Detective Bryan Waid, a veteran DC cop, had called that afternoon and asked if he could come out and talk with Kathy. They agreed to meet on Saturday.
Waid told Kathy she could have one other person present for the interview. She asked Jason Torchinsky, a practicing attorney who had been a federal prosecutor in Milwaukee.
Detectives spent more than an hour with Kathy and Torchinsky. They wanted to know about her last conversation with her husband, his plans for the night, the call from Joe Price saying Robert had been stabbed.
The next night, Sunday, Joe Price called Torchinsky on his cell phone. Torchinsky was in the basement writing his eulogy for the Tuesday funeral. Price’s lawyers wanted to know what the detectives had asked when they’d visited with Kathy the day before. In order to get that information, Kathy would have to waive her attorney-client privilege with Torchinsky. Would he ask Kathy to let him share the conversation they’d had with the detectives?
“Let me think about it,” Torchinsky replied. He thought for less than a minute before the shock hit. Why would Price want to know what Kathy had told the police? Did he want to make sure their stories squared?
Torchinsky phoned a friend who was also a lawyer and explained the situation.
“Find her another lawyer,” the friend said. “You are too close, and you don’t know where this is going.”
In the middle of the night, the same friend e-mailed: “Contact Covington.”
On Monday morning, Jason Torchinsky e-mailed Robert Gage, the lead partner in Covington’s real-estate practice and Robert Wone’s boss for most of the six years he was at the firm. Gage was on vacation in Italy. He phoned Torchinsky from a train and asked him to send an e-mail explaining the entire situation and the sequence leading up to Joe Price’s phone call. Ten minutes later, Torchinsky got an e-mail from Eric Holder.
“I’d be glad to assist,” he wrote. Continuing, he said, “If you want me to represent Robert’s wife I can do that as well.” In an almost immediate e-mail follow up, Holder said, “I hope this goes without saying but this would of course be free of charge.”
Holder, a longtime Washingtonian, was spending a period of time in private practice. Ronald Reagan had appointed him to DC’s Superior Court bench in 1988; he stepped down in 1993 to accept an appointment by President Clinton as US Attorney for the District of Columbia. Clinton then asked him to serve as deputy attorney general in 1997. Holder left government and joined Covington & Burling in 2001.
Holder and Torchinsky talked Monday evening after the viewing for two hours. Holder—drawing from his days as chief prosecutor—asked detailed questions about the events and the people involved. He gave Torchinsky the sense that Robert Wone was considered part of the Covington family and that his widow would have the firm’s full support.
Tara Ragone drove down from New Jersey to attend Robert’s funeral on Tuesday, August 8. Columbia Baptist Church, a simple, spacious building in Falls Church, was full of people Robert had touched—in college, law school, volunteer organizations, church. More than a dozen friends who gave eulogies sat on the dais; Robert’s family was in the first pew.
A simple wooden casket held Robert’s body. Kathy had asked Joe Price to be one of the pallbearers.
Sitting in a pew, Ragone wondered how Price was handling the loss. She sympathized with him. His home had been invaded, his friend had been murdered, and people suspected him. She hugged and comforted him.
At a friend’s house after the funeral, Ragone asked a female friend: “How did the intruder get into Joe’s house?”
The friend looked at her as if she were crazy and said: “Oh, there was no intruder.”
Ragone was speechless. “Why would you think that?” she finally said. “Joe was Robert’s friend.”
The police had had doubts about the intruder story from the moment they surveyed the house and the room where they found Wone: all tidy and every object of value in place. Wone’s Movado watch and BlackBerry were still at the foot of the bed.
According to transcripts, detective Daniel Wagner posed this scenario to Price during six hours of interrogation:
“I got three homosexuals in the house and I got one straight guy. What’s he doing over there?”
Wagner answered his own question: “I think we were all drinking wine.” He filled in the trio’s thoughts about Wone: “ ‘You are coming to Jesus tonight.’ That’s what’s going on.”
After the night of questioning, the three housemates lawyered up, hiring some of the best defense attorneys in the city and communicating with authorities only through them.
Detective Bryan Waid attended the funeral and kept tabs on the housemates.
But Tara Ragone believed Price’s story. In her view, he was clearly in distress.
“I don’t think we will be arrested,” she says he told her.
“Why would you be?” she asked.
In the months that followed, little information surfaced about the case.
The day after the slaying, Captain C.V. Morris, then head of the DC police department’s Violent Crimes Branch, had told reporters in a briefing, “Some of the information we were told I just don’t believe.” Weeks later, he said: “Everybody we’d been able to talk to now has a lawyer, so there hasn’t been a lot of keeping in contact.”
Police started requesting search warrants for 1509 Swann Street the day after the stabbing. Cops guarded the door. FBI forensic experts gathered evidence, emptied bookcases, recorded computer hard drives, and generally took the house apart. They trucked away pieces of walls and staircases.
At the William & Mary homecoming that October, friends of Robert Wone organized a memorial. Many 13 Club members participated.
Joe Price and Victor Zaborsky were on campus to take part in the memorial, but the Wone family told friends they preferred that Price not attend so that the focus would be on honoring Robert. The two men stayed away.
Other than that tension, Price’s life seemed to be in order. He had continued to work at Arent Fox. He and Zaborsky and Ward moved around a bit but stayed together.
Kathy Wone’s life was falling apart.
She couldn’t stay alone in the Oakton townhouse. Her older brother stayed with her for a few weeks, but he had to return to Phoenix. She stayed with friends for the next seven months. Bills from the townhouse piled up. She didn’t care whether the bank foreclosed.
“My accomplishment of the day was getting out of bed, taking a shower, and making it to the breakfast table,” Kathy says. “The mere act of existing was almost unbearable. I was convinced I would never know happiness again.”
She sought a grief counselor.
“I wanted a Christian counselor,” Kathy says. “My faith in God and Jesus Christ has always been an anchor throughout my life. I needed to talk with someone who would really understand that, as I began the long process of working through all the confusion and pain caused by Robert’s death.”