What If We’ve Hurt, Not Helped?

Of the two questions invariably asked of us over the last two years (the first: ‘Who do you think did it?‘), it was the hardest to answer.

‘What effect do you think you’ve had on the case?’ someone would ask, hopefully teeing up an answer that – however we meant it – never seemed to answer the question.

It was usually asked kindly – like a coded compliment, thanking us for our efforts to keep the case active and in the public mind.  (And by ‘us’ and ‘our’, we four have always made the point to include the entire wmrw community that grew up around this site.)

We’ve often heard how some people think we’ve “…done the Saints’ work…” (as a colleague put it to me this week) in keeping this case alive – or, as MPD Chief Lanier might say it, “…very, very active.”

But.  If…

What if we’ve not been working for the saints, but for the devils?  What if our work not only doesn’t yield a murder charge but has actually helped the guilty evade prosecution?  What if our efforts affected the trial, the investigation, or the outcome – and not for the better?  What if it would have been better had we never begun any of this?

There are several possibilities.  It seems clear that wmrw ramped up local attention to a case that had languished.  The criminal trial was always going to be messy, but with so many more people watching, the stakes over evidence may have gone up.  Sure, the defense team was going to contest everything they could.  But did they fight just a little bit harder, spend a little more time and money, and try just one more legal gambit than they would have otherwise?  And had fewer people been watching, could Judge Leibovitz have felt just a little more room to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?  Re-reading her ruling, you can certainly hear the struggle.

Another possibility is the investigation.  Certainly no-one but the MPD and Secret Service are to blame for the sometimes sloppy work and errors committed in the first days – those first crucial days when most investigators will tell you a crime is either solved or not.  But as we’ve documented here many times, there was new information coming forward in the months and years that followed, and the possibility that even more could have come.

No better example of this was the appearance of “Old Friend” on this site last week.  Quoting:

“I’ve phoned the editors over a year ago with a few concerns over getting into any type of involvement with this. I’m married with 2 kids and we keep this kind of drama away from our kids. This is some very serious stuff with a great deal of legal concerns.”

How many other people out there know something they haven’t shared because of the drama, legal tangles, and media glare?  What if it would have been better to simply keep quiet and not potentially scare off new leads?  We can assure, from direct knowledge, that a number of people wrestled with this, opting for silence in the end.

Finally, we wonder whether spines were stiffened over the last two and a half years – those of the defendants, and of the guilty parties.  It’s well established Joe Price was a competitive guy – Old Friend was only the latest in a long line of people who know that Joe intensely liked winning.  AUSA Glenn Kirschner, the MPD detectives, even Judge Leibovitz are convinced the Swann Street Three know more than they’ve said.  The “Anacostia Dialogues” make clear all three defendants were intent on offering only parts of the story.  But could our efforts have added just that last minor irritation to a team to fight all the more, keep together and stay silent?  Losing is always bad, but perhaps losing to us would have been just  little worse.

And the guilty party or parties – whoever they are – remain hidden in plain view.  It may be irrational to think that, had this case been allowed to fade from public view, they might have come forward – or at least slipped up somehow, dropping the mask for just a moment.  But murder is not rational, guilt is not rational, and guilty people sometimes do surprising things.

There’s a final ‘If…’ that is troublesome.  What if, by asking these very questions, we’re giving comfort to the guilty?  What if they see this and think “Ha! You lose!”

It’s possible.  Many things are possible.  But there is still an investigation, and there’s still a civil trial in the offing.

They’re called “surprises” for a reason.

46 comments for “If…

  1. 03/21/2011 at 10:20 AM

    Doug: You wrote: “We can assure, from direct knowledge, that a number of people wrestled with this, opting for silence in the end.” Are you implying/saying that “a number of” people who had pertinent knowledge did not share that knowledge on wmrw.com OR do you mean they did not take their knowledge to the police or prosecutors? Big difference. They have no obligation to share on wmrw but do have an obligation to report to the authorities.

    • Doug
      03/21/2011 at 6:22 PM

      @Gloria: I guess we have to remain opaque here. Sorry to say this is going to be the kind of answer I give during my work (VOA) hours: I’m not at liberty to speak about the people or the kinds of information they have, assuming a condition of speaking with us was that it would be off-the-record with complete anonymity. For those who have something to share, it’s their obligation to do what they need to do. For us, our obligation is to persuade, where we can, those with relevant information to take the next steps.

