This FAQ should help new readers better understand the crime, principals, cases, and our approach.
OVERVIEW: On May 10 17, 2010, three Dupont Circle residents will go on trial in connection with the stabbing murder of their longtime friend, Robert Wone.
At midnight on August 2, 2006, Robert was found stabbed to death in their home at 1509 Swann Street, NW. Robert, a DC attorney who lived in Oakton, Virginia, had arranged weeks earlier to spend the night at the home of his college friend Joe Price.
At the time, Price lived with his registered domestic partner Victor Zaborsky and their ‘roommate’ Dylan Ward. The three housemates, all gay, were at home when the murder occurred and from that night forward have claimed an unknown ‘intruder’ broke into their home and killed their straight friend.
An apparent flawed investigation (that included DC Police, the FBI and US Secret Service), and at times, a lethargic prosecution allowed this case to go for years without substantive progress made towards finding Robert’s killer.
In October, 2008, the first charges were leveled. The prosecution alleged that Robert was injected by a paralytic drug, sexually assaulted, restrained, stabbed, washed, redressed and placed into bed before the housemates dialed 911.
On May 10, the housemates will go on trial at DC Superior Court, but they are not being tried for murder. Instead, they are charged with crime scene tampering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice (lying to and misdirecting investigators). Prosecutors believe the defendants know who committed the murder and they’re covering up for the killer.
ESSENTIAL READING: Start with the Robert Wone Wiki page for an overview of the principals and charges. Other key documents include:
The ‘original’ affidavit: This was the 14 page arrest warrant for Dylan Ward that was released in October, 2008. Written from the prosecution’s perspective, it contains many accusations that are graphic and sexual in nature.
The Superseding Indictment: This prosecution document outlines the alleged overt acts which constitute the criminal charges.
Ward Motion for Pretrial Release: Written by Ward’s defense team, this document describes what they found to be heavy-handed tactics by the police and government in their investigation and prosecution of Ward and his housemates.
1: Who are you guys, and why are you doing this?
For nearly two decades the four of us have been friends, partners and exes; together we are each other’s family of choice. Over an early December dinner we realized we shared a serious and driven interest in this case and strong desire to see the truth emerge about the murder of an incredible young man. We also shared the frustration that his murder has languished for years with a glacially slow legal process and little substantive investigative media coverage.
As four guys who make their livings in and around the media we also were drawn to this case by its ingredients typical of a full blown Washington scandal; power, sex, alleged drug use,and mystery. So why such little real buzz on the streets? There seemed to be a tremendous void.
We launched whomurderedrobertwone.com to re-energize the conversation, spark more debate, provide a clearinghouse and to grow the number of people who can lend smart analysis and want to see justice done.
We aggregate the media coverage as well as offer original commentary, research and analysis of the case. Our editorial framework demands a 360 look at all aspects and principals involved. We ask for guest commentary and encourage a free flowing conversation and the sharing of responsible ideas and opinions.
Many of the topics are of an adult and graphic nature. These issues cannot be discussed solely in a clinical manner and often the language needed to address the aspects of this case and crime requires us to give wide berth to accommodate the views from different and diverse audiences.
2: Why no aliases?
Because we want to operate as transparently as possible we freely use our names: Craig Brownstein, David Greer, Michael Kremin and Doug Johnson. We each bring different perspectives and experience to this effort. We are neither pro-prosecution or pro-defense. We want to hold every bit of evidence under the light, stress test every reasonable theory and learn the fullest picture possible of Mr. Wone’s murder.
3: Did you know Robert? Do you know the defendants?
No, and no. We have no direct history with the Wone family or any of the three defendants – Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward – although we are learning that each of us are one or two degrees away from the principals. Because we did not enter with any preconceptions about any of them, we hope we can bring as objective observation and comment as is possible.
3: How as Robert murdered? When? Where?
Robert Wone was found at 1509 Swann Street NW without any signs of life by EMTs at 11:54pm, August 2nd, 2006. He was pronounced dead shortly after, at 12:24 am the morning of August 3rd, at George Washington University Hospital. The death was ruled a homicide by medical examiner Lois Goslinoski, who lists the cause of death as three stab wounds in Mr. Wone’s chest and torso. Those simple facts are perhaps the only thing clear about this murder.
A good starting point is the Affidavit in Support of an Arrest Warrant for Dylan Ward. This document includes what the EMTs and police found on the evening of the murder, what was heard from the interrogation of the three roommates and Mr. Wone’s autopsy results.
4: So? What’s the big mystery?
Nearly everything. The knife found on the scene does not match the wounds, but a missing knife from housemate Dylan Ward’s cutlery set could prove a match. As much as 49 minutes may have passed from the time a neighbor heard Victor Zaborsky’s scream at finding the body to the time 911 was called. Mr. Wone’s body showed no signs of restraint or defense wounds (extremely unlikely for three stabbings), signs of sexual assault (but no foreign DNA), and a number of unexplained puncture wounds on his neck, foot, hand and chest (but no signs of the standard slate of “date rape” drugs.)
