City Desk

Romantic Woes Weighed On Wone Suspects Weeks Before Murder

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Just six weeks before the grisly murder of D.C. lawyer Robert Wone in their guest room, the housemates at 1509 Swann Street NW may have been struggling to keep their romantic threesome intact.

Documents recently filed by prosecutors suggest that defendant Dylan Ward may have been losing interest in lover Joseph Price. Both Ward and co-defendant Victor Zaborsky were domestic partners with Price. All three lived together in the house on Swann Street. Now, all three face more than 30 years in prison if convicted of conspiring to cover up Wone's murder. Judge Lynn Leibovitz is expected to announce verdicts Tuesday.

The dynamics of the Swann Street trio's three-way relationship has played a pivotal role in the prosecution's case. (WhoMurderedRobertWone.com offers a thoughtful breakdown here.)

The prosecution offers that in an email, dated June 20, 2006, "Price expressed to Ward that he was 'scared and upset' by Ward's apparent disinterest in him, noting that 'it is nevertheless nerve racking and [he had] spent the past couple of days obsessing about why this happened and how, hunting for some clue or understanding but finding none...Guess we wait and see what happens and hope for the best.'"

But Price soon scrapped the wait-and-see approach for the up-the-ante method, according to court papers:

"Seemingly in an effort to draw Ward back into the relationship, a few weeks later Price suggested that he and Ward invite a third — not Zaborsky — for a sexual encounter: 'Hey love-of-my-life, I’m happy to give a third a try but only if you would like to try it.' Ward replied: 'yes, intimidating, but we can try, can't know what it's like without trying.'"

Zaborsky wasn't to participate in the adventure. "If  'scary’ means you are interested but that it is a little intimidating (I think it is),"  Price allegedly emails, "then we can give it a try, and I would think that while Vic is gone, maybe next Thursday evening?"

Adding another layer to the proposed tryst, an Alt.com profile, which prosecutors earlier claimed was connected to Price, suggests the men weren't hoping for any old third, but one who might be open to sadomasochistic sex play.

The prosecution, which presented its closing arguments Thursday, says the proposed second threesome is evidence that Price was the "fulcrum of the family" and that all three men were willing to make sacrifices (Zaborsky by being tolerant of the new activities) to keep that family together. Prosecutors say this illustrates the defendants' motive to facilitate a murder cover-up when someone within (or close to) that family brutally knifed Wone.

On August 2, 2006, Wone was stabbed to death while spending the night at the million-dollar Dupont Circle home of the defendants. The defendants say they had nothing to do with it, that an unidentified intruder entered the house and slaughtered their visitor. Prosecutors believe the three men know who killed Wone and are covering up to protect him.

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