Come Out, Come Out…

…Whoever You Are.

October 10, 2006 saw the first national story about Robert’s murder in the gay media.  Gretchen Cook of the Advocate was playing catch up.

AdvocateMonthly magazine long lead times don’t lend themselves well to late developments.  Much of what she offered had surfaced in the August 14 Legal Times bombshell (which first mentioned the crime scene was tampered with), and the August 16 follow up Post piece.

But she had a couple of new nuggets including one that would resurface years later.  Did Gretchen have a special source or did other reporters miss a biggie?

Written through a gay lens, Sgt. Brett Parson of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit figures prominently.  Other outlets reported his unit’s involvement in the investigation, but no one apparently asked him why his was assigned to it.  Gretchen did:

Nor would Parson discuss why his unit was involved.  “We do not out people,” he says.  “And to reveal why we were brought in on a case would potentially out someone.”

Hello?   How could anyone out the Swann Street roommates?  Could those three have possibly been any more out, loud, proud and public?  Equality VirginiaMiller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins, domestic partners, that kitchen?

But that wasn’t all.

We won’t fault Parsons on that; it sounds like a mandated talking point.  (His former unit, the GLLU, and several other “specialty units” appear on their way to being zeroed out by Chief Cathy Lanier).

Gretchen went on to profile the roommates and mentioned that the crime scene was “tampered with.”  But who her source for this item?

It [the affidavit] also said Wone may not have been killed in the second-floor guest room where he’d been found.

“Tampered with,” yes.  Moved?   Like how Joe told Officer Diane Durham they had carried Robert’s body upstairs?   No document we’ve seen from August 2006 mentioned “moved.”

This is a big point but it was Gretchen’s next-to-last sentence.  For space consideration alone her editor could easily have lobbed that off.

Was someone close to the investigation getting chatty?  And how was it the gay paper caught wind of this major point?

Don’t get us wrong, we admire the work of the gay press, but if an official is going to start peddling significant news on an active and evolving investigation, we would’ve suggested going to an outlet with a little more throw-weight.

Allison Klein, Henri CauvinPaul Schwarzman or Paul Duggan would’ve been more than happy to take that call.


Murder in D.C.: a straight lawyer is found stabbed in the home of a gay friend and his partner.

A series of startling twists has followed, but no one is talking.

When Robert Wone was found stabbed to death in a row house in Washington, D.C.’s predominantly gay Dupont Circle neighborhood on August 2, it appeared to be just another brutal killing in the nation’s “murder capital.”  But the death of Wone, a 32-year-old lawyer, has since unfolded into a bizarre mystery that the city police force’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit and the FBI have been called to investigate.

At press time no one had been charged in the killing. Wone was stabbed three times in the chest with a butcher knife around 11 P.M.  He had worked late that night and decided to stay at the home of college friend Joseph Price rather than making the 45-minute drive home to his wife in the Virginia suburbs.

Price and his partner, Victor Zaborsky, told police that Wone was killed by an intruder who came through the back door.  They said they heard nothing, though the house was described to The Advocate as “like a sardine can inside” by a source familiar with the couple.  The two men immediately hired lawyers and refused to comment.  Police initially said there was no evidence of a forced entry, although they had not ruled out a burglary gone bad in an area that has had several violent attacks in the past year.

Three days after the murder, however, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit was called in, and authorities said they believed Wone had been targeted. “Mr. Wone was not the victim of some happenstance,” says Sgt. Brett Parson, who heads the unit. “This attack was specific towards him.”

But police would not give any possible motive for targeting Wone, who met Price, general counsel for the gay rights group Equality Virginia, while studying at the College of William and Mary.  Nor would Parson discuss why his unit was involved. “We do not out people,” he says. “And to reveal why we were brought in on a case would potentially out someone.”

Wone, who worked in D.C. as general counsel for Radio Free Asia, never represented himself as gay, says a friend who declined to be identified, adding that in “no way was he leading any kind of double life.”

