The Philadelphia Story
When Is A Cold Case “Cold”?
It’s been more than four years since Robert Wone was found stabbed at 1509 Swann Street on August 2nd, 2006. Nobody has ever been charged with his murder. The evidentiary trail has run dry, and despite efforts to the contrary, the greater DC community seems to have grudgingly accepted this crime will remain unsolved.
Every forensic researcher and professional we’ve spoken with in the last two years agrees: if a murder case hasn’t yielded significant progress within a year or two (at the outset), it has gone cold.
They all agree: if ever there was a cold case, it’s Robert’s murder.
Everyone except, it seems, the MPD. And that may actually be a bad thing. Why, after the jump.MPD Chief Cathy Lanier has stuck to her script over these last several years: anytime she’s asked about the Wone murder, she says it’s a “very active investigation” and that means she’s limited in what she can say. That was her response as recently as last Thursday on WTOP’s “Ask the Chief” program – active, can’t talk.
We’ve never doubted the MPD wants to crack this case, and they still may. But just how active can it truly be? There’s no new evidence, and in some cases what evidence did exist is now no more.
What’s worse: keeping the case ‘active’ may actually be interfering with its solution.
Recently Sarah Larimer at TBD spoke with representatives of the Vidocq Society in Philadelphia. “It sounds like an interesting case,” she quotes Vidocq commissioner Bill Fleischer. Promising, especially given Vidocq’s impressive solution percentage. However, Larimer goes on…
“If they’re still actively investigating it, it’s not a cold case,” says Fred Bornhofen, case manager for the Vidocq Society.
The MPD has taken to referring questions on Vidocq to the USAO, who has remained silent on the issue. Meaning a cold case remains ‘active’, perhaps in name only, which is blocking any action from a group of forensic specialists who might actually help the MPD solve the case.
Perhaps it’s time for the MPD to reconsider what ‘active’ really means, and to move the Wone case into the ‘cold’ column…where in fact it already is.
Far from being an admission of defeat, it might just be what’s needed to find Robert’s killers.