later, she said, her husband told her that he’d stay at Price’s house.”

    Robert had also thought of staying at another friend’s place.

    • WH
      08/05/2009 at 9:46 AM

      My guess for the other friend would be Jason Torchinsky…am I right, Jason?

      • CDinDC
        08/05/2009 at 9:55 AM

        Jason Torchinsky has an Arlington address. If it was Jason, perhaps Robert felt it easiest to stay in the city and avoid a metro ride all together. Or there was another friend all together that we aren’t aware of.

        • WH
          08/05/2009 at 10:02 AM

          Quite possible indeed, CD! It was just a guess, and definitely an uneducated one at that…

          • CDinDC
            08/05/2009 at 10:57 AM

            Either way, it’s so incredibly sad that there had been alternative.

            When I read that article I just sat and thought about the seemingly innocent choices we all make every day, and how sometimes those decisions make an indelible impact on our lives.

          • Clio
            08/05/2009 at 10:59 AM

            And, for future historians, Jason is a fellow member of the bar (not the DC Eagle) and is male. Beyond that, let me also guess: he’s not into alt.com. What a fatal choice to stay at the Swann that it was, a routine decision partly and probably made out of purely logistical reasons!

  14. CDinDC
    08/04/2009 at 6:51 PM

    I found this line from the same article very interesting:

    “‘More than a week before he died, Wone told his wife that he planned to work late Aug. 2, attending a seminar and then making a stop at Radio Free Asia to meet the night staff. He said he might stay over in the city and visit an old friend — either Price or another William & Mary alum. …..

    ‘I thought it was a great idea,’ she recalled. ‘Our marriage was such that I completely trusted and supported pretty much anything he wanted to pursue.’

    A few days later, she said, her husband told her that he’d stay at Price’s house.”

    Robert had also thought of staying at another friend’s place.

    • WH
      08/05/2009 at 9:46 AM

      My guess for the other friend would be Jason Torchinsky…am I right, Jason?

      • CDinDC
        08/05/2009 at 9:55 AM

        Jason Torchinsky has an Arlington address. If it was Jason, perhaps Robert felt it easiest to stay in the city and avoid a metro ride all together. Or there was another friend all together that we aren’t aware of.

        • WH
          08/05/2009 at 10:02 AM

          Quite possible indeed, CD! It was just a guess, and definitely an uneducated one at that…

          • CDinDC
            08/05/2009 at 10:57 AM

            Either way, it’s so incredibly sad that there had been alternative.

            When I read that article I just sat and thought about the seemingly innocent choices we all make every day, and how sometimes those decisions make an indelible impact on our lives.

          • Clio
            08/05/2009 at 10:59 AM

            And, for future historians, Jason is a fellow member of the bar (not the DC Eagle) and is male. Beyond that, let me also guess: he’s not into alt.com. What a fatal choice to stay at the Swann that it was, a routine decision partly and probably made out of purely logistical reasons!

  15. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 9:44 PM

    Fascinating. Thanks, CD, that wrinkle has not been highlighted before. Of course, that raises the possibly unanswerable question of whose home then was the other option for Robert to stay over that night, besides the other homeowner also being a W&M alum?

    • Just Another Friend
      08/05/2009 at 9:32 AM

      I’m just sorry that Robert chose the wrong host for that night. Another very sad twist in the story.

      • CDinDC
        08/05/2009 at 9:42 AM

        Tragically sad.

  16. Clio
    08/04/2009 at 9:44 PM

    Fascinating. Thanks, CD, that wrinkle has not been highlighted before. Of course, that raises the possibly unanswerable question of whose home then was the other option for Robert to stay over that night, besides the other homeowner also being a W&M alum?

    • Just Another Friend
      08/05/2009 at 9:32 AM

      I’m just sorry that Robert chose the wrong host for that night. Another very sad twist in the story.

      • CDinDC
        08/05/2009 at 9:42 AM

        Tragically sad.

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