Year Later, Lawyer's Slaying Still Shrouded in Mystery
Widow to Plead for Witnesses to Speak Out on Husband's Death in Attempt to Raise Investigation's Profile

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 5, 2007

The wife of a prominent lawyer slain last summer inside a townhouse near Dupont Circle plans to issue a public appeal tomorrow for witnesses to come forward in a case that police say has been plagued by a lack of cooperation.

D.C. police have yet to make any arrests in the slaying of Robert Wone, who was killed late Aug. 2, 2006 while staying overnight at a friend's home. Wone, 32, was stabbed three times in the chest with a butcher knife that came from the kitchen, police said.

Police said they did not get full cooperation from the three men known to have been in the house at the time of the killing: Wone's longtime friend Joe Price and Price's housemates, Victor Zaborsky, Price's domestic partner, and Dylan Ward. None has been charged with any wrongdoing, and they deny impeding the investigation.

"We believe they have not been candid about what they know about the events," said Sgt. Daniel Wagner, a homicide investigator. He would not elaborate.

Kathy Wone and her attorneys hope to raise the profile of the investigation with a news conference tomorrow. In an e-mail, she said she believes Price, Zaborsky and Ward could provide additional information.

"Anything short of full and complete cooperation is very troubling and essentially is equivalent of helping Robert's killer or killers get away with this terrible crime," wrote Kathy Wone, who declined requests to be interviewed last week by phone or in person.

She said she has not had contact with the men since her husband's death. Robert Wone, general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was attacked in his bedclothes as he spent the night in a spare bedroom at the home in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW. He and Price, also a lawyer, were close friends from their days at the College of William & Mary. Wone spent the night there rather than go home to Oakton because he was working late in the District, friends said.

Price, Zaborsky and Ward have retained attorneys. The attorneys -- Kathleen Voelker, Thomas Connolly and David Schertler -- released a joint statement last week saying that the men are "puzzled and concerned regarding the false accusation that they have somehow withheld information from the police."

"They have told the police everything they know about what happened," the statement said. "They still hold out hope that the police will apprehend the intruder who murdered their friend."

All three men were interviewed by police for hours and later voluntarily submitted DNA samples and fingerprints, the attorneys said. After the killing, police predicted they would solve the case quickly. But the investigation grew complicated as police said there was no sign of forced entry into the home. They also alleged that the crime scene had been altered and cleaned before authorities arrived. Police took over the house for three weeks and removed a large amount of potential evidence, including flooring, pieces of walls, a chunk of staircase, the washing machine and sink traps. Police are waiting for the FBI to complete its analysis of blood and other evidence.

In the e-mail, Kathy Wone, 36, said she is confident that police will solve the case, saying investigators have shown "steadfast commitment, skill, and focus."

"We also have time on our side. . . . [W]e can wait for as long as it takes for the killer to break under the growing pressure of having to constantly live with the knowledge of what he did," Wone wrote.

Still, she expressed frustration with the pace of the FBI's lab work. "It has been trying at times as we continue to wait for the FBI to complete their analysis of all the samples that were taken," she wrote.

A spokeswoman for the FBI crime lab said she could not comment on the case. The case has taken strange twists. Three months after the killing, the Swann Street rowhouse was burglarized. Stolen items included $7,700 in flat-screen televisions and other electronics. Two men have been charged with the break-in. One is Michael Price, brother of homeowner Joe Price. The second is Phelps Collins, a friend of Michael Price, authorities said. The burglary charges remain pending.

After losing her husband of three years, Wone wrote that she is starting to move forward with her life. "I am laughing again and enjoying the company of friends over a delicious meal," she said.

She reflected on how the tragedy has tested her resolve. "During this year of intense sadness, I learned that being still and letting grief interrupt whenever it wished was often times the best thing I could do for myself as that was the only way my seemingly broken life would begin to heal," she wrote. "When grief barges in and demands a visit, it's best to let her have your undivided attention."

She said she relies heavily on friends and family members. "We've come through this most difficult year in one piece and that is reason enough to rest in the immense relief of knowing that we made it through some of the darkest moments we'll ever know while also celebrating Robert's influence in all of our lives," she wrote.

Staff writer Henri E. Cauvin contributed to this report.

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