Making matters murkier, the couple’s roommate, Dylan Ward, had also been in the house the night of the murder.  “Some of the information we were told, I just don’t believe,” Capt. C.V. Morris told reporters at an August 3 briefing.  A police affidavit seeking a search warrant for the house also said the knife used in the murder was from a set found in the kitchen, and nothing in the house appeared to have been ransacked or taken.

But the most startling twist came the week after the murder, when it was learned from the affidavit that the crime scene had been cleaned and apparently “tampered with.”  It also said Wone may not have been killed in the second-floor guest room where he’d been found.

A grand jury has convened in the case, but at press time only Wone’s wife, Katherine, had been called to testify.

posted by Craig

23 comments for “Come Out, Come Out…

  1. Clio
    10/21/2009 at 12:59 PM

    Sgt. Parson’s parsings definitely show why separate is definitely not equal. His legalese gives the off-putting impression that his special unit did not want to out Mr. Wone as heterosexual, at least not to the pink press, because it would lessen his unit’s importance. And, thanks to Brett’s talking points, the speculation then centers on the victim, not on the trouple’s peculiar penchants for bedroom fun. Sad!

    The couple’s roommate? Please. Even Gretchen swallowed that whopper! You would think that the Advocate of all media vehicles would have uncovered the unconventional nature of the sexual and emotional arrangements at 1509 Swann.

    The “sardine can” imagery comes “straight” from the police, not “a source close to the couple.”

    • Craig
      10/21/2009 at 1:32 PM

      Speaking of the pink press, today’s Washington Post Style section front-paged a nice feature on the Blade’s Lou Chibbaro.

      No one gets through a Style section profile without being dinged once or twice, but Lou did.

      His 30 years of notes, files and papers are going to G.W.U’s library. Congrats.

      • Clio
        10/24/2009 at 11:51 AM

        Editors, I agree with you on most things, but I must disagree on your implication that that kitchen’s spare decor and/or layout (at 1509 Swann) stem from gay male cultures or tastes. It might be overpriced and overrated, and its austereness may have consciously broadcast to visitors the lack of a woman’s touch, but, unfortunately, its stainless steel appliances and black granite countertops are only too mainstream.

  2. JusticeForRobert
    10/21/2009 at 7:41 PM

    Nor would Parson discuss why his unit was involved. “We do not out people,” he says. “And to reveal why we were brought in on a case would potentially out someone.”

    You have got to be kidding me! As if “outing” someone should be a level of concern when an innocent man has been raped and murdered. From a gay mans perspective, who came out late in life and paid, still pays the price for it, I say if it would find a killer, then out everyone!

    • Clio
      10/21/2009 at 8:54 PM

      So true, JFR!

      This article, though, does problematize the seemingly obvious: How “out” were the trouple to their families, colleagues, and acquaintances? Few knew about Dylan’s real role, and I’m sure Victor did not advertise his sexual orientation while advertising milk. Joe may have been a blowhard about his sexuality as he was about everything else that pertained to himself, but even his very public activism smacked more of the respectable boardroom rather than of the rough grassroots.

      In other words, the trouple seem on the surface to be garden-variety assimilationists — straight-acting gays. Dig deeper and their world becomes both much less conventional —, eyecandy.dvds, Uncle Dylan as territory applying for statehood — and even more conventional, if not downright traditional (for east Texas, the Prices’ ancestral home) — the patriarchy of Joseph Price — at the same time. Bizarre!

      • AnnaZed
        10/21/2009 at 11:59 PM

        Clio my dear, I’m not entirely with you on this analysis. I think after the USA Today article and Joe and Victor’s choice to not only be parents but to be the poster children (poster men?) for the bold new gay family that there could not be an inch of shadow left to hide in even if they wanted to. Sorry, I don’t see anything closeted about them.

        Now, as to if others knew of Dylan’s role as a sexual partner as well (the very existence of the trouple); I would think that would be a smaller group of people that contained few if any professional contacts, probably not their families and maybe not even the mother of their children. I would imagine that at work Joe and Victor played the conventional happily united couple.

        On the question of who knew about Joe and Dylan’s special tastes and their choice to invite strangers to participate in those tastes and their drug use? I would say that is a smaller sub-group.

        As to who knew that Joe was an asshole, a narcissist, a blow-hard and an alcoholic?

