The Divine Miss M.

10 Questions for Sarah Morgan, Swann Street’s Fourth

As the lilacs fade and the calendar edges closer to May, the seeds from some of the unanswered questions we’ve planted over are beginning to sprout.   The garden needs to be weeded and tended.  Let’s all grab our spades.

Among the flowers that have failed to bloom is one called Sarah Morgan (Bellis perennis Morganis.)  As the rarely mentioned fourth member of the 1509 Swann Street family, she remains the most mysterious…and silent.

What we know about Sarah is eclipsed by what we don’t know…save for a suspicion that she may hold one or two keys to solving Robert’s murder.  Time is running out to ask questions and try to get them answered.

To jump start this effort, we offer 10 questions for Sarah, after the jump.

Oh…and your questions are welcome, also.

Question 1Sarah, when did you first know Robert would be staying over that night?

Reading the transcripts it’s clear not every one of the Swann Street housemates knew of Robert’s sleep-over plans at the same time.  Digging into what we know, we can say Robert and Joe had planned a sleep-over well in advance of August 2nd, 2006.   The transcripts also confirm that Victor – home early from a work trip – was the last to know with just hours to go.  Joe knew first, then Dylan, then Victor.  When did Sarah find out?

Question 2Sarah, how often did you spend the night at your friends Tom and John’s?

The transcripts of the three defendant’s voluntary (at least in two cases)  statements suggest Sarah was prone to spending time with her friends ‘Tom and John’, and that she would occasionally spend the night after an evening of socializing.  But they also suggest she would sometimes make a late call and decide to return home.   The Congressional Calendar indicates August 2nd was in the first week of the summer recess.  When did Sarah decide to spend the night?

Question 3:  Sarah, when did you contact your friends about coming over, and did you ask to spend the night?

What’s the difference between a planned stay and a spur-of-the-moment decision?  Perhaps not much.  But perhaps an insight into what Sarah knew, and what she expected, that evening on Swann Street to be like.

Question 4 Sarah, how often did you spend the night at a friend’s house?

We know that Tom and John weren’t the only places Sarah would visit to socialize and occasionally spend the night.  While fortunate to have such good friends, it also suggests someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time at home.  If that’s so, why?  Would Sarah have possibly become uncomfortable with the living arrangement?  Did she feel part of the Swann family…or was there distance growing?

Question 5:   Sarah, how often did you use the front door at 1509, and how often did you use the rear entrances?

The defendants say that Sarah would use either the front door or rear entrances.  A tenant might feel more compelled to use the back entrance unobtrusively, but a member of the family would likely feel more comfortable coming in the front.  And what about time of day?  Would a younger woman walking alone in DC feel safer using the front street door, or the back alley entrance?  Oh…and Sarah, do you recall which door you used that night?

Question 6:  Sarah, just how much did you hear of what was happening in 1509 Swann?

There has been plenty of discussion about what may have been happening at 1509 Swann…some of it possibly involving a fairly serious infliction of pain.  The housemates themselves acknowledged the size of the house (small) and its acoustics.  What wasn’t discussed publicly – yet – is how the activities between Joe and Dylan – none of which are illegal  – may have affected the overall acoustic environment of 1509.

Question 7:  Sarah, who is your friend?

While not part of the public record, we have learned that Victor was the first of the Trouple you knew.  He was first your friend, then later your entrance to the larger family.   With suggestions that the family may be splintering, Sarah may be left with a painful decision to choose who of the three she is currently closest with.  Or perhaps…

Question 8: Sarah, are you still close with Joe, Victor and Dylan?

She has apparently only seen her former housemates a few times since leaving.  To our memory, she hasn’t once been at Moultrie to offer support.   Is Sarah no longer friends with her former housemates?  And if not, why not?

Question 9: Sarah, did you spend any other nights around August 2nd away from Swann, and did you have any communications with Victor while he was on his work trip?

And finally…

Question 10:  Sarah, when will you tell all that you know?

-posted by Doug

49 comments for “The Divine Miss M.

  1. CDinDC
    04/26/2010 at 11:50 AM

    From the post: “But they also suggest she would sometimes make a late call and decide to return home.”