  2. boofoc
    03/21/2011 at 3:51 PM

    “Murder, though it have no tongue, will speak.” Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii. As I’ve noted elsewhere herein, the more who know about this despicable crime, the more likely loose lips will reveal the secrets with which they’ve been entrusted. When some mix alcohol, drugs and sex their inhibitions are loosed; fortunately, some such persons’ tongues are likewise less restrained. Your effots to inform many more people are thus laudable. Keep it up.

    • 03/22/2011 at 2:56 PM

      True–there is something about the truth. JP seems TYPE A but like the Clintons learn–u can’t win everytime especially when everyone wants the wind to shift 1 way and noone wants to defend u. It is best to seek a draw/checkmate. Star Jones said when she was a prosecutor that if a deal is offered there is only 1 ticket and 1 pickup stop–if you choose not to take it, then that’s on you –there will not be a second train roaring through. This is something I hope the PG council execut wife reflects on. when someone says will u testify against I hope one of the 3 grab it.

  3. susan
    03/21/2011 at 10:10 PM

    This site has kept the memory of Robert Wone alive, and shined and continues to shine a big, bright light on a gruesome murder in Washington, DC, the nation’s capital. How people respond with that bright light trained on them or on a crime they had a hand in seems to be beyond the control of the editors of this site.

    Maybe it’s like “sunshine” in the federal govt, or a Wikileaks type of sunshine. There may be some downside to either–misuse of info. for one. But overall, it would seem to be a good thing.

    • susan
      03/21/2011 at 10:17 PM

      BTW, with those who may have something to share with the police they can always send out feelers and see about having their privacy protected. If anyone out there had a role but not an actual hand in the crime, the courts are alllways cutting deals. There are options. Living with crap in your head because you didn’t come forward–unpleasant option. Bad karma. Bad everything.

  4. Bea
    03/22/2011 at 4:46 AM

    This is an interesting post. I wonder about it too. But I think what you’ve done is laudable. Many people know about this case because of this site. Even if Robert’s murderer is not brought to justice (spine tingling on that one), this site won’t let the murder be forgotten. I can only imagine how many have perused this site in trying to learn more about the case, about the defendants, about Robert himself – you should all be proud of your efforts. We know how hard you’ve worked, how you’ve stayed focused (even when the case has been mired in dull discovery spats). I applaud each of you.

    • Craig
      03/22/2011 at 9:50 AM

      “…dull discovery spats.” No such thing. The C-SPAN geek in me totally digs the process, Bea. Not so much that I want to apply to law school…

      PS: We may be seeing a filing or two this week.

  5. Rapt in MD
    03/22/2011 at 10:10 AM

    I’ve thought about this over the last year or so, but I agree with others that your efforts here have been a good and noble thing. First and foremost for keeping the case current and for letting those responsible (and those who are somehow complicit) know they will never be off the hook. I think this constant, unavailing pressure may tend to produce a slip up or an unburdening of someone’s conscience, rather than make it more unlikely.
    Yes, I want to keep Robert’s memory alive, yes, I want to see justice for Cathy and Robert’s family, yes, I would like the DC police to get a grip on their procedures so they can process a crime scene, but the other thing I want from this site, and we have already gotten it to some extent, is to get a chance to lift the mask of sanity to see what lies beneath. I’m giving my position on the crime away here, but I think the Swann 3 wore that mask all too well and this site has helped me to realize how little we really know people sometimes.

  6. Kate
    03/22/2011 at 10:25 AM

    To Our Editors of WMRW – Keep up the marvelous work and shine much-needed light on this case.

    This is an indeed interesting post – made me think of a childhood song, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…”

    Believe it or not, I still occasionally hum or sing this tune when the “what ifs?” of self doubt darken my doorstep. Mind you, I thoroughly believe in self-reflection and examination of thought and action – it’s good for us, albeit at times painful.

    Doing the right thing is often extremely difficult. Perhaps your post will be a guide to those who may yet come forward and add their light to the mystery of who murdered Robert Wone.


  7. dieter
    03/22/2011 at 1:13 PM

    Here’s a “what if” question, and not one meant to be snipey or mean-spirited. Actually, it’s just kind of a tangent to what you were discussing. There’s no question that this site and most of the core group of commentators has been anti-Swann 3 and allowed some pretty nasty things to be said about them. What if they didn’t do it? What if all your hounding of them, their friends, their families, etc. were wrong? What if your attention to them actually kept the police and prosecutors (and, by extension, the Wones) on their trail rather than what might have been a more fruitful one? If the murderer were found tomorrow — and it wasn’t one of them, one of their relatives or someone they knew (i.e., if what they have told the police turns out to be true) — what would you do? I would like to hear a sincere answer and not a chorus of the convinced.

