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The Robert Wone Stabbing: Anatomy of a Murder Case

Robert Wone was found dead in a Northwest D.C. townhouse in August 2006. The three defendants who were charged with conspiring to cover up his death were found not guilty on June 29, 2010. No one has been arrested in his slaying.

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"Here they are, here they are," he said abruptly, sounding relieved as an ambulance pulled up out front. Then the magnitude of what had happened that night seemed to hit him again like a punch, stealing his breath.

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He was crying hysterically.

"Oh, dear. . . . I can't believe this. . . . I can't believe this."

A College Friendship

Williamsburg, 1991:

After leading a tour for prospective students at the College of William and Mary, Joe Price, a junior, stood patiently outside a campus building for more than half an hour, answering questions from the diligent parents of Robert Wone, who eventually would be salutatorian of his Catholic high school class in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In helping their firstborn child pick a college, Wone's mother and father, a school librarian and a technology executive at Chase Manhattan Bank, were leaving little to chance. As other tour guides smiled at the scene, Wone, 5-foot-4 and boyish looking, stood quietly with his parents while they politely interrogated Price.

That was the first meeting of the two future lawyers. As their friendship grew, Price, older by three years, would remain Wone's guide, introducing him to student government at William and Mary, where each majored in public policy, and later helping him navigate law school. Both would land jobs at prominent Washington firms: Price at Arent Fox, specializing in intellectual property rights, and Wone in the real estate department at Covington & Burling.

And finally Price, a suspect in Wone's murder, would be one of his pallbearers.

The story of how Wone, Price, Zaborsky and Ward came to know one another -- how the four ended up together in the townhouse Aug. 2, 2006 -- has emerged from public documents, including court filings, and from people familiar with the men's backgrounds, most of whom declined to speak on the record because of the criminal case.

The three suspects, advised by their attorneys to keep low profiles, have said almost nothing publicly about their friend's death, while the lore surrounding the murder has grown in the city's gay community. On the Web (particularly a blog called whomurderedrobertwone.com), armchair sleuths debate the arcana of the case, parsing the clues and speculating on a psychosexual meaning to it all.

Price, a popular and busy man on the William and Mary campus, met Wone again in the spring of 1992, months before the studious New Yorker began his freshman year. As one of a group of academic high achievers entering the college as Monroe scholars, Wone was invited to spend a weekend in Williamsburg. While there, he was paired with Price, an honor society member soon to be a senior who was president-elect of what is now called the Student Assembly.

A former Eagle Scout, just under 6 feet tall with a broad face, Price was an energetic campus organizer and openly gay. Raised in Texas, Japan, the Florida Keys and Cape Cod, a son of career Navy petty officers, he had whimsically titled his college-application essay "My Mother Wears Combat Boots." As the student government's new chief executive, he appointed Wone to a presidential advisory council, which seemed to suit the freshman's interests and personality.


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