    How strange that she would call to let them know that she would be returning home instead of staying out overnight. The roommates I’ve known didn’t call ahead to let anyone know their arrival plans.

    And certainly she would have keys to the deadbolts. It wasn’t like mom slipping the chain on the door if you didn’t get home before she went to bed.

    Did she have to see if Joe and Dylan were using her apartment for their extra-curricular activities? Perhaps Victor didn’t enjoy hearing the torture sessions himself (unless he watching, of course). Perhaps they used the basement apartment for their scenes.

    • Friend of Rob
      04/26/2010 at 12:37 PM

      Knowing what likely went on in the townhouse on a regular basis, wouldn’t you call and let them know that you were coming back unexpectedly.

      Nothing like wrapping up your night by coming home to find Joe naked on a trapeze in the kitchen covered in Crisco.

      • CDinDC
        04/26/2010 at 1:34 PM

        I wouldn’t have lived there under those circumstances.

        • CDinDC
          04/26/2010 at 2:18 PM

          FoR…I can’t get that visual out of my head. LOL

          • des
            04/26/2010 at 9:43 PM

            i can’t either – thanks a lot! 😛

            • des
              04/26/2010 at 9:44 PM

              that was not supposed to be a smiley face….

  2. BadShoes
    04/26/2010 at 12:22 PM

    my suggested questions:

    1) Describe you actions on August 2nd and 3rd. How and when did you learn about the murder of Robert Wone? Describe any conversations you had with the defendants or their friends on August 3rd. Did anyone connected with 1509 ask you to go anwhere or do anything? To your knowledge, was anyone else asked to go anywhere or do anything?

    2) Did someone suggest to you that you ought to stay at Tom & John’s on the night of August 2nd? If yes, who? What was the substance of the conversation? What time did you leave your apartment on August 2nd?

    3) Was there a lock on the door to your apartment? If yes, did you customarily lock this door when you went out?

    4) Did your landlords have access to your flat? If yes, under what circumstances did they avail themselves of this access?

    5) What were your laundry arrangements at 1509? Did you share washing machine/dryer, have your own units, or use an external service?

    6) When you returned to your apartment on August 3rd or subsequently, was their any evidence that someone other than yourself had been present? Missing/out-of-place items? Used towels/water in kitchen/bathroom? Something added that shouldn’t have been there? Cupboard ajar? Stains or unusual cleaning on floor, walls, door?

    7) On August 3rd or subsequently, did anyone connected with 1509 ask you to pick or deliver a package, take clothes to/from laundry or dry cleaner? If yes, what were the circumstances?

    8) Do you know Michael Price? What were the circumstances? Do you recall Mr. Price as a frequent visitor to 1509? If yes, do you have any sense of whether he just ‘dropped in’ or if his visits were by invitation only?

    9) Did you meet Michael Price on August 2nd or 3rd? If yes, what were the circumstances, and what was the substance of your conversation?

    10) Were you aware of any tensions among the residents of 1509? Did any of the residents seem to be frequently angry or in distress? Did you witness any threats or acts of violence among the residents?

  3. Robert
    04/26/2010 at 12:29 PM

    DOUG
    Except for my having speculated that Joe’s brother Michael may have disposed of the murder knife by laundering it through his drug connnections, I’ve not given much thought to the aftermath.

    Meanwhile, a number of bloggers have suggested that Sarah knew that some hanky-panky was going to take place that night and that whatever the case may have been she was recruited for the final
    “search and destroy” cleanup operation.

    If either Sarah had knowledge before the fact or assisted after the fact, I wonder why she appears to be keeping her distance from the men to whom I have always throught her to be a “fag hag.”

    And if Zaborsky was Morgan’s entree into her Swann Street home base, will Sarah’s spoils go to Victor?

  4. CC Biggs
    04/26/2010 at 2:32 PM

    Doesn’t Sarah Morgan face some potential liability here? If she is aware that a crime took place, she could be guilty of misprison of felony (failure to report knowlege of a felony), or obstruction, misleading an official investigation, or similar offense. She better have told DC police everthing she knows.

