Among Friends

Date Published 10.01.06
It’s an unfortunate fact of homicide that most victims are killed by people they know. One can usually point to a precipitating event - an escalating custody battle, a dispute over money, that sort of thing. That’s why the case of Robert Wone is so baffling. Everyone agrees that Wone, 32, was murdered at his friend’s house. But no one can figure out what went wrong.

It was the evening of August 2 when Wone, a Washington D.C. attorney, visited the Dupont Circle townhouse of his friend, Joseph Price. Price, a partner in a prestigious D.C. firm, knew Wone from their alma mater, the College of William and Mary. That evening at 11:49 p.m. someone from Price’s house called the police: Robert Wone had been stabbed three times in the chest. Wone was later pronounced dead at the hospital, and the police, smelling the faint scent of bleach in the home and noting no forced entry, quickly became interested in Joseph Price and his two roommates.

They were asleep at the time of the murder, the three men insisted, and claimed there must have been an intruder. Skeptical police leaked damaging details to the press. The knife used in the attack came from a matching set of knives in the kitchen. Blood appeared to have been cleaned up before police arrived. Price and his two roommates hired criminal defense attorneys, and clammed up.

Robert Wone

How did a well-liked young attorney end up stabbed in the heart at his friend’s house? Details, intriguing but not fully explained, have churned up rampant chatter. The gossip is fueled by several facts. The night he died Wone worked late at his job as general counsel for Radio Free Asia. According to friends and co-workers, he decided to stay overnight at his friend Price’s house rather than drive to his Oakton, VA home, where he lived with his wife of three years. Price, a prominent gay rights advocate, co-owns the home with his long-term partner, Victor Zaborsky. In 2004, Price and Zaborsky were the subject of a USA Today article about gay parents. A third man, Dylan Ward, also lived at the house. Until recently Ward was a spokesman for Equality Virginia, a gay rights organization for which Price is general counsel.

Internet conjecture buzzed with the possibilities. Was Wone having a homosexual affair? Had he interrupted a lovers quarrel? Had there been another person in the home that night, perhaps an additional guest known to the residents? Defenders of the three men pointed out that crime, particularly break-ins and burglaries, has risen dramatically in the DuPont Circle neighborhood. Meanwhile, friends of Wone recalled a gentle and ethical man who was an unlikely adulterer with either men or women. Defense attorneys for the three men publicly maintained their clients' innocence. The case deepened into an ever baffling whodunit.

Two months after the murder investigators maintain a steady and discreet presence. Of particular interest to police is communication between Wone and Price in the days leading up the murder, according to an affidavit that was made public. Investigators recently seized computers and USB drives from Price's law office and home.

Robert Wone has been described by those who knew him as a loyal and endearing friend; sadly, it looks like people he thought were friends may have abandoned him at a time when he needed them most.

As WUSA 9 reported on August 17:
Law enforcement sources tell 9NEWS NOW it's becoming increasingly clear the murder of Robert Wone involves a criminal conspiracy. Multiple sources say, at the very least, the attempted clean-up; if not the act of murder itself, involves more than one person.

When police arrived at the Swann Street row house, Robert Wahn's body was found in a second floor bedroom with three stab wounds. Detectives estimate those wounds were at least an hour old.

In the preceding hour, 9NEWS NOW has learned the body was moved and then moved again. According to sources, the body of the attorney for Radio Free Asia had been moved out of the bedroom where the stabbing occurred. It was then returned to it after the scene had been cleaned.

As we reported Monday, detectives swore in an affidavit that the crime scene had been tampered with and the area where the victim's body was located had been cleaned.

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Know what he does believe in? PAC $. Took 10K from HRC pac 2006. That means he's in her pocket.#BSLogic
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Good one. Unfortunately Bernie on record as not believing in charity.
@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.