The Robert Wone Killing: Three Years Later
Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, Craig Brownstein headed over to 1509 Swann Street NW, the house where lawyer Robert Wone was found stabbed to death exactly three years before. Wone had showed up there himself around that time on Aug. 2, 2006; six minutes before midnight, he was found lifeless by emergency medical technicians.
Sunday's event wasn't really a vigil. Brownstein and his co-editors at the blog whomurderedrobertwone.com – Michael Kremin, David Greer, and Doug Johnson – didn't make a big deal about getting together, or telling others that they were, though there was a live shot for Sunday's 11 o'clock news.
They just placed some Black-Eyed Susans, and other summer flowers picked from Brownstein's yard, by the front door, and then they stood around and talked about the case.
Wone's death was ruled a homicide – police say he was drugged, sexually assaulted, then repeatedly stabbed – but no one has been charged with murder. Three men living in the residence at the time – Victor Zaborsky, Dylan Ward and Joe Price – have been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and are to stand trail in May. They deny involvement in his death.
It always comes back to the same point, Brownstein says: "We throw our hands up. We look at the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and we can't make them fit."
Brownstein's blog is doing some anniversary coverage this week, pondering various theories, reprinting old news stories, and still asking: Who killed Robert Wone? He and the site's co-founders, together, spend as many as eight hours working on it most days; they have no direct connection to the case other than wanting to see it solved.
In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Brownstein and Greer chronicled a series of missteps and mistakes in the investigation. Some of the evidence has been lost, some was tainted from the start. Some has yet to be tested, they say, all this time later:
Many want to see justice in the scores of unsolved cases, but this one example has revealed a chilling fact: Being a homicide victim in the District may be a great equalizer; position guarantees you nothing. If the slain former colleague of the U.S. attorney general gets lethargic and sloppy treatment from authorities, then what hope do the rest of us have? The District may be a great place to live, but it's a bad place to die.
After about 45 minutes standing around outside the old crime scene Sunday, the small group went home. It had seemed the right thing to do.
"We've taken a certain responsibility," Brownstein says.