    • TT
      03/22/2011 at 2:31 PM

      Sincerely what I would do is hold my belief that one/all of the 3 were involved in the crime. And,if the police, found evidence to support that the 3 were not involved, I would be angry. Angry that they continue to butcher this case.

    • Bill Orange
      03/22/2011 at 6:12 PM

      I suppose I would say something along the lines of, “Sorry for doubting you, but you have to admit that the whole thing looked really, really bad, and you didn’t really help yourselves by withholding information from the police (and in Joe’s case, outright lying to them) in the early hours of the investigation.”

      The bottom line here is that the big reason that the spotlight is on these three is that they were in the house when someone was killed, and they’re refusing to talk about what happened. You can make a reasonable argument that they’re just doing what their lawyers are advising them to do, but just as they have a fifth amendment right to remain silent, the rest of us have a first amendment right to criticize them for it.

      And frankly, if they’re truly innocent, and their high-powered lawyers can’t come up with a way to convince the DA of their innocence (e.g., a polygraph, an interview under medical sedation, etc.), then they really need to find better legal representation.

      • 03/22/2011 at 6:57 PM

        AMEN bill–but if I am wrong I would do the right thing.

    • susan
      03/22/2011 at 8:15 PM

      Thanks for posting this, dieter. I believe a similar question was posed before, months ago, but with more info. since then I prob. have a stronger opinion.

      Since the murder of Robert Wone, we know that JP kept his job for awhile until, at least, the crim. trial AND the porn was discovered on his work computer. VZ kept working for the milk marketing org. and may still be with the Latin American division. We know that DW went overseas to study more massage and whatever else. We know they bought a house in Florida, worth a nice sum and they still own it. We know that Robert Wone was never older than 32 and is gone.

      Since the murder we learned that although the one female tenant of the house asked that doors be locked, they frequently weren’t. We know that although she asked and received assurances that JP’s brother with a drug problem and past criminal issues did not have a key to the house he Did have a key.

      We understand that there were unusual relationships inside that home and likely jealousies and secret liaisons. We know there was a “torture” chamber, and some knives in one of the bedrooms, etc. We know the “love of [JP’s] life” was not the one he went through a public commitment ceremony with. We know that from the allusions to screams and/or low grunts that night to the Anacostia interviews questionable actions were taken by all three and that JP was not forthcoming with the truth about the knife, the cell phone, etc.

      So, if it came out today, that these three free men, who by most accts continue to have a livelihood and homeownership, a defense fund, and a close “family” did not murder R. Wone, I would wonder why they didn’t help themselves more from the beginning and why they seem to not be very forthright with each other let alone the police.

      I’d also wonder why we didn’t hear of JP apologize to the police officer and the Wone family at R. Wone’s funeral when his brother behaved horribly to the female officer at a time and place where respect for the Wone family should have been sacred.

    • Bea
      03/22/2011 at 8:15 PM

      The only way that I see that these guys are truly innocent of everything is that if they all lied thinking one of the others was guilty of murder and then were stuck with the position. Even then, most honorable adults would come clean, especially since a friend had been murdered. I can’t see that Joe, in particular, could ever be given a pass on the issue of “not telling all he knows.” If ever these guys were given a gift, it would go by the name of Ashley’s Reagent.

      People on this board haven’t “hounded” anyone unless you are assuming the defendants, their family and friends, come here just to read up on our opinions/theories. No one picketed their homes or trial to my knowledge.

      I think more realistically, perhaps one of the defendants is less guilty than proposed – say, for example, that Brother or Neighbor or Trick was the killer, and the trio have gone through hell. They’ve lost their jobs, their homes, their social standing. But that’s on them for not telling what they know. They made a choice and stick by that choice day in and day out.

    • CDinDC (boycott BP)
      03/22/2011 at 9:50 PM

      If someone (other than one of the trouple) was found guilty of Robert’s murder, I’d say exactly what I said when they were acquitted of conspiracy/tampering/etc…….”you’ve got to be kidding.”

