Friends baffled over slaying of man in Arlington

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Carl Diener was an early riser and a health nut. He regularly walked to his jobs opening two Arlington County gyms long before sunrise. Friends were shocked to learn that Diener, a retired government worker, was fatally stabbed last week, apparently on one of those walks.

Police were trying to figure out who killed Diener and why. It was one of two killings in the county last year.

Officers were "following everything that seems like it's a lead," said Detective Crystal Nosal, an Arlington police spokeswoman.

Diener, 57, was found at 2:50 a.m. Dec. 29. He had been beaten and stabbed and was lying on the street in the 3200 block of North 13th Street in Clarendon. Officials would not say whether his gym bag and wallet were with him.

Friends at the Arlington Sport & Health Club said Diener was a gregarious man who knew everyone by name and reveled in telling amusing stories.

"You'd walk up and see a group of guys huddled around Carl, listening to him telling jokes," said David Bain, a friend and neighbor who played racquetball with Diener at Sport & Health. "He was the social nexus of the club."

Bain and others said Diener loved racquet sports, cycling and nutrition. He was in tip-top shape, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing more than 200 pounds.

They also said they were baffled about why someone would attack him.

"He didn't have enemies. He had lots of friends from playing tennis and racquetball," Bain said. "He didn't have disagreements with people, other than the occasional disagreement about whether the ball was in or out."

Diener did not drive because of epilepsy, friends said, and could be seen most days walking the mile or so from his apartment, where he lived alone, to the gyms, where he would prepare the facilities for early-morning exercisers, friends said.

Bain said Diener would often go to sleep late in the afternoon and wake up in the wee hours of the next morning to get the health club ready. He also helped to open a gym next door.

Diener had worked at Sport & Health for about 10 years, taking the very early shift so he could also work at his government job, from which he retired about a year ago. He was a former D.C. health inspector and also worked for the General Services Administration.

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