Elegant Living, Savage Death
1509 Swann Street: Back on the Market
Over the past two and a half years, we’ve trawled real estate sites to get pictures of the interior of 1509 Swann Street. We studied the cutaway scale model of the dwelling that was schlepped in and out of Judge Leibovitz’ courtroom last summer, and have walked by that house so many times that we’ve lost count.
Hours have been spent staring at the facade and peering into the backyard with the foolish hope the house would somehow reveal some of its many secrets.
If the walls could talk, we thought, because the defendants so far have refused to. Sunday saw us inside the home for the first time. An recent on-again, off-again sales history is now back on - and there was an open house that afternoon.
It was everything that anyone would expect in a $1.6M DuPont listing: well decorated, nicely appointed and staged within an inch square foot of its life, and advertised as “FIVE FLRS OF ELEGANT LIVING.”
The open house also had plenty of traffic during the 30 minutes we spent in there, and not all of those people looked like serious buyers. Some who were in there paced the halls deliberately, almost reverentially, revisiting rooms a second and third time, all under the watchful eyes of two realtors.
Some elements of the house do not meet expectations. It is not nearly as deep as some of the agent photos show it to be, but it does seem wider, 16 feet at least. The house did get some renovation work after the MPD and FBI deconstructed it during their fruitless search for evidence, so it’s impossible to say if the layout was identical as it was on the night of Robert’s murder. If not, we assume it to be pretty damn close.
The patio is much shallower, too, than the photos depict. Standing at the kitchen island, where according to defendants’ statements, they sat with Robert before retiring, the line of site into the garden planters is mostly clear, but would almost certainly have been distorted or wiped out entirely by reflections from both the interior and exterior lighting. How defendant Joseph Price says he saw a bug/spider/whatever on a patio light through those glass doors from his vantage point in the kitchen, now seems considerably less plausible.
We think we now know why the criminal defense team spiked the testimony of their sound and acoustics expert. He may have not held up well on the stand.
The sets of steps from the first to second, and second to third floors were noisy, and still uncarpeted. Assuming an ‘intruder’ had just slain a resident of the home, he would have to have tip-toed down to the first floor so he wasn’t heard; not the high-speed egress one would expect of an assailant fleeing a crime scene.
Again, the defendants’ statements of not hearing anyone descend those steps, yet hearing Robert’s muffled ‘low screams’/'grunts’/whatevers, seems like more and more of a stretch.
And how Ward was able to hear Robert ‘latch’ his guestroom door, but neither the ‘low screams’ and a fleeing ‘intruder’ right outside his door, is starting to seem even more fanciful, no matter how much medication(s) he told the police he was under.
The acoustics get even more curious when considering the distance up to the mater bedroom where Price and his domestic partner told the authorities they were sleeping in, behind a closed door.
Price heard the ’low screams’/'grunts’/whatevers, through his closed door, and from a floor away, but didn’t hear the ‘intruder’ either hurriedly bound down the steps or exit the house.
Another aspect of Ward’s statement to police may deserve a second look – he told them when he was first was roused from his Rx-induced slumbers, he made his way to the guest room and peered inside and said he didn’t see much of anything.
While standing at the door/threshold of the guestroom, one sees almost everything, and that very well may have included a direct and unobstructed view of the sofa-bed that Robert was murdered on.
How Ward could not take in the entire scene while standing at that door doesn’t seem to square with either the dimensions of the room, the layout, simple physics or reason, for that matter. The sofa-bed seen in the photo at the left is in the exact position as Robert’s deathbed was on the night of August 2, 2006.
The house won’t give up any of its secrets. There were four men in the home that night and one of them isn’t able to share anything anymore, his life extinguished in there while the remaining three tell us they were asleep and neither saw or heard much of anything. A simple walk-thru of the home demonstrates why many find their statements to be increasingly less believable.