(Update: Suspect arrested, family thanks law enforcement)
Police apprehended late Thursday night the suspect in the gruesome killings of three members of a Northwest Washington family and a housekeeper, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.
“Just got him,” Lanier said shortly before 11:30 p.m., speaking of Daron Dylon Wint, 34, who was apprehended in Northeast Washington.
Federal marshals had been tracking Wint on Thursday night from College Park as he traveled in a white Chevrolet Cruze, a police official said. The suspect was traveling with two women, and one of them was driving. The Cruze was following a white box truck, which had two black males inside. At least one of the men was believed to be a relative of Wint’s, the official said.
Both vehicles were stopped by marshals near 10th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NE, the official said. Police found at least $10,000 in cash in the box truck, and the women in the Cruze and the men in the box truck were taken into custody, the source said.
The manhunt for Wint had extended to New York City, where authorities said he has relatives and acquaintances in Brooklyn.
Wint is charged in a warrant with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57.
Wint is a former employee of an iron supply company headed by one of the victims and has a long history of alleged assaults and threatening behavior, according to law enforcement and court records. Police said they believe that the victims were held captive overnight and had been bound. At a Thursday afternoon news conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser described the slayings as “an act of evil.”
Hours later, Wint’s father, Dennis, reached by phone, declined to comment. “I really am not in the mood to talk to any reporters,” he said before hanging up.
[How a Domnio’s pizza crust led police to Wint]
For the first time, Lanier told residents that the suspect in the homicides that have riveted the Northwest neighborhood had targeted his victims. Wint had worked for American Iron Works, a large distributor of iron and steel based in Hyattsville and run by Savvas Savopoulos, who along with his family was active in Washington-area society, business and fundraising circles. Lanier would not say when Wint worked there. A court record describes him as a certified welder.
“For residents of the District who are rightfully scared and want answers as to why and how this family may have been involved, we want to give you as many answers as we can,” Lanier said at a news conference Thursday. “What we can tell you right now is that we do believe there is a connection between the suspect in this case through the business. So right now, it does not appear that this was a random crime.”
Records filed in Prince George’s County District Court illustrate some of Wint’s long-standing brushes with the law. In the mid-2000s, four people — including his father and a housemate — petitioned for restraining orders, the records show. Not all requests were granted, but a judge did order Wint to stay away from his father for a year.
In November 2005, Dennis Wint wrote in a sworn statement that his son had threatened violence. Police ordered the younger Wint to leave, but he stayed nearby, his father said, and “stood in the street in front of the house and continued to threaten me and my wife. I also have an 8-year-old child who was terrified.”
A year later, a housemate accused Wint of punching him during a dispute over loud music. Another time, during an argument with a person over a car that was parked on private property and had no tags, a woman said in court documents that “Mr. Wint became very violent and said he will drop us one by one.” Wint was ordered to stay away from the woman and her family members for six months.
Maryland defense attorney Robin Ficker, who represented Wint in about six minor criminal and traffic cases, all about 10 years ago, said he does not believe that his former client is capable of the crimes of which he is accused. “He’s not a match for this type of activity at all,” said Ficker, who hasn’t seen Wint in more than 10 years. “He’s the last one I would suspect with anything like this.”
Devera Zianal, who lives on the same street as Wint’s parents in Lanham, said she would occasionally see Wint sitting on the porch steps but that it didn’t appear he lived there full time. She said Wint’s father and his wife, Pamela, moved in about a decade ago. Wednesday night, police searched the split-level house.
Social media and other listings show that Dennis Wint works as an engineer or plumber and that his wife is a nurse at a senior home. “These parents did everything right,” said Zianal, who added that she saw Wint in the area as recently as last week. “They’re hardworking people, and this is a good neighborhood.”
Officials at American Iron Works declined to comment about Daron Wint’s employment. A housekeeper who had been with the family 20 years said she had never heard of Wint. Lanier, during her afternoon news conference, would not rule out other suspects but declined to elaborate.
Police said they are still unsure of a motive behind last week’s killings. Authorities said they believe that the victims were taken captive May 13 and killed the next day before their multimillion-dollar home was set ablaze. On the morning of May 14, Savvas Savopoulos’s assistant dropped a package off at the house with $40,000.
Police records also show a series of phone calls involving Savopoulos, his assistant, a bank and an accountant in the hours before the fire. A longtime housekeeper has said she received texts and voice mails from Savopolous and his wife telling her not to come to the house May 14.
Police have not described the scene inside the large brick house on Woodland Drive Northwest, near the vice president’s mansion but have said that three of the victims suffered trauma and stab wounds. Police believe that they were bound at some point. After the bodies were discovered about 1:15 p.m. May 14, police found the family’s blue Porsche torched in a church parking lot in Prince George’s two miles from the home of the suspect’s parents. Police had earlier released a video showing a blurred image of a man running away and now say they believe that the person was Wint.
Authorities said they linked Wint to the house through DNA recovered from a discarded crust from a Domino’s pizza that was delivered to the house the night of May 13, while the family was being held.
It came from a store on Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown. Regional Director Nico Casillas said his driver noticed nothing unusual during the transaction.
Records filed in Prince George’s County Circuit Court show that Wint grew up in Guyana, where he attended high school. He moved to the United States in 2000 and in July 2001 began basic training with the U.S. Marines at Parris Island, S.C. A spokeswoman for the Marines said he separated in September of that year and did not complete his training.
The court records also show that in 2010, while threatening a woman he had been out at a nightclub with earlier that morning, Wint bragged that he was “good with a knife” and not afraid of police. Another acquaintance, Jacinta Council, recalled Wint as a “drinking buddy” and said she accused him in 2009 of assault and a sex offense, saying he punched and groped her in a Greenbelt bar where she worked as a server. Council did not pursue the case, and the charges were dropped.
She said that apart from that incident with Wint, she “had not seen a side like that to him. I don’t try to put myself with people who are crazy, and except for that night, he never seemed crazy.”
Court records show that in 2010, Wint was charged after police found him sitting behind the dumpster of a gas station near American Iron Works with a two-foot-long machete in his backpack and a pellet gun. He pleaded guilty only to holding an open container of beer, and he spent one day in jail.
Wint also was arrested in 2006 in Oswego, N.Y., near Syracuse, and charged with stabbing a man, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the New York State court system, said that Wint had been arrested at least three times in the late 2000s on assault charges and been convicted in some cases.
Keith L. Alexander, Moriah Balingit, Paul Duggan, Mary Pat Flaherty, Dana Hedgpeth, Arelis Hernández, Jennifer Jenkins, Justin Jouvenal, Antonio Olivo and Donna St. George contributed to this report.