Police Say Crime Scene Was Altered

By Allison Klein and Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two weeks after a prominent lawyer was killed in a Washington townhouse, D.C. police are still searching the home for clues, and they believe crime scene evidence was cleaned, according to court documents.

The body of Robert Wone, 32, general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was found Aug. 2 in a Swann Street NW townhouse. He had been stabbed three times in the chest. The house is owned by two men who are well known in the gay community. They and a third resident at home the night of Wone's killing have hired criminal defense lawyers.

Police said Wone was spending the night at the townhouse near Dupont Circle because he had worked late and did not want to drive home to Virginia, where he lived with his wife. She has declined to speak publicly since his death.

Wone was a college friend of one of the townhouse's owners, Joseph Price, a lawyer.

In an affidavit to search Price's office at the law firm of Arent Fox, police assert that the scene had been altered.

"Technicians were able to determine that the crime scene had been tampered with, including that the area where the victim's body was located had been cleaned," said the document, which was first reported in Legal Times.

Police said they also were struck by what they did not find.

"A lot of evidence we should have seen at the house, we didn't see," Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the police department's violent crime unit, said yesterday.

Police used chemicals and an artificial light to detect trace blood on the walls, floors, door frame and sofa bed near where Wone's body was found, according to the affidavit.

Police took a computer from Price's office, looking for e-mails to and from Wone, the document says.

Three men, including Price, were at the house when Wone was killed. The second man is Victor Zaborsky, who owns the home with Price, according to property records. The third is Dylan Ward, who works for a software company in Virginia.

Kathleen E. Voelker, an attorney for Price and Zaborsky, did not return a phone call yesterday.

David Schertler, who is representing Ward, said that his client had been living in the Swann Street home for more than a year and that he was acquainted with Wone through Price.

Schertler, a former homicide chief for the U.S. attorney in the District, said Ward had nothing to do with Wone's slaying. Schertler said Ward told police that neither of the other two men was involved, either.

Doctoring a crime scene could lead to criminal charges of obstruction of justice or accessory after the fact.

Police are trying to determine a motive in the slaying, according to a law enforcement official who did not want to be identified because the case is open.

Shortly after the killing, one of the three men told police that an intruder had broken in through the back door and killed Wone, according to the affidavit. Schertler also said the slaying was committed by an intruder.

But investigators said there were no signs of forced entry into the house, nothing was ransacked and nothing appeared to have been taken.

Morris said the three men told police they did not see an intruder or hear Wone being killed.

The FBI is helping investigators, providing technicians with expertise in blood spatter, Morris said. The agency also brought in a behavioral scientist who specializes in crime scene reconstruction.

Investigators say they are not sure Wone was killed in the second-floor guest room where he was discovered.

Price and Zaborsky were identified as a couple in a 2004 article in USA Today about gay parents. They had donated sperm to a lesbian couple, the article said. Price is general counsel to Equality Virginia, a gay rights organization.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company