    • Clio
      03/22/2011 at 10:26 PM

      Dieter, darling, I would endure several evenings at the Crucible or its next incarnation, IF someone other than the defendants (and/or Uncle Michael) were found guilty of anything in that house that night. In addition, I would organize a series of fundraisers in metro Washington to underwrite a year-long spate of much-needed Zumba classes for both Price sisters, IF that very, very remote possibility came to pass.

      Hounding has not happened here at this “Island of the Flies,” IMHO. Rather, discussion has happened. Has that discussion been too little and too late? Probably. But, like Barack and Hillary in Libya, it’s the thought that counts.

    • AnnaZed
      03/22/2011 at 11:14 PM

      I have never said that there is no possibility that the murder was committed by someone other than the three men who resided at Swann Street that night (though my personal opinion is that it wasn’t). What I have said is that they know who committed the murder and of that I am confident that I am correct.

      [Yes Victor, I am including you in this statement]

    • Hoya Loya
      03/23/2011 at 8:45 AM


      Whenever I read the site, think about the case, and always before I post, I consider the possibility that one, two or three of the guys could be innocent. That possibility is one of the many troubling aspects of the case and was enough to lead to acquittals in the conspiracy trial.

      But the three remain, for the moment, the prime suspects other than the unidentified intruder who took nothing, except allegedly a life, and of whom no evidence exists beyond an open door. Unless someone talks or until this case gets its own Ingmar Guandique, these guys will logically remain in the spotlight.

      This site has looked at other possible suspects, including Michael and Phelps Collins. There have also been commenters presenting balancing views of the suspects, like Old Friend, and a memorable recounting of a courthouse conversation with Victor’s parents, who came off as quite sympathetic.

      It will be a relief if this case is solved, whoever did it and solving the case is, for me at least, the goal of this site, not crucifying the defendants. But if it turns out to be a Guandique, I would be fascinated to learn the explanation why the defendants acted in the often puzzling ways they did on that August night and ever since.

      • Kate
        03/23/2011 at 9:18 AM

        Hoya – many thanks for your thoughtful post, I share your sentiments exactly.

        And Dieter, many thanks for your post, as well. It’s very important to consider, examine and reflect on the possibility of the Swann Three’s innocence as much as any other scenario that has been presented and discussed. Your post reminded me of a thread started by Doug on 2/9/2011, titled “Knowns and Unknowns”, in which the possibility of the Three’s innocence was discussed at some length. It’s a worthy read, or re-read.

        Regards to all,

        • christy love
          03/23/2011 at 9:47 AM


          I’d wonder who the muthafuckers paid off.

  8. susan
    03/22/2011 at 8:33 PM

    Dieter, a few more points in response to the questions you posed:

    The police and prosecutors are responsible for their own actions, not a weblog. The fact is, this site didn’t arise until AFTER the men were scheduled to face a trial. Robert Wone was murdered at 1509 Swann St., a fact that brings the Swann 3 and friends to the attention of law enforcement, independent of this site. And if anyone should express regrets should the three men be found innocent, I suppose it should be the police who destroyed evidence at Swann and the incompetent officers who questioned the defendants.

  9. DCUnionGuy
    03/23/2011 at 10:59 AM

    I’m an infrequent visitor who uses wmrw to keep up on the developments in the case. I think the site has served a noble purpose and you’ve done a good thing. I just wish more murder victims in DC had something similar.

  10. 03/24/2011 at 6:42 AM

    Just wondering IF Joey & Vicki are still together on their anniversary. IF this site has done nothing but help us keep track of important dates such as this auspicious occasion (of course it has; just jokin!), it has been worth the effort.

    • Clio
      03/24/2011 at 6:52 AM

      IF Halo is still in business, then perhaps a quiet couples’ night out there may be in store for the former leaders of LGBT Virginia. IF Sarah is still in town, perhaps she might join them.

      What were they thinking when that public celebration of Dyl’s birthday was held at Halo in 2007? And, why did Miss Morgan show up, if she was so scared of anything 1509 Swann?

      • Bill 2
        03/24/2011 at 11:50 AM

        Are you joking, Clio? I missed this info. Did Sarah Morgan really show up at a celebration with the trio in 2007? If so, my low opinion of her has fallen to greater depths.

