3 Indicted In Alleged Coverup of D.C. Killing
Friday, November 21, 2008
Three men at the center of an enduring murder mystery in an elegant Dupont Circle townhouse have been indicted on obstruction of justice charges as police continue to investigate the slaying of Robert Wone, a rising star in Washington's legal community who was fatally stabbed two years ago while staying overnight at the home.
One of the men, Dylan M. Ward, 38, was arrested in Florida three weeks ago after authorities filed an affidavit in court alleging that he and his two former housemates, Joseph R. Price, 37, and Victor J. Zaborsky, 42, tried to cover up the circumstances of Wone's death by doctoring the crime scene and lying to police. Ward's arrest and the affidavit supporting it raised the question of whether Price and Zaborsky would face charges.
The answer came Wednesday night when a grand jury in D.C. Superior Court indicted all three on obstruction charges.
Yesterday, Price, in a gray suit and a blue French-cuffed shirt with cuff links, made a brief appearance in Superior Court and was ordered jailed pending a bail hearing today. Ward has been in custody since his arrest in Florida, his attorney said. Zaborsky, who is scheduled to be arraigned today or Saturday, sat in the courtroom gallery with his attorney yesterday while Price, his domestic partner, made his appearance.
No one has yet been accused of killing Wone, 32, a highly regarded lawyer who was found dead in a guest room on Aug. 2, 2006. He was president-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association's Washington chapter and had recently become general counsel at Radio Free Asia.
Wone, who lived in Oakton with his wife, Kathy, had been close friends with Price, who is also a lawyer, since the mid-1990s, when the two were undergraduates at the College of William and Mary. Wone also was friends with Ward, who worked for a software company, and Zaborsky, a marketing manager for a dairy trade association.
Kathy Wone said her husband, who planned to work late Aug. 2, 2006, had made arrangements days beforehand to spend the night in the six-room 19th century townhouse at 1509 Swann St. NW, which Zaborsky and Price had purchased for $1.2 million in 2005. The house is a mile from Radio Free Asia.
Price and Zaborsky were involved in a "committed, intimate relationship," the affidavit says, while Ward, also gay, shared a "personal, intimate relationship" with Price. The affidavit describes Wone as "heterosexual, happily married," with "no sexual or intimate relationship with any of the three residents" of the townhouse.
The housemates, all of whom have denied wrongdoing, told police that Wone, who was stabbed three times in the chest, must have been killed by an intruder. But authorities have called the men's accounts of what happened that night "fanciful" and implausible.
The mystery in the case concerns what happened to Wone in a span of roughly 99 minutes: between 10:15 p.m., which was about when he left his Radio Free Asia office the night of the killing, according to a colleague, and 11:54 p.m., when two emergency medical technicians arrived at Wone's bedside on the home's second floor.
The police affidavit made public after Ward's arrest says that the housemates gave detectives the following accounts:
Wone arrived about 10:30 p.m., and soon the household had retired to bed. Price and Zaborsky said they were awakened by a chime that sounds when a door to the townhouse is opened. Moments later, they said, they heard a series of "grunts" from beyond their room. They said they went to investigate and found Wone on the guest room sofa bed. A 911 call was placed at 11:49 p.m.
Price said he found a knife on Wone's chest and moved it to a nightstand. Police said that knife's blade was inconsistent with Wone's wounds and had been smeared with Wone's blood. The murder weapon is more likely a knife that remains missing from a cutlery set in Ward's room, police said.
The EMTs said they saw hardly any blood. One of them noted "a very light film of blood with striation marks as if someone had taken a towel and wiped it down Mr. Wone's chest," the affidavit says. The other EMT said it appeared that Wone had been "showered, redressed and placed in the bed."
A medical examiner found evidence that someone had restrained Wone by blocking his airways, possibly by holding a pillow to his face, the affidavit says. The medical examiner also found more than six fresh needle marks on his body.
The affidavit alleges that Wone was sexually assaulted while he was incapacitated. As for Wone being stabbed while unconscious, the affidavit says his wounds were "remarkably clean . . . perfect, slit-like" holes, meaning he did not struggle as the knife was plunged into his chest.
Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.