Robert Wone: His Mysterious And Horrific Unsolved Murder Explained

In 2006, Robert Wone had so much going for him: a loving wife and family, an already accomplished, yet still promising career in law, and a tight-knit group of friends since college. But it would all come to a tragic end one horrific night when the young attorney made the fatal mistake of spending the night at a friend's house after a long day of work in Washington, D.C. Within hours of his arrival, Wone had been stabbed three times on a sofa bed and his dead body was found by the men who lived at the house, Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward.

In the following investigation and trials for the murder, several suspicious and absolutely terrible revelations were made public about the case, but most troubling of all was that the killer was never found. In the end, the mysterious killing of Wone reinforces the fact that one thing is certain — no matter if it is one you know personally or an unknown stranger, there are some truly horrible monsters in this world.

The victim was a well-respected attorney

Ever since Robert Wone was a kid, he was extremely driven and just genuinely a good person all around. Close friend and fellow attorney, Tara Ragone, provided a glimpse of what he was like in college to the Washingtonian, and said, "When the sculpture of a phoenix on campus was coated in bird droppings, he and some friends went out one night and scrubbed it clean."

As early as 15 years old, Wone began gaining valuable professional experience by first serving as a volunteer in the political campaign of Chuck Schumer, and then Mario Cuomo. After graduating with a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he went on to work at the prestigious firm, Covington & Burling. Throughout the years, Wone was also heavily involved in the Asian American community, serving as the volunteer general counsel of both the Organization of Chinese Americans and the Museum of Chinese in America, along with other prominent groups as well.

Both talented and intelligent, Wone could have made a lot of money but cared more about helping others than financial gain, and willingly took a pay cut to transition to a new position at Radio Free Asia. Mai Fernandez, co-director of the Latin American Youth Center, was one grateful recipient of the assistance he provided. She explained, "Robert became my go-to guy. No matter what it was, he had time to help — law, real estate, personnel. Not a week went by that I didn't call him. He was like my Batphone. No matter what the issue, he would help me think it through."

Robert Wone was staying with friends the night of the murder

Robert Wone was happily married to his wife, Kathy Wone, and lived with her in Oakton, Virginia. However, he was working late in Washington, D.C. the night of his death, and decided to sleep in the guestroom of a friend in the city, Joseph Price, rather than take the train home. Robert and Price met a decade earlier at the College of William & Mary and had remained close. At 9:30 pm, Robert told Kathy he loved her on the phone and later headed for the home near Dupont Circle, as reported by The Washington Post.

In around an hour, Robert arrived at the multi-storied house (pictured) and talked a bit with Price in the kitchen, along with his roommate and lover, Dylan Ward. Meanwhile, the third member of the housemates' polyamorous relationship, Victor Zaborsky, was in his bedroom on the third floor. Following their brief conversation at about 11 pm, Price headed up to the room he shared with Zaborsky, while the other two went to the second story where Ward's bedroom and the guestroom were located. Robert then showered before going to sleep.

Not much more than a half hour later, Price and Zaborsky were alerted by a chilling moaning sound, so the couple rushed downstairs. There, they found Robert had been stabbed to death and was laying on the sofa bed, a dreadful sight that caused Zaborsky to scream out in terror. The commotion woke Ward as well, so the trio called 911.

The three housemates were in a controversial relationship

A friend of Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward explained to the Washingtonian, "Joe was the patriarch of that family. He reveled in gathering everyone he considered part of that family, with him at the center. They were good at entertaining. Victor would cook. Joe would keep the conversation flowing. It seemed like everyone in the gay community knew Joe or knew someone who knew him." In addition to being known for frequently hosting Saturday night parties and Sunday brunches with friends and loved ones, Price was also an active supporter of the gay rights movement. He first became president of the UVa Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association, and then was later one of the founders of the advocacy group, Equality Virginia.

On the surface, there was nothing wrong with Price's life or unorthodox relationship with Zaborsky and Ward. There was so much love between him and Zaborsky, especially that the pair made an arrangement with two women in their own same-sex partnership, each having a child with one of them, and all raising them as a group. 

