City Desk

Robert Wone’s Death: More Details, Still No Answers

Saturday's A1 story in the WaPo about the murder of lawyer Robert Wone on Swann Street filled in a few of the chilling details that have been hanging around in rumors for more than two years. But neither the article nor the affidavit do any more to answer why he was killed or who killed him.

I was at Robert's funeral. It was perhaps the saddest funeral I have ever attended and I never even met him. Both my husband and one of our dearest friends went to college with Robert and with Arent Fox attorney Joe Price, one of the three men who lived in the house where Robert was killed. I know Joe, his partner, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, who was charged last week with obstruction of justice, tangentially and have been to the Swann house a couple of times for cocktails. All three of them are funny and sweet and I have seen true acts of kindness from them regarding our mutual friend.

I don't know what happened the night Robert was killed, but the affidavit describes a murder worse than I imagined, inferring that he was drugged, sexually assaulted, and was alive for some time after being stabbed repeatedly in the chest. It's a difficult read for anyone, but I especially worry about Robert's wife. Kathy Wone clearly lost the love of her life and, amazingly, was able to stand in front of a packed church in August 2006 and give a eulogy that was touching and funny and heart-breaking. I often wonder what I would do if faced with a situation like hers; in no way do I begrudge the way she's conducted herself in an effort to find out what happened to her husband. I truly hope some day she does find out. And I would caution that no one at this point has been found guilty of a crime. There seems to be only one certainty in this case so far: It's a tough, fraught situation for everyone involved.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Eleonora D’Arborea

    That was a very thoughtful update, Julie. I'm sure I'm not the only person who lives near the house who wishes we could have done something to stop this tragedy from happening.

    But, with all due respect to your relationship with the men under scrutiny in this case, I felt baffled and angry after reading the affidavit. I do not understand why charges of obstruction were not brought earlier. The facts have not changed between now and when the crime was committed. If it is true that there was a significant lag time between the time Mr. Wone was stabbed and when 911 was called, at a bare minimum there was negligence or depraved indifference shown.

    I simply don't understand why law enforcement has not been more assertive. If the three men under scrutiny are the perpetrators, they may have harmed more men. If they are not, an extremely dangerous person is roaming around and will (if he hasn't already) harm others. It really seems as though law enforcement doesn't care either way.

  • Mimi Joyner

    Well, these "funny and sweet" guys that you know sure sound like a bunch of Jekyll and Hyde psychopaths in the arrest warrant. I am outraged hearing about what happened to Robert Wone. Anyone who actually knows those guys should be telling police of any more odd behaviors observed of them.

  • Eleonora D’Arborea

    The impression I have from the affidavit is that the police weren't actively interviewing people. It sounds like the police didn't talk to the woman who lived in the basement apartment until several days elapsed. I am almost a next-door neighbor, and the police never interviewed me or my partner - though a fleeing "intruder" could have easily tossed the murder weapon into the bushes etc. in my yard. I guess the notion that the "intruder" might go from one house to another, either to break in and hide or take a hostage or whatever the night of the murder didn't cross their minds.

    I've thought further about your post, Jule, and now I think its inadequate. Were the police sure from the start that there was no intruder? Because if they weren't sure, our neighborhood should have been lit up with squad car sirens trying to find the guy. It seems to me that the lax attitude of the investigators - not searching for the "intruder," not interviewing key persons right away, not comprehensively interviewing people in the immediate vicinity of the crime, not searching for evidence outside the property - is of a piece with the Chandra Levy murder, among others. In both cases - and again, I'm sure there are others - the investigators started slow, weren't comprehensive, and totally ignored the potential threat to public safety.

    And why two years to bring a charge of obstruction? Did it take that long to get lab results back? Was there toxicology testing for Pavalon, rufies, etc, or just for the usual illegal recreational drugs (listed in the affidavit). If not - why? Can they tell from the needle marks whether fluid was injected (vs. "needle play")?

    So many questions, and nobody in the press is asking.

    If the police can't figure this one out, what's to stop any couple or group of friends from just inviting someone over to their house, killing them, tossing the murder weapon, calling 911 an hour later and then telling the police some absurd story - and getting away with it?