        Probably everyone.

      • Mike
        10/22/2009 at 7:07 AM

        This is actually a really great insight, Clio. What I see as your target is the strong tension between Joe and Victor’s secret lives (the drugs, porn, S&M, threesome, etc.) and their professional profiles. They spent their weekends in the underground but their weekdays in the boardroom. Usually we associate this kind of counter-cultural experimentation with (as you say) grassroots work or at least something decidedly non-corporate. We like to assume there’s more of an integration. Not so in their case; they are chameleons.

        In this context, “outing” Dylan Ward as their partner would have opened up a whole new can of worms. In modern gay culture there are various levels of being “out.”

        • David
          10/22/2009 at 10:35 AM

          Early in this Website’s life, we tackled this subject in the contradiction of Joe Price’s life…


          • Craig
            10/22/2009 at 11:12 AM

            And then there was this from May, ‘Washington Whispers’ that looked at who knew what about whom.

            • Clio
              10/22/2009 at 2:17 PM

              Thanks, all, for your responses.

              There is another seemingly trite question here, too: How comfortable were the trouple with their sexuality/sexual orientation/themselves? We know that they were out (sort of, at least as couple and colleague) and seemingly proud (kind of, in a faux Brooks Brothers type of way). Culuket described himself as “preppy.” Really?

              Self-hatred and internalized homophobia, though, seemed to be lurking behind the rainbow flag and lambda sign at 1509 Swann, and it would be coincident with sociopathic behavior. And, of course, those who hate themselves are the first to charge others with hatred or bigotry that is not there: hence, the defense claims of “gay-baiting.”

              • CDinDC
                10/22/2009 at 2:28 PM


                Guilt, shame and self-loathing are deep-seeded traits of narcissism. Aarcissist will often hate themselves or aspects of themselves, so they over-compensate.

                • Clio
                  10/22/2009 at 4:56 PM

                  So, Joe’s hard-charging civil rights work and his desire for torture and humiliation in private sprang from the same source: self-hatred shaped by narcissism. And, the dialectic between the extremes of Joe’s persona led to August 2, 2006, with satellites Dylan and Victor hating themselves even more (now) for going along with the kabuki dance of cover-up. Intriguing!

                  • CDinDC
                    10/22/2009 at 5:05 PM

                    The narcissism is shaped by self-hatred…..Average Joe’s become Super Joe’s to garner love and respect and all those things they crave because deep down inside they think they are a piece of crap.

                    • Clio
                      10/22/2009 at 7:24 PM

                      So, why would Victor, Dylan, Michael, etc. blindly follow (or defer to/be complicit with) someone who thinks of himself as a piece of crap? I guess that their self-loathing was/is even greater than that of Culuket. Or, their own self-medicating has had its own unexpected side effects!

                      And, a little bit of the collateral/collective self-hatred could be stemming from internalized homophobia, even for Michael who outed not only his own sexuality but his HIV status in a celebratory 2004 article from Los Angeles.

                      So, why was there this probable penchant for self-hatred on the Price brothers’ part in particular? What parts were these self-defeating qualities nature, and what parts were they nurture? And, for that answer, we would have to know more about Joe and Michael growing up, from their lowly origins in east Texas through their high school days in Bourne, Massachusetts.

  3. CDinDC
    10/22/2009 at 7:51 PM

    Clio says: “So, why would Victor, Dylan, Michael, etc. blindly follow (or defer to/be complicit with) someone who thinks of himself as a piece of crap?”

    Clio, I think NPD (Narc. Personality Disorder) is no different than any other personality disorder and/or addiction issue. People don’t necessarily know WHY they do something…they just do it. It would probably take years of therapy for Joe or any other narcissist to understand their actions.

    As far as Victor, he seems to me to be an example of an “abused housewife.” He went into the relationship of his dreams….wonderful boyfriend, buy a home together, have children, live the gay American dream, and then BAM!!!….”Victor, I want another lover because you can’t please me the way I want.” Self esteem out the window. Ripe for the narcissistic picking.

    Dylan? Low self esteem. Constantly searching for his place in life. Joe offered him a solution. Took him by the hand. Another narcissist’s dream personality.