Following Wone's murder, police thoroughly searched the house and found books on how to inflict pain during sex, but also several bondage or torture devices were discovered, like an electric shocker, shackles, and a rack, among others more risqué. Based on the evidence recovered, the authorities stated in the affidavit, "This relationship included a dominant-submissive sexual relationship with Ward in the dominant role and Price in the submissive role."

The condition of the body was strange and disturbing

When paramedics arrived at the Price residence at around midnight, they were troubled by what they saw, to say the least. Paramedic Tracye Weaver later stated in the report that the circumstances appeared "very wrong," according to The Guardian. She then went on to explain that Robert Wone looked like he had been "stabbed, showered, redressed, and placed in the bed." The other first responder, Jeffrey Baker, agreed with the assessment that something was off and said, "It looked like his abdomen had been wiped. Kind of like when you wash a window." When talking with the Washingtonian, he added, "[The scene] made the hair on the back of my neck stand up."

The three open knife wounds were also quite substantial, yet there was practically no blood on Wone's body by the time the paramedics reached the scene. Even more disturbing was that blood was not found at all anywhere else in the room either, except for two relatively small spots on the bed.

Once the pathologist conducted the examination of the body, the chilling conditions only increased. Not only was there a strong indication that Wone had been suffocated, but needle marks were also found on his neck, chest, foot, and hand, yet drugs were not found in his bloodstream. Regardless, no signs of a struggle likely meant he was incapacitated when attacked. Equally horrifying was the evidence of a sexual assault as well.

The homeowners claimed an intruder was responsible

When Victor Zaborsky dialed 911 at 11:49 pm, he was gasping when he spoke to the operator and said, "We need an ambulance," according to The Guardian. He then added, "We had someone ... in our house, evidently, and they stabbed somebody." While the condition of Robert Wone's body was unsettling for the first responders, so was the behavior of Zaborsky, Joseph Price, and Dylan Ward. All three men looked freshly showered and wore white bathrobes. They were eerily quiet; Price did most of the talking to the paramedics and police.

At the same time, the housemates were very cooperative and willingly went through hours of questioning by law enforcement, submitting their fingerprints and DNA samples within days. The trio stuck with their story as well, that an intruder had committed the horrid murder. Price told detectives, "I know it sounds crazy. In fact, if you told me this and I wasn't in this place all night, I would say, 'No way, it cannot happen — that's crazy.' But damned if it didn't," as reported by the Washingtonian.

However, investigators were still highly skeptical because that meant the killer had to climb a 7-foot wall, walk up a flight of stairs, pass by an occupied bedroom, and then commit the murder completely undetected. The suspect would have then left without taking any of the electronics, cash, or other valuables in the house. Then there was the fact that police found undisturbed dust and cobwebs where the suspect supposedly moved through the property.

There was a tenant renting out the basement

Along with the homeowner, Joseph Price, and his partners, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, there was another tenant who lived in the basement, Sarah Morgan. Since Price was used to his roommate downstairs setting off the door chime whenever entering or leaving, he just assumed it was her returning when he claimed he heard the noise prior to the terrifying discovery that Robert Wone had been attacked. Morgan was not romantically involved with the men she shared the home with but was close enough with them that she described herself as "part of their family," according to NBC Washington.

Although Morgan was not at the house the night of the tragic murder, she believed her roommates' explanation about the intruder because she was already worried about how often the three left doors unlocked in their somewhat dangerous neighborhood. In her later court testimony, she also brought up some inappropriate ways the officers on the scene talked to Price, such as accusing him of, as she put it, "trying to gay Robert up."

Investigators thoroughly examined the house

In their thorough investigation of Joseph Price's home, the detectives emptied bookcases, removed parts of the floor, walls, and staircase, as well as taking out the washing machine, and examining the sink traps. Chemicals were also used extensively over multiple surfaces to find any potential bits of DNA left behind. Plus, the police searched through phone records and personal computers as well.

While there was no solid proof found to confirm the conclusion, the affidavit stated, "The cadaver dog alert on the rear stairwell drain and the lint filter of the clothes dryer suggest that bloody clothing or items were cleaned off in the backyard stairwell and then placed in the clothes dryer to dry" (via the Washingtonian).