    • Bea
      04/26/2010 at 2:58 PM

      If she lied to police about her knowledge, she could face charges – and that’s if she DID nothing else, eg if she helped destroy of evidence, then she’s an accessory after the fact.

      • BadShoes
        04/26/2010 at 4:29 PM

        Ms. Morgan probably has a strong alibi, since she spent the night with friends. So, speculation that she might have been present at 1509 ahead of the ambulance is almost certainly incorrect.

        If the police thought she might possess useful information, they could have questioned her. If she declined to cooperate, hey could have called her before the grand jury that indicted the defendants.

        If Ms. Morgan’s evidence doesn’t appear in the indictment or pre-trial discovery, it is probably because her evidence doesn’t contribute to the prosecution’s theory.

        Ms. Morgan’s attorney has almost certainly advised her to tell the police everything she knows. If she really were an accessory after the fact, she could almost certainly have traded immunity for evidence against the perps, the quicker the better.

        So, I think Ms. Morgan probably doesn’t know anything that bears directly on the guilt or innocence of the defendants. Based on her knowledge of the defendants, it is possible that she could guess or infer more than she actually knows.

        • Craig
          04/26/2010 at 6:00 PM

          Thanks Shoes: We were told Sarah Morgan was in front of two grand jurys FWIW.

          I’m guessing three grand jurys sat: The first that looked at the murder, the second on the burglary and maybe a third that handed down the pending charges. Not sure.

          Plum: Thanks.

          • CDinDC
            04/26/2010 at 7:09 PM

            Seems Sarah’s testimony would have more bearing on a murder trial than a conspiracy trial. Being privy to Joe et als comings and going and practices within the house would be events prior to the night of Robert’s murder. Doesn’t seem to have much bearing on whether they lied to the police or not. Information regarding the night of the murder (and possibly info leading up to the night of the murder) seems to be more pertinent to this trial.

  5. Eagle
    04/26/2010 at 3:55 PM

    It does look like Sara was not a happy camper who was content and relaxed in her Swann Street cave.
    She fled regularly.
    Was she avoiding something that went on regularly or was she not welcome at certain times?-Was there a pattern of behavior which caused her such discomfort that she often excused herself. Or did she know when her presence was not welcome?
    I expect we will not know much until the trial. And then we will only know what is admitted into evidence.
    We can only speculate.
    She’s in a tough situation at best.
    Who knows? She may be able to clear up part/parts of the mystery.
    Certainly her assessment of the relationships and practices/patterns at the house will be invaluable. Hopefully.

    • Eagle
      04/26/2010 at 3:58 PM

      Who knows.
      Maybe she felt in danger at times.

      • Bea
        04/26/2010 at 4:17 PM

        Here’s to hoping she’s willing to testify as to the whole truth. Even if she didn’t feel personally threatened or in danger, maybe she didn’t like all the drugs that were likely kept upstairs, didn’t like the loser brother having keys – and maybe, being Victor’s friend first, did not like how Victor was treated by Joe and the Mistress. I wouldn’t mind if she were a little mad about the whole thing – getting dragged through the mud not the least of it.

        • Eagle
          04/26/2010 at 4:56 PM

          Bea
          As, I have noted before, I strongly suspect that this was not the first time that events similar to Aug 2, 2006 had happened in this house or even elsewhere with one or more of these three men present.
          The whole scenario was as if it had been practiced: the whole operation was just too smooth, too quick, too clean, characterized by weird outcomes (the needle marks for example). The emotionless display when the emergency workers arrived. Their stories were all unified especially as to talking points. (a lot of shower/water activity going on that evening and night) During the interrogation there was no sadness for Robert nor expressions of remorse or regret for what happened to Robert at their home. Most people would have been stricken with grief.
          Anyone living in the house would have observed out of the ordinary practices.
          The person most likely to observe odd practices would be Sara.
          As I remember, she obtained a lawyer right away.

          • Bea
            04/26/2010 at 6:02 PM

            Hi Eagle. I suspect you’re right. My guess is that no one was murdered before, but unless all BDSM stuff occurred at the house in NE, she’d likely have known. Maybe even if at the NE house, if Victor stayed at Swann and commiserated with Sarah.

