Details of alum’s murder released

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November 21, 2008

1:47 AM

Washington police may be moving closer to solving the perplexing murder of Robert Wone ’96.

The unsolved murder of this College of William and Mary graduate is surrounded in mysterious circumstances. Continued efforts from the Washington metro police recently led to the release of chilling new details and an arrest in the case.

In an affidavit signed Oct. 27 and made public three days later by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Washington police issued an arrest warrant for Dylan Ward on charges of obstruction of justice relating to Wone’s death, which occurred two years ago on the night of Aug. 2, 2006.

Wone was found murdered in the Dupont Circle district townhouse of Joe Price ’93, Victor Zaborsky and Ward. A resident of Oakton, Va. where he lived with his wife, Katherine, Wone was sleeping over at the townhouse following a late night at his new job as general counsel to Radio Free Asia, a non-profit broadcast news corporation.

Wone attended the College with Price, where the two participated in many of the same activities and remained friends after graduation. Both men served as president’s aides, members of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and in high-ranking positions with the Student Association, now called the Student Assembly.

Arriving at the College from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1992, Wone immediately made a strong impression on fellow students and faculty. As a Monroe scholar, he spent time with Charles Center and Monroe scholar director Joel Schwartz, who remembers Wone as a kind and loyal friend.

“[Wone] was very, very active on campus, involved with the Student Association, as well as a lot of other things,” Schwartz said. “Something that came out a lot when he first died is [that] he was widely admired and valued by everybody, and all I can do is underscore that.”

The affidavit goes into vivid detail concerning Wone’s murder and reconstructs the case, ultimately reaching the conclusion that Price, Zaborsky and Ward “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.”

Following the issuance of the affidavit, Ward was arrested in Miami, Fla., where he currently lives. According to The Washington Post, he agreed not to contest extradition to Washington.

The initial call to 9-1-1, placed by Zaborsky, occurred at 11:49 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2006, according to the affidavit. However, a witness living in the residence adjacent to the townhouse reported hearing a scream while watching the Channel 9 news, which ran from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. that night. The scream was explained to be Zaborsky’s reaction upon discovering Wone’s body, placing Zaborsky’s knowledge of the body sometime between 19 and 49 minutes prior to the 9-1-1 call being placed.

The main alibi put forward by the three residents, that an “intruder” committed the crime, was deemed impossible over the course of the investigation. According to the affidavit, Mr. Wone’s valuables, including a wallet, Movado watch and Blackberry phone, were undisturbed within plain sight of his body. Any possible intruder would also have passed multiple televisions and a laptop on their way to and from the second-story room in which Wone was staying, yet there were “absolutely no signs of forced entry.”

Upon arriving at the scene, emergency medical service workers and police encountered a plethora of strange phenomena, in addition to the lack of evidence supporting forced entry. The document cites one medical worker as noting that the behavior of Price, Zaborsky and Ward, who all appeared in “crisp, white robes,” looking as if each had just showered, was so suspicious that it “made the hair on the back of [the worker’s] neck stand up.”

After examining Wone’s body, another emergency medical worker came to the initial conclusion that the body appeared to have been “showered, redressed and placed in the bed” where it was found. This observation came from the noticeable lack of blood in the room. Wone was found wearing a gray William and Mary t-shirt with three tears roughly correlating to the three stab wounds found on his body. Yet neither the shirt nor the immediate area surrounding the body contained much blood.

The affidavit states that a search of Ward’s bedroom, located next to the room where Wone was found, yielded a copy of the Aug. 7 issue of The New Yorker opened to an article entitled, “Late Works, Writers Confronting the End.” The article contains a full-page sketch of William Shakespeare on his death bed.

According to the affidavit, “[Shakespeare’s] body is shown positioned similar to the way Mr. Wone’s body was positioned when it was found.”

A knife with Wone’s blood recovered on a nightstand near the body was examined by a blood spatter expert and determined to have not been the weapon used in Wone’s stabbing. The expert concluded that the blood pattern on the knife was not consistent with a stabbing, but instead with being smeared against a white cotton towel. Incidentally, the police recovered such a towel at the crime scene.

The three residents claimed to have used the towel to cover Wone’s wounds, but the expert refuted this claim. The knife was found to contain over 10 white cotton fibers linking the knife with the towel, yet there were no gray fibers, the color of the shirt Wone was found wearing, on the knife or towel.

The affidavit also mentions a three-knife box set recovered from Ward’s room that was missing a knife. Upon contacting the manufacturer of the set, police were able to determine that the length of the missing knife, 4.5 inches, was more consistent with the depth of the stab wounds found on Wone’s body than the knife recovered on the nightstand, which measured 5.5 inches. The missing knife from Ward’s set has not been recovered.

An autopsy of the body determined that Wone was incapacitated and unable to defend himself, but still alive, at the time he was stabbed. While multiple needle puncture marks were initially observed on the body, the lab technician performing the autopsy issued only standard toxicology tests that did not test for “incapacitating or paralytic drugs.” This was because “there was no early indication — in light of the statements that Price, Zaborsky and Ward gave to the police — that Mr. Wone may have been injected with any such drugs.”

The autopsy also discovered evidence that Wone was sexually assaulted.

Though Wone was heterosexual, according to the affidavit, the document also describes a committed homosexual relationship between Price and Zaborsky, who shared the townhouse’s third floor bedroom. A second homosexual relationship, this one between Price and Ward, was described as well. Citing the three residents interconnected relationship as evidence, the affidavit makes note that “Price, Zaborsky and Ward have a very close relationship and clearly have motive to preserve and protect the interests of one another.”

While the affidavit’s release and subsequent arrest of Ward brings the two-year saga following Wone’s death toward an end, Schwartz is one of many of Wone’s acquaintances who prefer to remember him more for the way he lived than for his death.

Schwartz still keeps a file in his desk that details Wone’s involvement in the defense of a female student who encountered rumors and harassment over the course of a Student Association election. Though not involved in the election, Schwartz said Wone was more than willing to assist her.

“[Wone] kind of took up the charge to have the issue investigated and bring some justice and order to the thing,” Schwartz said. “I bring this up because [it demonstrates] the kind of concern about other people, kind of fairness, justice [Wone displayed]. I admire him a lot. He was active on campus, did great things and we should be so lucky to have other students like him.”

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