After nearly a month of dedicated work, detective William Xanten said, "There was nothing that appeared out of place, nothing disturbed, nothing ransacked, and nothing was taken," as reported by The Washington Post. This led the authorities to pursue warrants for computers and phones at Price's law firm as well, yet still, no damning evidence was ever recovered through that route either.

Dylan Ward was arrested in Florida

In 2008, two years after Robert Wone was killed, Dylan Ward was arrested while living in Miami Shores, Florida — separate from Joseph Price and Victor Zaborsky, but in a house that the couple owned. The charge was obstruction in the murder case, for which he was forced to come back to Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, Price and Zaborsky still lived together in D.C. when they were also charged with obstruction of justice three weeks later. All three men pleaded not guilty to the crimes, and defense attorney David Schertler responded, "Our clients are completely innocent. 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" (via

The reaction to the charges was unsurprising to the authorities who expected as much. Detective Bryan Waid had stated in the affidavit, "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."

The three men were accused of tampering with evidence

Despite the claims of innocence from Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, the authorities were confident there was a case against them and stated publicly, "There exists overwhelming evidence, far in excess of probable cause," that all three men were guilty of "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" (via

There were reasons why law enforcement and the prosecution were certain an unknown intruder was not responsible for the murder of Robert Wone. The first was the trio's delay in calling 911. Neighbors reported hearing someone scream 20 minutes before Zaborsky alerted a dispatcher of the emergency.

Even more suspicious were the results of the inspection of the supposed murder weapon by forensic experts. The knife found on the bedside table next to Wone had too large of a blade for the size of the wounds on his body. Furthermore, there were fibers found on it, but not from the gray shirt he was wearing. Instead, the remnants were from a towel, as if it had been used to smear blood on the blade. On the other hand, a knife was missing from Ward's cutlery set that would have matched the depth of the punctures on the body, but the defendant's lawyer claimed that the blade remained in Seattle and had never been brought to Washington, D.C. in the first place.

Michael Price was suspected

A bizarre twist to an already complicated case began just three months after Robert Wone's murder when the brother of Joseph Price, Michael, broke into the same property to burglarize a plasma TV and other valuables. At that early stage, before Joseph, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward faced charges, Michael was not linked in any way to the killing, but that would not always remain the case.

Years later during the housemates' trial for conspiracy in 2010, prosecutor Glenn Kirschner went so far as to accuse the brother of committing the horrible crime due to his criminal history. However, the lack of solid evidence made this impossible to prove, so Michael's former lover, Louis Hinton, was brought in to testify. While Hinton did confirm the robbery of the house took place and revealed the abusive behavior of his ex-partner, nothing was said that provided further insight into the killing of Wone, forcing the prosecution to abandon the theory.

The housemates were found not guilty

In 2010, Robert Wone's loved ones failed to receive closure and were still left in the dark about what happened to him, as all three defendants, Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, were found not guilty of conspiracy. The trio had requested to not have a jury hear the case and instead opted for a judge to decide the verdict.

In her hour-long explanation of the decision, Judge Lynn Leibovitz explained she did not believe the men's account that an intruder committed the murder, yet the prosecution was also unable to provide sufficient evidence to back up their own theory that the defendants carried out a cover-up. She stressed, "From the beginning, this case has been a test of the meaning of reasonable doubt proof," as reported by The Washington Post

Likely most disturbing of all for the Wone family was the fact the judge revealed she thought the housemates knew who was responsible, but there was no way to prove that was the truth.

Kathy Wone filed a civil lawsuit against the defendants

After Robert Wone's family and friends received little closure at the conclusion of the trial for Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, the victim's wife, Kathy Wone, was not finished. She had filed a $20 million civil lawsuit for wrongful death against the same defendants, but after the men invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2011.  

The conclusion was not what Kathy was hoping for, but once it was all over, she was ready to put it all behind her and just focus on the cherished moments with Robert. She told The Washington Post, "I am moving on. I want to spend the next 40 years of my life focusing on good." She then added, "Not a day goes by when I don't think about [Robert]. It's tough going through each day without the person you assumed you'd spend the rest of your life with. I'm getting better at it. It's lonely." Kathy also made a scathing statement about the supposed friends of her deceased husband and said, "They can rot from the inside out from all the secrets they chose to keep. That's their choice. I chose to move on."