Anyone who ever hoped for justice in the baffling 2006 murder case of late D.C. attorney Robert Wone should prepare to be outraged all over again by the Peacock original two-part documentary Who Killed Robert Wone? (★★★★☆).
It’s not that this well-assembled true crime chronicle, directed by Jared P. Scott, fumbles its presentation of the facts revisiting Wone’s brutal stabbing death inside a Logan Circle rowhouse.
What’s disturbing is the mere fact that the case remains unsolved, despite the presence inside the house that night of three men — Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward — who most certainly know more about the circumstances of Wone’s murder than they have ever revealed to the authorities, or to Robert’s grieving widow, Katherine.
As a Metro Police Department detective puts it in the film, you’ve got four people in the house, one person dead, and three others all saying, “It’s not me.” Then again, more than one person interviewed here blames the MPD for botching the case, blinded by anti-gay bias, because the rowhouse’s three residents, Joe, Victor, and Dylan, all were successful fixtures of D.C.’s LGBTQ community who happened to be involved in a polyamorous relationship.
All three, to varying degrees, knew and were trusted by Robert Wone, whom everyone interviewed insists was straight and not curious.
Glenn Kirschner, then chief of homicide in the U.S. Attorney’s office for D.C., clearly had to wonder if perhaps the victim was not so straight, and if therein lay some crucial evidence of the crime. Frankly, any reasonably worldly viewer who’s dealt with a DL or closeted guy would have their suspicions, too.
Kirschner, appearing still haunted by the case — a common condition of the friends, loved ones, paramedics, police detectives, and everyone involved who appears onscreen — admits that he and his investigators also made mistakes that might have led to the murder remaining unsolved.
Lingering questions abound, but, unquestionably, Robert Wone’s killer or killers so far have yet to be held accountable for the crime.
Joe, Victor, and Dylan eventually were tried, not for murder but for obstructing justice. None of the three participated in this film, but, with access to their police interrogation recordings and some evidence that was ruled inadmissible at trial — like the inventory of Dylan and Joe’s extensive collection of BDSM gear — the filmmakers reconstruct the scene of the crime in graphic, salacious detail.
Led by commentary from Kirschner, and his defense attorney nemesis Bernie Grimm, who represented Joe Price at trial, the film also replays the uphill battle to solve this case.
As the camera roves around a scale model of the rowhouse at 1509 Swann Street, the film probes all the dead ends and false leads. Investigators found definitive proof that Robert Wone either was sexually assaulted or involved in some consensual sex act that night, maybe even alone, but, frustratingly, could not piece together the whole puzzling story.
Who Killed Robert Wone? does an admirable job stitching together the frayed tapestry of players and events, though there’s no getting around that gaping hole at the center: who did it?
The sinister nature of this crime and alleged cover-up cast a macabre atmosphere even for this sort of true crime fare, but the documentary does offer hope that someday, somehow, a dam might break, the truth will be revealed, and Robert Wone’s family will be granted the justice they’ve long been denied.
Who Killed Robert Wone? is available for streaming on Peacock. Visit www.peacocktv.com.
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