She found the person she was looking for, began seeing her regularly in October, and still sees her. In November, she returned to work part-time at the American Health Lawyers Association.
“At first it was an exercise in physically showing up,” she says. “I got the sense that grief is so unpredictable, so dependent on the moment. I was careful about telling bosses what to expect. But work was one thing I never had to worry about. My boss said, ‘Your office will always be here. Don’t come back a moment too soon.’ ”
The friends she was staying with had three boys. In the midst of her grief, she would hear them doing everyday boy things: crashing toy trucks into walls, laughing over some TV show.
“I started to think things might be okay,” she says.
One evening, the friends invited a few people over for dinner. Everyone was seated at the table when one of the boys rushed up and asked, “Aunt Kathy, was Uncle Robert stabbed or shot?”
Guests and friends gasped. She felt relief.
“I was happy that a five-year-old was having a hard time understanding what had happened,” she says. “No child should have to know death, evil, tragedy like that. In his need to understand why Robert was not with us, I saw his innocence—that there was still good in the world.”
In the spring, she felt strong enough to move back to the house in Oakton. She adopted Buddy, a Shiba Inu dog.
“My grief is not as violent as it used to be,” she says. “I don’t break down in puddles of tears every hour like I used to. Grief is a quieter, more private experience now, a gentler emotion that is a tender-sweet reminder of what used to be and what will never be.”
News from the investigation was too quiet for Eric Holder.
Price, Zaborsky, and Ward made no public statements, but they cooperated with authorities through their attorneys. They provided DNA and fingerprints. In January 2007, they agreed to provide hair samples.
Neither prosecutors nor police had said a word publicly about a break in the case.
On August 6, 2007, a year after the murder, Holder summoned reporters to Covington & Burling. He and Kathy Wone had a few things to say. Kathy, her hair cut short, was seated at a long table when Holder arrived. He bent over, kissed her on the head, and took his seat in a room full of reporters and cameras.
Benjamin Razi, a Covington partner involved in the case from the start, introduced Kathy. She was nervous—her voice shook at first but became firmer.
“As we approached the one-year mark of Robert’s death last week,” she said, “several people asked how I was doing.” She thanked her church and friends and family.
“Slowly but surely, life has been coming back. I’m laughing again, and I’m enjoying the company of friends. I can listen to music, and this time I actually hear the notes. So I think overall I’ve done okay from having come through the darkest year of my life.”
After a pause, she asked police and the FBI to press her husband’s case. Then she spoke to her husband’s killer.
“While dealing with my own share of paralyzing sadness,” she said, “I realize that I also grieve deeply for the loss of your own life. Having a murder on your conscience is no small load to carry as you try to live, I imagine, as normal a life as possible. Confessing will be the hardest thing that you will ever do in your life. Our laws will impose severe consequences, but it will also be the most freeing thing that you can do for yourself. The secret like the one you are hiding from the world will only grow heavier with time.”
Jason Torchinsky and Eugene Chay, past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, spoke. Then Eric Holder rose and pointed to a large photograph of Robert Wone. He spoke for about ten minutes.
“As despicable as that crime was and is, as big a tragedy as that is, it is compounded by the fact that Robert’s killer has not been brought to justice,” he said. “Washington, DC, is a great city, and in this case our city has not lived up to its greatness—in fact, none of us has.”
Holder talked about Robert and Kathy. Then he spoke to Joe Price and his housemates.
“For those in 1509 Swann Street, where Robert was killed,” Holder said, “you need to truly ask yourselves—truly, truly ask yourselves—have I provided the police with all the information that might be relevant to the investigation of this crime? Only you, your conscience, and your God know the answer to that question, but that is the question you must ask yourselves if you care about Robert, if you truly care about his family, if you care about Kathy—come forward and share all of the information that you have.”
No one came forward.
On October 27, 2008, prosecutors charged Dylan Ward with obstruction of justice. The affidavit in support of his arrest warrant suggested that Robert Wone had been injected with a paralytic drug, sexually assaulted, smothered, and then stabbed. It dismissed the theory that an intruder had killed Wone.
There was no way, it said, that an intruder could have scaled the rear security fence, happened upon the unlocked back door, walked through a house replete with valuable electronic devices, scaled the steps, passed the door to Ward’s room, entered the guest room, stabbed Wone, cleaned up the scene, and retraced his steps—in less than an hour.
Forensic experts had concluded that the knife beside the bed was not the murder weapon. It was covered with Wone’s blood, but the fibers on the knife weren’t from the gray T-shirt Wone wore but from a towel by the bed, which suggested the towel had been used to coat it with Wone’s blood. It was also too long to have been the murder weapon.
The actual weapon, police said, was consistent with a knife missing from a cutlery set in Dylan Ward’s room.
When deputy medical examiner Lois Goslinoski performed the autopsy, she found several needle marks, according to the affidavit: “There were multiple needle puncture marks on the left side of his neck, three needle puncture marks present in the center of his chest, two needle punctures to the upper portion of his right foot, and one needle puncture mark on the back of his left hand.”