Mr. Wone’s deathbed and room showed very little signs of any blood – on the sheets, mattress, his clothes, his body, the walls or flooring, anywhere. There was also no sign of blood on the t-shirt Mr. Wone was wearing, and although the slits matched the location of the wounds, no fibers from the t-shirt were found in the wounds.
And we’re just starting. The deeper one digs into this case, the more a puzzle it becomes.
5: Who’s been charged, who’s been convicted, and who’s gone to prison?
Quoting the October 27th indictment, three of the four Swann Street housemates – Joe, Victor and Dylan – have been charged with 17 counts to “…unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate, and agree to obstruct justice in connection with the homicide of Robert Wone by altering and orchestrating the crime scene, disposing of, altering, and planting evidence, and lying to law enforcement authorities and others about the true circumstances surrounding the homicide…” The indictment also charged the three with obstructing justice in the investigation.
The criminal trial date has been set for May 10, 2010. If convicted the sentences may range up to thirty-eight years.
There is also a $20 million wrongful death civil case brought against the housemates by Katherine Wone, Robert’s widow. The judge has stayed that case until after the criminal case.
6: What do the defendants say?
All three have been clear from the very beginning: they had absolutely no involvement in any way whatsoever with Mr. Wone’s murder or its aftermath. They say they have no idea who did it, claiming an intruder. It goes without saying that we respect their rights and the sanctity of the process.
7: What’s the nature of the defendants’ relationships and what is the role of BDSM and drugs?
Four people lived under one roof at 1509 Swann. Joe and Victor are committed domestic partners of long standing. Court documents state that Joe and Dylan shared an intimate, private relationship that included bondage and S&M sex play. So in the truest sense this was not a three-way; it was two two-ways. According to court documents a collection of sex devices was found in the house, and investigators discovered a large collection of intimate photographs of Joe and Dylan on Joe’s computer. We do not judge in any way their private living arrangements.
There’s been some amount of speculation about drug use by one or more of the three. We are clear that this is speculation only, and there has been no hard evidence produced of any drug use. Dylan Ward did admit in voluntarily that streets drugs would be found at the house.
To the best of our knowledge Joe and Victor continue to live together at a new address while Dylan lives elsewhere now. A fourth housemate, friend Sarah Morgan, lived in the basement in-law suite and was away the night of the murder. She has not been charged.
8: Why do you call it murder? Why not “Who Killed Robert Wone”?
Because whatever else may have happened to him that night, at least one person took a knife and thrust it three times into Mr. Wone’s body. There is nothing accidental about that act, and the person or persons who did it can only have done so with the intent to commit murder. Besides, the case is officially categorized as a homicide by the Metropolitan Police Department. That’s good enough for us.
9: OK, so who do you think committed the murder?
We have no idea. More accurately, we have constantly shifting ideas and views. We can neither do the work that’s ahead for the criminal justice system or the media. What we are interested in are theories as to what may have happened, who may be behind it, and any and all relevant information about the players and the events of that night. We feel that many people in this town may have a small piece of this puzzle; together we hope to solve it.
11: What can I do?
Talk with your friends, colleagues, partners. Put your best thinking into solving this brutal crime. Read the documents, offer an idea for a post, share a comment on one or offer a way to improve the site. Do your homework. Write us.
12: What are the posting and privacy policies here?
We honor confidentiality with those we speak with online and off. As administrators of this site, like anyone who operates on WordPress, we are privy to information hidden from other users including email addresses given and IP addresses. We value reader contributions and will jealously guard and protect any information on here. We retain the right to reach out to readers via posts, comments and on occasion unilaterally using email addresses given if they are indeed real.
We ask commenters who wish to remain anonymous to adopt aliases so we and others can better follow the discussion, but we ask for real email addresses so we can further explore issues at a more personal level. The decision on that rests with the readers.
We ask to that readers use the contact email here to discuss tips, leads or anything else of significance in a more private setting. Through that inbox we have received heartfelt testimonials on Robert’s work and life, information from those close to the principals and some very smart ideas and direction. We hold those communications in the strictest of confidence.
We also encourage readers to operate above board if they so desire. We use our real names and ask others to consider that as well. We recognize the value that anonymity gives to online communication but also see the considerable merit in full disclosure. The nature of this crime, its victim and needs of his family demand thoughtful, non-inflammatory and relevant posts – from us and from you.
Blatant flaming, off-topic rants and personal attacks are neither welcome or helpful. We reserve the right to edit, redact or take down any comment. We want the discussion to be free flowing and will always err on the side of inclusion. We know that readers here hail from vastly different backgrounds and that they often use vernacular exclusive to their particular community that others may find offensive or objectionable.
We hope the comment sections are self-policing and have chosen not to heavily moderate them, rather we allow for their immediate posting. All comments posted here are the sole opinions of the authors, not those of the editors.
Readers allowed ONE user name only. Commenting under multiple aliases is forbidden and grounds for immediate banning.
So rather than belabor this anymore with process, let’s get to work and go find the bad guy(s).