        Both Morgan and Hixson are sure to have information that can provide further clues toward solving this murder. Since Hixson has jumped in the sack with them, I don’t expect him to be very helpful, especially if he’s hoping for more sacktime with Price or Ward. With Morgan, I’ve wondered if the statements by Judge Leibovitz reached her and made her realize that she’s seriously involved in a cover-up of the death of Robert Wone. Her overnight trip a few blocks away, to watch TV, helped to set the stage for the murder on Swann Street.

        • Clio
          03/26/2011 at 6:54 PM

          Reportedly, she did do at least a cameo at Dyl’s party at Halo in 2007, but these accounts did indicate a studied distance on the part of Miss Morgan toward the then-festive trio. Why then would one go at all?

      • CDinDC (boycott BP)
        03/24/2011 at 8:27 PM

        Halo is history….currently it’s boarded up. A new bar called #9 will open in the same space.

        • Clio
          03/26/2011 at 7:02 PM

          Thanks, CD. The past is prologue, after all!

          • susan
            03/26/2011 at 7:29 PM

            I wonder if anyone else sees the irony in having the party at a place called “Halo.”

            • Clio
              03/26/2011 at 9:34 PM

              Yet, our “little angel” apparently continues to please: see the late January review of his work by a Virginia gentleman at Masseur Finder.

  11. Michael
    03/24/2011 at 10:24 AM

    I’m sure WMRW.com has made the ninja intruder feel very very bad about what he did.

    As a matter of fact, he is sitting in his ninja cave right now, bawling. But this ninja is a true ninja. He does not cry in front of anyone but himself. To the public eye, he is completely invisible.

    Also, the ninja has some “friends”, but they don’t like him that much, because he’s so sneaky and evil.

    Maybe this site has aided the ninja’s escape, but at least more people know about the ninja and what a piece of shit he really is. WMRW.com exposed the evil of this ninja. The ninja intruder will try doubly hard to make sure no other websites are dedicated to his murders.

    Let WMRW.com serve as a warning to ALL ninja intruders – you might get away with it, but no one will forget the things you have done, BECAUSE IT’S ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

    Thanks, guys.

    • CDinDC
      03/24/2011 at 2:15 PM

      Even if WMRW.com closed up shop and took all the postings with them, it would STILL be all over the internet. Pity!

    • mw
      03/25/2011 at 4:46 PM

      Ninjas don’t live in caves, they live in dojos.

      Please stop spreading misinformation.

  12. Juan
    03/24/2011 at 8:03 PM

    Life after whomurderedwho.com, a new sighting on horizon.

  13. rw cousin
    03/24/2011 at 9:00 PM

    as a member of Robert and Kathy’s extended family – thank you for your caring work and information.

    • christy love
      03/24/2011 at 9:22 PM

      How is Kathy holding up? I’d like to see this blog interview her. I read somewhere that she kept in touch with the trouple for more than a year after Robert’s murder. She must have really believed in them and was kept in the dark.

      • susan
        03/24/2011 at 10:04 PM


        You should read this article:

        I don’t think any of the people involved in this upcoming trial will be giving interviews anytime soon. And she didn’t ask for any spotlight.

        Let’s hope Ms. W has love and support around her. I would imagine she does.

        • christy love
          03/25/2011 at 4:53 PM

          Thanks Susan. I had read that before. I still hope that after the civil case is over we hear from her. I’d like to know what she thinks happened.

  14. LtColumbo
    03/24/2011 at 10:31 PM

    Knock it off at once. You are not allowed to play the “what if” game, period. Beyond the fact that it is a zero-sum exercise replete with unequivalent hypotheticals, its practice will only serve to dull your edge, to put a hesitation in your step, a twitch in your journalistic countenance. This story is too important to waste time participating in unproductive subjective mind games.

    • Doug
      03/25/2011 at 6:40 PM

      Thanks Coach. I mean, Lt. And thanks to everyone. I think this post did what it needed to.

    • Clio
      03/26/2011 at 10:57 PM

      Precisely, LtColumbo. The Editors have been and are writing non-fiction for the most part, and hypothetical history of this sort is only for high school sophomores who cannot concentrate.

      And, Editors, please do not revert to Sarah satire, with reference to either Morgan or Palin, to fill up motionless Mondays! Spag will come up with something: just you wait and see!

  15. Craig
    03/25/2011 at 5:48 PM

    So much for us seeing a new (expected) filing this week….

    • Clio
      03/26/2011 at 6:59 PM

      Sigh! Has Spag finally run out of tricks?

Comments are closed.