Ask The Chief…And She Shall Answer

What “Active Investigation” Means…And May Suggest.

Caller, turn down your radio...As promised, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier was the guest on WTOP’s “Ask The Chief” morning program.  You can catch the whole thing here.

About eight minutes in, “Craig” phoned with this question:

Craig: A couple of weeks ago you said that this was still an active investigation; I’m just wondering if you can comment on that a little bit, whether or not evidence is still being collected and processed, if suspects are being interviewed, and just if you’re able to characterize how the investigation is going on the MPD end right now.

Lanier:  “Sure, obviously there is very little that I can say.  But when I refer to a case and stay it’s still a very active investigation that’s exactly what it means. 

There’s still a lot of investigative work that’s going on as well as processing of evidence.  As you, I’m sure know, there was a lot of evidence that was collected from that scene and that takes a lot of time. 

So there’s still a lot of activity on the case, I know the detectives are still working very hard as well as on the forensics side, so because it is ongoing it is very difficult for me to go beyond that in the comments.”

This may be Chief Lanier’s most extenstive public statement to date on the Wone case.  But what was she really saying? 

“There’s still a lot of investigative work that’s going on as well as processing of evidence.”  The word “process” here seems to speak more to forensic analysis than actual investigation.  For example, could she be referring to the drop of blood found on the blanket in Dylan Ward’s bedroom?  The hair found in the guestroom that doesn’t match any of the three housemates?  New tests on the last remaining cc’s of Robert’s blood?

“…there was a lot of evidence that was collected from that scene…” Weeks of evidence apparently, leaving the house largely a wreck.  But how much potential evidence – like Robert’s BlackBerry – was overlooked, and how much more was ruined because of poor procedures – such as the mistakes made with Ashley’s Reagent?

“…I know the detectives are still working very hard as well as on the forensics side…” This is the first and so far only reference to any actual detective work continuing.  Could this include further interviews with Swann Street housemate Sarah Morgan, or brother Michael Price?  Discussions with colleagues at IDFA, Arent Fox or Equality Virginia? 

What could detectives possibly be uncovering now that three years of work before missed?

-posted by Doug

13 comments for “Ask The Chief…And She Shall Answer

  1. Michael
    09/03/2009 at 5:14 PM

    I fail to understand how it takes almost 3 years to process and test forensic evidence. That is 3/4 of the term of the US President.

    MPD continues to demonstrate a reactive rather than proactive approach to crime prevention and investigation. Where is the leadership in this and many other cases?

    This is a travesty for the capital of the free world.

    – Michael, co-editor

  2. Clio
    09/03/2009 at 10:28 PM

    The Chief used the word “very” four times in her reply to Craig above. Very little, very active, very hard, and very difficult: which adjective after “very” is the most descriptive of reality, one wonders?

    There were also four uses of “a lot” above. How much is “a lot?” Is “a lot” part and parcel of the same hype/spin as “very?” One must hope that it is not!

    Finally, there were two uses of “as well as” in her answer. Does that mean that “a lot” of loose ends remain after three long years? Probably. Ugh!

    • Mike
      09/04/2009 at 10:44 AM

      Clio, your question about adjectives is interesting. Chief of Police is a demanding job but its chief prerequisites seem to be communication and organizational skills. First thing you learn in any communications class is never to use the word “very.” If you need to put “very” in front of an adjective, you are using the wrong adjective.

      Does the Chief possess a rudimentary vocabulary (odd for a communications-heavy post) or is “very” (as well as “a lot”) an instance of the lady protesting too much? Maybe throwing extreme qualifiers into her replies is a cover for the fact that nothing substantial is being done on this embarrassing case.

      • CDinDC
        09/04/2009 at 11:19 AM

        Wow. That must be a pain in the arse to keep up with.

        So instead of saying it’s a “very active investigation” she should have used a more appropriate synonym for “active”. How about “lively?” It’s a lively investigation. Nah.

        How about “assiduous”. The detectives are assiduously investigating the matter. Ooo. I like that one.

        Let see if the Chief drops her “verys” and starts using another adjective. Might mean she’s keeping up with the blog. Or took a Communications class.

        • Mike
          09/04/2009 at 1:56 PM

          Dizzyingly strenuous. All-consuming. Obessively, earth-scorchingly arduous.

          Make an effort, dude.

          • CDinDC
            09/05/2009 at 10:37 PM

            Mike, I’m a bit confused over your follow-up post to my post. My post was meant to be nothing but silly. Did you take offense to my post? I actually found your tidbit about communications class interesting. I’m not understanding what seems to be a slam. Dude.

            and Clio, I’m not so sure why you joined in.

            Geez everybody. Lighten up.

            • Mike
              09/06/2009 at 7:22 AM

              CD – I was only joking with the “dude” thing. Not a slam. I’m sorry if my vague post was misconstrued. Sometimes I’m not sure if everyone gets my attempts at “humor,” but for future reference I’m as silly as they come!

              • CDinDC
                09/06/2009 at 3:39 PM

                Cool, Mike. We need levity on this site sometimes.

    • Mike
      09/05/2009 at 7:11 AM

      Oh yeah, just to make it “very, very” clear – my joke was not at your expense, Clio. I was just annoyed / amused by all the “verys.”

      • Clio
        09/05/2009 at 1:26 PM

        LOL! Mike, are you thinking of CD? Anyway, no offense is perceived or taken here.

        It is truly annoying that the MPD is taking so long: would this slow-walking be tolerated in nearby eastern Virginia? On the very different federal court side, of course, the sainted Judge Walter E. Hoffman long ago made eastern Virginia into the “rocket docket.” It is clear, from the Wone murder alone, that no one would characterize the DC criminal courts and investigations in the same way.

        I trust that the Chief and her team, though, are much better at the forensics of the physical sciences than at the forensics of the liberal arts. Fingers crossed, again!

        • CDinDC
          09/05/2009 at 10:29 PM


          • Clio
            09/06/2009 at 11:56 AM

            CD, dearest, I joined in because Mike dropped my name in reference to your post, most probably by mistake. I understood your humor, but it may not have been initially read that way by Mike.

            Our point still remains: this is all taking way too long!

            • CDinDC
              09/06/2009 at 3:42 PM

              Unfortunately, Clio, we may never see the result we are looking for. 🙁 I try to be optimistic though. If they are continuing to process evidence from the crime scene as Lanier claims, maybe we will get what we are all hoping for.

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