    • Bea
      10/22/2009 at 9:26 PM

      Narcissists and folks with Borderline Personality Disorder (often but not always go together) are extremely good at drawing people in. Intelligent magnets, if you will, and very little sense of morality – nor guilt – if they immediately cut someone loose. Joe fits a lot of the traits:

      1. Grandiose sense of self-importance.
      2. Fantasies of and preoccupied with beauty, brilliance, ideal love, power, or unlimited success.
      3. A belief of being special and unique and can only be understood or a need to associate with people of high status.
      4. A need for excessive admiration.
      5. An unreasonable expectation of being treated with favour or excepting an automatic compliance to her / his wishes.
      6. Will use others to achieve her / his goals.
      7. Lacks empathy.
      8. Believes others are envious of her / him or is envious of others.
      9. Contemptuous or haughty attitudes / behaviours.

      Having personally been in a relationship with someone with NPD, it’s not pretty nor easy. I think Joe likely falls into the sociopath depths, but just wanted to add this, that Joe would certainly disagree that he’s self-loathing, and the facade he’s built is impenetrable.

      • CDinDC
        10/22/2009 at 10:20 PM

        Bea said “but just wanted to add this, that Joe would certainly disagree that he’s self-loathing, and the facade he’s built is impenetrable.”

        Agree 100%

      • John Grisham
        10/22/2009 at 10:33 PM

        Contemptuous or haughty attitudes / behaviours.?

        Please explain what you mean. Is this your list?

        • Bea
          10/23/2009 at 12:24 AM

          Hi John, it’s off a website about NPD, but they’re pretty universally accepted DSM traits of the disorder. Typically the narcissist (one to the extreme of having a ‘disorder’ in particular) believe themselves to be “above” everyone and don’t REALLY have to abide by the same rules. They tend to think, for example, that they SHOULD get the best table in a restaurant or need not stand in line like “the masses” waiting at the counter/bathroom/ticket line.

          • Clio
            10/23/2009 at 9:26 AM

            Thanks, CD and Bea, for that clarity. I guess that, as an historian, I’m interested in origins more than in characteristics or symptoms, but it’s essential to know the general parameters of the illness and evil that Robert faced and that we the citizens still have to prosecute.

            I strongly suspect that Joe’s military parents, of who he bragged to Detective Folts in the Crown Vic, may have helped to shape his expression of this disorder, but, of course, we need more information, as per usual, to confirm that.

      • TT
        10/23/2009 at 10:08 AM

        Bea, I believe Joe is a smuck but the traits you listed I have to question. We don’t know who Joe is. We can speculate…..I pray justice prevails for Robert and his family.

        • CDinDC
          10/23/2009 at 10:56 AM


          There have been several “testimonials” on this site attesting to Joe’s behavior. And those behavior point toward NPD.

        • AnnaZed
          10/23/2009 at 11:10 AM

          Speculate, yes … that’s pretty much what we do here.

          However, there are speculations that can be based on facts, the central fact being that these three men added mendacity and insult to homicidal injury by cleaning, altering and positioning Robert’s body and his environs after his horrible, horrible death.

          Add to these facts the fact that they have refused to account for their actions but have taken refuge behind their advocates and it’s open season on them, their characters, their sex lives, their finances, their relationships, their taste in decor ~ everything.

          That is to say that while I don’t “know” Joe; I do know a thing of two about Joe, and what I know is not flattering. Take the conversation in the Crown Vic (another victor in this story, weird!) it is the stuff of Greek plays; his hubris is so monumental that one could charge admission just to walk around it. Do his various failings as a person of integrity and character amount to a personality disorder? I would say so, yes.

          Ergo, given that murderers are generally understood to be personality disordered it is not illogical to further speculate that Joe is himself a murderer.

          Let us hope (or as you say, pray) that enough can be proved and presented to a jury as coherent evidence about the events That a looming guilty verdict on the tampering charges will yield the larger truth as to who killed Robert Wone, but for now (today, and maybe everyday until the trial or trials are over) I will speculate along with others, and sift the evidence and speculate again. That is the process.

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