Jordan Wallace had been working for the wealthy Washington Savopoulos family for about two months when three members of the family and their housekeeper were stabbed, strangled and set on fire in May 2015.
In his first public statements since the killings, the 31-year-old former chauffeur and personal assistant to Savvas Savopoulos told a D.C. Superior Court jury how his boss contacted him on a spring night, telling him he was to deliver a package to the house the following morning.
That package, $40,000 in four stacks of $100 bills, was money Savopoulos had ordered withdrawn from his bank. Prosecutors said it was a ransom, which the businessman hoped in vain would save his life and the lives of his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son, Philip, and family housekeeper Veralicia “Vera” Figueroa. All four were held captive in Savopoulos’s Northwest Washington home on the evening of May 13, 2015.
Wallace testified that on the morning of the drop-off, Savopoulos told him to put the money in a sports car parked in the garage.
“Don’t knock. I’ll be on conference call,” Wallace recalled his boss telling him. “I’ll just meet you at work later.”
Prosecutors described Wallace as a devoted employee and one of the last people to hear from Savopoulos. Defense attorneys, though, alleged in their opening statements that Wallace may have played a role in the slayings.
Wallace testified in D.C. Superior Court during the second week of the trial of Daron Wint, the 36-year-old Lanham, Md., man charged with four counts of first-degree murder, arson, kidnapping and other crimes associated with the killings.
Wint’s attorneys with the District’s Public Defender Service argued that Wint — the only person arrested in the case — was not involved in the killings. They said in opening statements that Wint’s brother Steffon and half brother Darrell, with the help of Wallace, carried out the killings. Steffon and Darrell have not responded to requests for comment.
In court, Wallace said he was not involved in the crimes and repeatedly told Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Bach that he had never met Daron Wint or anyone in his family.
“Did you have anything to do with the murders and kidnapping?” Bach asked.
“No ma’am,” Wallace responded.
During questioning by prosecutors, Wallace broke down in tears several times as he talked about his former boss, “Ms. Amy,” and Philip, whom he said he thought of as a brother.
“He was incredible, intelligent and ambitious. He was the hardest-working person I had ever met, let alone a kid,” Wallace said of Philip.
Wallace said he met the Savopoulos family when he worked as an instructor at the go-kart track Autobahn in Jessup, Md. He said Philip came for lessons.
Wallace said that he lost his job at the facility after asking for a raise and to be put on salary, and that Savvas Savopoulos offered to hire him.
Prosecutors played a voice mail that Savvas Savopoulos left for Wallace the evening before he was killed. In that message, Savopoulos, his voice calm, said “there was a change of plans” and that he needed Wallace to deliver a package to the house.
Authorities now believe Savopoulos, his wife, son and housekeeper were being held hostage at the time Savopoulos made the call. As Savopoulos’s voice filled the courtroom, Wallace began crying, wiping his eyes and nose with a tissue.
Wallace testified that he was appreciative of Savopoulos’s generosity and also awestruck at the family’s wealth, which included owning five luxury vehicles.
Under cross examination, Jeffrey Stein, one of Wint’s attorneys, immediately asked Wallace about the “multiple lies” Stein said Wallace told detectives.
Wallace testified that the car he placed the money in was unlocked. But just hours after the fire on May 14, Stein noted, Wallace told detectives that the car was locked and described how he got a key from a nearby cabinet.
Wallace testified that he misspoke.
In another example, Wallace testified that he put the cash inside a manila envelope. But during interviews with detectives, Wallace said a Savopoulos colleague who withdrew the cash from the bank put it in the envelope.
Stein also asked Wallace about a photo of the cash that he took and sent to his girlfriend. Wallace told authorities that he had deleted the photo immediately after taking it, fearing that Savopoulos would be angry, but later acknowledged he deleted it after the fire. Wallace testified that he sent the image to impress his girlfriend.
Stein also asked Wallace if he used marijuana. Wallace said he began smoking marijuana in college. Stein asked Wallace if he had ever purchased marijuana from Daron Wint’s brother. Wallace said he had not.
Wallace is expected to resume his testimony Tuesday.
Paul Duggan contributed to this report.