            General question (to anyone). Any likelihood that the tricks from alt dot com would have been brought over to Swann before the NE house? You’re not going to invite them to meet the parents, but I’m wondering if Joe didn’t like to show off a bit. And his strong point ain’t his looks.

            • Eagle
              04/26/2010 at 8:07 PM

              I agree- no murder previously. But some sort of practice/routine.
              The motive is still unclear to me-especially the stabbing. The calculated wounds. The position of the knife/knives.
              I’m not so sure that Victor is so innocent.
              They say it is the quiet ones you have to watch.
              Anyhow, there had to be some sort of conspiracy to cover-up- at least between two of the men.

              • Bea
                04/26/2010 at 8:11 PM

                I think Victor is guilty of the current charges – had to know and had to help.

                Interesting that they could have previously concocted this story in the event it that something might have gone wrong. . .

    • wolftownjeff
      05/17/2010 at 8:42 PM

      She may HAVE been a happy camper there.
      Sounds like she may have been a kinkster herself. Thats a lot of leaving and coming back at night. The phone calls back to the house before returning to share the evenings details (hers and theres)?
      Bottom line she knows a lot and might be libel in a civil suit.

      • Bea
        05/17/2010 at 8:52 PM

        Hey Wolf – generally speaking, she can’t be sued for libel for testifying at a criminal trial.

        Do you have knowledge that she was into ‘unusual’ practices? I haven’t heard anything along those lines – my guess is that she disappeared when she sensed the bad boys were in charge and having an ‘experience’.

        I think Joe called her at 6 am to tell her not to go back to Swann (though as others said, it sounds pretty set up and a CYA) – don’t recall anything about her calling him/them.

        • AnnaZed
          05/17/2010 at 9:16 PM

          I think he meant “liable.” ::sigh::

          • Bea
            05/17/2010 at 9:20 PM

            Got it. If she simply “knows a lot” but did not act on it, I don’t see how she could be liable in a civil action. Even if she did act but it was as accessory-AFTER-the fact (meaning Robert was dead before she entered the picture), I don’t see how she’d be liable either. If she acted BEFORE Robert died then yes, but ‘knowing a lot’ is no longer the point – she’d have directly committed a criminal act.

      • rk
        05/17/2010 at 9:13 PM

        I think it’s inappropriate to assume she was a “kinkster” because she was coming and going at certain hours.

        This is pure speculation at its worst.

        • Bea
          05/17/2010 at 9:16 PM

          Agreed.

        • AnnaZed
          05/17/2010 at 9:47 PM

          Absolutely, I think that if Ms. Morgan were implicated in these crimes the police would be all over her. I think that she went to stay with her friends as instructed and was then summoned (at 5AM) to Cosi and that what she has to tell about that is likely damaging enough.

  6. Craig
    04/26/2010 at 4:25 PM

    Law jocks: There’s been very little in the motions and documents on potential witnesses like Sarah Morgan, just on the expected testimony from the bevy of experts.

    At any point ahead of the trial, does either side have to disclose how they will be treating these other witnesses, possible lines of questioning, etc.?

    • plumskiter
      04/26/2010 at 4:40 PM

      answer to craig: nope.

      • Bea
        04/26/2010 at 5:58 PM

        Plums is correct. With Expert witnesses, you have to give a rundown of expected testimony so the other side can study it, prepare their expert. With ordinary witnesses, no such thing.

    • rk
      04/26/2010 at 7:05 PM

      No. However, she’s already been interviewed by the PD so you can be certain the prosecution has an idea of where she stands on the cooperative/uncooperative scale. If she’s called by the prosecution, then you can bet that she knows certain facts that might implicate the defendants. She’s already been asked by the PD and grand jury if she was told by Joe/Dylan/Vic/Michael to be absent on the night in question, and the prosecution knows how she’s answered in the past.

  7. galoon
    04/26/2010 at 8:13 PM

    Sarah- How many times have you returned home late in the evening after having told your
    housemate(s) that you’d be spending the night elsewhere?

