Prominent young lawyer Robert Wone was "restrained, incapacitated, sexually assaulted, and stabbed" in a Dupont Circle home in Washington, D.C., in 2006, police said in an arrest affidavit released Friday that sheds new light on a high-profile homicide investigation.
The 13-page affidavit explores the lives of the three men living at the $1.2 million town house on Swann Street Northwest, their friendship, their romantic relationships -- and their alleged meddling in a two-year investigation into the slaying of a promising lawyer.
One of the men, Dylan Michael Ward, 38, was arrested in Florida last week on an obstruction charge in connection with the murder. Ward is being held without bond in federal custody and is expected to return to the District of Columbia.
The affidavit pieces together circumstantial and forensic evidence that police say undercuts the men's claims that an intruder broke into their Dupont home on the night of Aug. 2, 2006, climbed 16 wooden stairs to the second-floor guest room, and stabbed Wone three times with a kitchen knife.
The other two men who lived in the house -- Arent Fox partner Joseph Price and Victor Zaborsky, senior marketing manager of the International Dairy Foods Association -- have not been charged. But authorities say "there exists overwhelming evidence, far in excess of probable cause," that all three men obstructed justice by "altering and orchestrating the crime scene, planting evidence, delaying the reporting of the murder to the authorities, and lying to the police about the true circumstances of the murder."
Ward was arrested at a house in Miami Shores, Fla., that is owned by Price and Zaborsky.
Among the affidavit's revelations: While the autopsy revealed no signs of defensive wounds, the medical examiner noted several needle puncture marks on Wone's body, suggesting that he might have been paralyzed by a drug before he was stabbed. The autopsy was also "suggestive of Mr. Wone having been sexually assaulted." The blade of the knife found at the scene of the murder was longer than Wone's wounds were deep. The affidavit alleges the real murder weapon was disposed of.
Price is represented by Cozen O'Connor partner Bernard Grimm and D.C. solo practitioner Kathleen Voelker. Grimm declined to comment. Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis' Thomas Connolly, who is representing Zaborsky, referred calls to Ward's lawyer, Schertler & Onorato's David Schertler.
Schertler says investigators have conflated facts and theory.
"Our clients are completely innocent," says Schertler, former chief of the Homicide Section in the U.S. Attorney's Office here. "What the prosecution has done is cobbled together a variety of circumstantial and forensic evidence that can be interpreted in a completely different way than the prosecution has chosen to interpret it."
Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor, declines to discuss whether Zaborsky or Price will face obstruction charges.
"The investigation is clearly continuing, though," he says. Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner, head of the office's Homicide Section, is the lead prosecutor investigating the case.
Arent Fox, through a spokesman, declined to discuss Price's future at the firm. "This is an ongoing criminal investigation, and therefore we feel it is not appropriate or proper to comment at this time," firm spokesman Steven Harras says. "This was a terrible tragedy, and like all Washingtonians, we offer our sympathies to the family of the victim and join with everyone in hoping this crime will be solved as soon as possible."
Criminal defense lawyers say the obstruction charges smack of desperation in a two-year investigation that has yet to bear fruit. "They're going to find a weak link and start squeezing," D.C. criminal defense lawyer Jensen Barber says. "The police are going to play everybody off the other guy. It's a process."
The news of Ward's arrest "appears to confirm our worst fears" about Wone's murder, Covington & Burling partners Eric Holder Jr. and Benjamin Razi, who represent Wone's widow, said in a statement. The lawyers are urging Price, Zaborsky and Ward to give more detail about the events the night Wone was killed. "On behalf of Robert's family and friends, we reiterate that call now. It is never too late to tell the truth."
In August 2006, Wone had recently left Covington & Burling to take a job as general counsel for Radio Free Asia. He knew he would be working late the night he was killed and had arranged to stay with Price, an old friend from college, rather than commute home to Oakton, Va., where he lived with his wife, Kathy. It was the first time he spent the night at the Dupont home, police say.
When paramedics arrived, they told investigators, Zaborsky, Price and Ward seemed placid. One paramedic, a 15-year veteran, remembered feeling that something was "very wrong" as they tried to question the men. The other, a 10-year veteran paramedic, said the conduct of the men "made the hair on the back of [the paramedic's] neck stand up." Wone lay on the bed, supine, his wounds apparently clean and the bed covers folded neatly, as though Wone had been "stabbed, showered, redressed, and placed in the bed," one paramedic observed.
Police discount the theory that an intruder killed Wone. Wone's wallet, Movado watch and BlackBerry were on a table at the foot of the bed where his body was found. Nothing in the room was disturbed. The "insignificant" amount of blood on the bed was inconsistent with a violent stabbing, police said.
"By all accounts and evidence, Price, Zaborsky and Ward have a very close relationship and clearly have motive to preserve and protect the interests of one another," Detective Bryan Waid said in the affidavit.
In Ward's bedroom, police recovered shackles, metal and leather collars, wrist and ankle restraints, mouth gags, black spandex hoods, and an electrical shock device, among other items, according to the affidavit. There were books on inflicting pain and enslaving for sexual gratification. A New Yorker magazine on the floor was opened to an article titled "Late Works, Writers Confronting the End." Ward said he had been reading the article before Wone was killed.