  • Greg


    You need to get with the program. It appears a colossal coverup by three evil men, deep into the violent sado-masochistic fringe of the gay community, murdered this poor man who chose the wrong friends to trust. Vile, obscene, perverted, only begins to describe these events. Using their wealth to pay the best lawyers to get them off, keeping a conspiacy of silence, protecting themselves however possible. And what does this say about the Arent Fox law firm, who continues to employ a suspected murderer. Would you hire that firm? Or his partner, working in a nice job with the Milk folks.

    Everyone blames the police. Let's look at these Charles Addams characters and force them to tell the truth. There will be no coverup of this gruesome murder, no matter how hard they try.

  • Todd Stolfa

    Hats off to you for speaking out on behalf of the three people you personally know involved in this tragic crime.These three are being crucified for their lifestyle not for any crime. Having worked with Dylan for the last year I to have seen a person who is kind and spiritual and incapable of such a horrible crime.It's hard to believe that these three have been convicted by the police and press,I was always told that one was innocent until proven guilty.The finger pointing should be done at the investigators and D.A. who obviously drop the ball in the handling of this case, Also last but most important my prayers and thoughts go out to the Wone family,I hope that soon the person or persons responsible will be brought to justice and the family will find closer.

  • Josh

    After reading the affidavit in detail, it seems to me that all evidence indicates that Price, Zaborsky and Ward, at a minimum, know more than what they are telling. That scenario is certainly more likely than the "intruder" theory. In my humble opinion, the relationship between Price and Ward is key to alleged cover up. We'll just have to see how the trial goes.

  • Questioning the “Facts”

    Do you always read one side of a story and come to a conclusion? From the details released in the affidavit it is hard to imagine the kind of people capable of these crimes. The men who stand accused are simply not cruel or evil but rather kind-hearted and decent people. There must be more to this story and I hope for everyone involved that the truth comes out.

  • Mark

    Party drugs--meth, coke, GHB, extacy, etc...--can cause otherwise "normal" folks to commit horrendous acts. I am somewhat familiar with the lifestyle the three men lead and can understand how things could have gotten out of control. What is inexcusable is the continued silence when it is obvious that they know more than they have told police.

  • durden

    Julie, you are a moron. More probably a fag hag without a clue to the lurking sadist that lives and breathes under your nose. You are a first class idiot of a stupefying degree.

  • John

    From the details of the affidavit it seems clear to me that there was no intention murder or rape in this case. For one, there is no apparent motive and the victim and the men involved were friends. Second, the victim's semen was found in his anus. A man that is being raped does not ejaculate. A man that has been drugged to the point of incapacitation does not ejaculate. The report states that the cause of death was suffocation. A very common fetish is to be asphyxiated almost to the point of loss of consciousness. If you put all that together, the most likely explanation is that Wone and at least one other men in the house were high and were having sex. Whoever was involved was extremely negligent and allowed a man that he was responsible for keeping alive to die. The right thing to do would have been to come clean, however, it is obvious also that the men were attempting to keep their jobs and possibly protecting Wone's wife from the truth by conducting the coverup. Considering the facts of the case, I can not say with any confidence they would have received a fair trial. Though this is not an excuse, it helps explain why three seemingly law abiding and much respected men would cover up a crime.

  • Peggy

    Indeed, the victim was obviously secretly gay, otherwise it's impossible to imagine why would a straight man spend a night in a house with 3 rabid homosexuals.

  • Eleonora D’Arborea

    Todd Stolfa, you must be out of your mind.

    1. Ward, Price and Zaborsky fail the OJ test: if they were not responsible for Wone's murder, why were they not frantically searching for the real killer of their dear friend? As a neighbor, I can tell you that NO ONE was knocking on doors that night looking for a crazed home-invading knife-wielding maniac.

    How does Dylan explain this?

    2. Ward, Price and Zaborsky were not party to a "tragic accident." They waited until they had showered and staged the crime scene before calling 911. They waited until AFTER Wone had died to call 911. If they had not waited, he might have lived.

    How does Dylan explain this?

    3. There was no break-in. Someone in the house stabbed Robert Wone THREE TIMES while he was unconscious. Stabbing is NOT accidental.

    How does Dylan explain this?

    4. Of the three men, Dylan looks like the guiltiest. He's the one who had the murder weapon - the missing knife from the cutlery set kept in his room. He's the one with manuals instructing how to incapacitate someone without leaving marks. He's the one with the obvious sadistic fetishes. He's the one who was arrested first.

    How does Dylan explain this?