    • intrigued
      05/17/2010 at 7:09 PM

      So when did Victor call Sarah to tell her not to go home–5 AM? And she answered? And got to the PD in enough time for breakfast at COSI that AM?

      • CDinDC
        05/17/2010 at 7:44 PM

        Intrigued,
        I always thought Joe’s telephone message/conversation with Sarah was a bit odd…maybe even staged. “Don’t go home. Something has happened. Will explain later.”
        then she shows up at Cosi.

        • AnnaZed
          05/17/2010 at 9:43 PM

          I hadn’t really given that much thought, very odd. Though Joe does seem like the type of person for whom inconvenient middle of the night phone calls giving directives related to his own personal emergencies wouldn’t even seem strange.

    • John Grisham
      05/17/2010 at 7:49 PM

      Sarah’s testimony looms large.

      • CDinDC
        05/17/2010 at 7:52 PM

        Can’t wait, John!

        • John Grisham
          05/17/2010 at 7:53 PM

          Bigger than life!!

      • Bea
        05/17/2010 at 7:54 PM

        Sarah could hold the key to all of it. And I don’t mean that literally (don’t think she has the knife, for example). But agree that if she throws Joe under the bus for having talked her into staying away that night, or if he said some strange things at the 6 am call or at Cosi or anytime after that, or even provides info about the nights Victor is supposed to be away as being “different”, then she may sink him/them.

        Did anyone ever comment on whether she went to Tom & John’s on the same nights that Victor was supposed to be out of town? That would be curious.

        • CDinDC
          05/17/2010 at 8:00 PM

          Joe, Victor and Dylan have been depending on each other to hold their story together. That’s been tidy and in the bag. Now things they have NO control over are factoring in……”friends.”

  8. Bea
    04/26/2010 at 8:39 PM

    If there’s no limit on numbers of questions . . .

    Sarah, what suspicious things did you see or hear in the days before and after Robert’s murder?

    Joe says you come and go because you have your own car, but we’ve had conflicting information on that – if untrue, why would Joe say this?

    Who usually locks the doors (in many households, there is ultimate responsibility with one person) and how likely is it that it was left unlocked that night?

    Were you aware of any ‘tricks’ from alt dot com coming over to Swann? Did Victor ever speak of this? Were you able to/bothered by noises from upstairs relating to this?

    Did Joe and Victor fight often? What was your sense of the information that Victor was not supposed to be home until late that night (as in did that influence you to be gone too)? Did Joe use Victor’s absence as an ‘opportunity’ to ‘play’ with Dylan and/or others?

    Did you ever witness violence between or among the three defendants? Which and what were the circumstances?

    In your estimation, would Victor go to jail to prevent Michael Price from being convicted of some degree of murder or manslaughter? Would Dylan? Would Joe?

    Same question but insert each name in each “other” position.

    What kind of drugs did the defendants use and how often – any one of them more or less inclined?

    Is it likely that Joe/Dylan (even Michael) had plans to move and dispose of Robert’s body before Victor screamed?

    Did you ever speak to any of them about the story that didn’t add up? Any distinctions in their responses?

    • CC Biggs
      04/26/2010 at 11:20 PM

      These are good questions. I really hope the DC police were smart enough to ask them, and I hope that little cupcake was smart enough to answer them honestly.

  9. Clio
    04/27/2010 at 10:04 PM

    I still find it odd that Victor, Sarah’s entree to Swann, expressed no thoughts about her in his transcripts, but that Dyl, her alleged frenemy, did mention her at least twice.

    Mr. Ward, if readers of the transcripts may recall, indicated his concern about Miss Morgan being frightened by the cops if she came home unexpectedly. Also, he noted Miss Morgan’s penchant for morning walks.

    In the Anacostia dialogues, only Joe thought that she was fat, and, according to him, that weight discouraged her from climbing the steps to the boys’ lair. This is odd; as others have pointed out, even if one were fat, that would not prevent that individual from walking upstairs: the “sardine can” of 1509 Swann was NOT that confining!

  10. Robert
    04/28/2010 at 3:02 AM

    CLIO
    What is it with Joe? He never seems to run out of insults for people — especially those ostensibly “near and dear” to him
    (Robert, Michael, Sarah).

    Has he made similar comments about Victor and Dylan?

    BEA
    I tend to think that you are correct in that similar BDSM rituals may have occurred in the past, but no murder. I understand that this may have no relevancy for the purpose of the current prosecution for obstruction, etcetera.

    EAGLE
    I think that it was Joseph’s unrequited love for Robert that started the whole ball rolling (so to speak);
    that Dylan was assisting his submissive dominant, Joseph, in fulfilling Joe’s desire for consummating his sexual desire for Robert;
    that Michael may or may not have been involved in the drugging of Robert or the coverup at the behest of his brother, Joe, whom he adored;
    that Victor is covering up for his own complicity in a coverup in which he participated to protect the “love of his life,” Joseph;
    that whatever role Sarah played by her absence or in the cleanup would have had to do with her being a very close friend to Victor.

    With the possible exception of Sarah, all of the others were dependent on the narcissistic center of attraction, Joseph, for his “love” and support.

    Personally, I believe that Dylan stabbed Robert at Joseph’s direction though Bea and others have not unreasonably suggested that Joe was the more likely stabber for any number of reasons.

    I believe that the motive for killing Robert by stabbing was either that:

    1) Robert suddenly “came to” and, based upon his character, Joseph knew that Robert would be unafraid to report the sexual assault/rape —
    no matter how difficult that might have been for him or others similarly situated; or

    2) Robert did not “come to” and Joe and Dylan felt the need to stab Robert to cover up Robert’s death by apparent overdose which would have been very suspicious given eight needle marks on Robert’s body and no history of drug use by Robert, but an extensive history of drug use by Joe and Dylan.

  11. NM
    05/17/2010 at 10:59 PM

    The speculation about motive is interesting, but really beside the point.

    As a thought exercise, imagine the victim was a fit young female lawyer, and the defendants straight men. Would we give a second thought to their motive? I doubt it. We’d assume the rationale was the same as every other hetero rapist-murderer’s: he did it because he wanted to.

    But maybe I’m wrong. In hetero cases of this sort, when a woman is the victim, do prosecutors try to establish motive or does it suffice to prove the accused committed the crime?

    • Eagle
      05/17/2010 at 11:25 PM

      Just plain killing because you want to is a concept that most people have difficulty grasping.
      This whole scene has oponed lots of eyes to ideas they have not grappled with as people are doing in this case.

      • NM
        05/18/2010 at 12:41 AM

        I’m afraid I expressed myself rather poorly. I believe there are always reasons why a person kills (or takes any other action for that matter), but my sense is that establishing motive in a crime that involves sexual abuse is more an issue for the defense than the prosecution. By which I mean, if an uncle is accused of molesting his 8 year old niece, the prosecutor won’t waste time trying to establish the uncle’s motive (why did he choose to abuse a girl with whom he had a familial bond, whom he was ostensibly fond of, and so on).

        The case would strictly concern evidence (or the lack thereof) that he committed the crime. Perhaps because we are bombarded with images and narratives featuring victimized females, motive is seen as less important – only the defense would raise the issue of why the accused would target one particular woman. So i find the discussion of motive in this case somewhat curious. As a legal matter, is it relevant? Is it enough for the prosecution to say ‘for whatever reasons, the accused committed this crime and here is the evidence’?

        • NM
          05/18/2010 at 12:45 AM

          Or, have I completely misunderstood the way such crimes are handled? I’m not a lawyer, and haven’t seen the inside of a courtroom since i was a member of Act Up NY back in ’89.

        • AnnaZed
          05/18/2010 at 12:51 AM

          I quite agree with you here NM, and have continued to bang the drum slowly but continuously with the same refrain; sexual assault and murder against women and girls is considered a given as to motive, the desire to commit the crime itself is motive enough. It’s almost as if all heterosexuals understand the desire to destroy the beautiful sexually attractive object, but when it’s a man people act stumped and ask why? In addition, in this case if you or me or the US attorney’s office even hint at this motive the defense cries bias.

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