    Mark my words, in the end Joe and Zaborsky will stick together and they will hang Dylan out to dry. Dylan is the third wheel, he is expendable. It will be easy for them to say they didn't know or hear or see anything from the third floor. They will say Dylan was on drugs and was unstable. Joe will say he knew Wone for many years and had never harmed him, obviously Wone trusted him or he would not have stayed overnight at the house. They'll say Dylan was jealous of Joe and Zaborsky's relationship, that they were trying to get Dylan to move out, that they wanted Dylan to get his own life and to stop being a parasite on their relationship. They'll say Dylan was so enraged that he killed Wone to get back at Price.

    Notice in the affidavit how Zaborsky said Dylan was not an equal part of the relationship with Joe? If Zaborsky thinks there is a chance Joe will serve any time, he will finger Dylan to save Joe. Of course he will. Dylan is the odd man out.

    And if your friend Dylan is really, truly innocent - did he ever think maybe Zaborsky did this to frame him, to get Joe to hate him, and to get him out of the relationship once and for all by sending him to prison so he'd never see Joe again, and Zaborsky could finally have a normal relationship with Joe without Dylan the Third Wheel?

    At the very least, Dylan is going to have to answer these questions if he ever wants the world to view him as anything other than a vile, perverted murderer. Beyond that, the writing is on the wall that Dylan will emerge as the guilty party as testified by Zaborsky and perhaps Joe; Zaborsky and Joe will walk free in exchange for testifying against Dylan. Joe and Zaborsky have more money, they have shared assets, they have a life together. Dylan is expendable.

    This is the guy you are friends with. Think about it.

  • Maggie

    I would caution anyone against making assumptions about Robert's sexual involvement with these men. He may have trusted the wrong people, but having known the real Robert I find it incomprehensible that he would deceive his wife in that way. Lying and cheating may seem commonplace to us, but it was not for Robert. He was a much better person than most of us. He really only saw the best in people. It breaks my heart that he also extended this generosity to people who didn't care if he lived or died.

  • Paul

    This case is very sad and I really feel for Kathy Wone; what a horrible nightmare. Considering all the evidence, it seems likely that Robert may have been having some sort of a relationship with Dylan and/or that Dylan was on drugs and decided to abuse Robert and ended up killing him. One fact that is puzzling is how Robert could ejaculate if drugged. Could he have been having S&M sex with Dylan and been accidently suffocated? Then the murder was staged? If he was totally drugged up by Dyan, is it even possible he could have had an orgasm?

    The three way relationship isn't something that they should be punished for, only the facts of the case. However, I think it is sybaritic and off-putting.

    Whoever is innocent in this -- if any of them -- better come clean now to save his own hide!

  • http://huh i had to look this up

    rectal probe ejaculation (REE) will force a man to ejaculate and is used for to produce sperm from spinal cord injury sufferers. Ward seems to have had items in his room that could do this, didn't the affidavit refer to items for insertion into the anus?

  • J

    Durden- to call Jule a fag hag is rude and cruel itself. Comments like that probably mean you are a psychopath yourself. Hmmm- Im guessing your one of the sick fucks that killed this poor man.

  • Hate that I looked this up

    you are right i had to look this up. i had to look it up too. the devices are also used on animals for breeding purposes. it can even be used to make a dying person ejaculate and may even work on someone who is recently deceased.

    julie, when you were over for drinks did "funny and sweet" ward show you the RACK that he kept in his room or show you pictures on the computer of price drinking ward's urine? sometimes things are not what they appear. very sadly in this case.

    rip robert.

  • dukeduke

    This story is so unbelievable that I have difficulty accepting the police report as fact. What is the motive? It can't be as simple as the report suggested. Only time and more thorough investigation will tell the truth. Robert's wife, the Asian community and the Gay community deserves to know the truth. Is it possible the motives extends beyond the the people inside that house? I heard through friends that this Asian lawyer was about to be confirmed for a powerful post. I hope the police department conduct an even more thorough investigation of the crime scene and extend their search to beyond the walls of that residence. Only discovering the truth and bringing justice to the perpetrator will help Robert rest in peace and help his wife, his community and even his friends (if they are innocent) bring closure. A secret held by one person can be covered; but by three people, it will be a matter of time it falls apart. The police and investigator needs to be vigilant and thorough.

  • Alvin Steffey

    Lets just forget all this craziness and move on!
    The Lord has obviously made his decision regarding Mr. Wone.
    Lets all go out and get a drink and leave those 3 honorable men alone.