Who Killed Robert Wone? Inside The Unsolved Mystery Of His Brutal Murder

Published March 13, 2024
Updated March 14, 2024

On August 2, 2006, a lawyer named Robert Wone was assaulted and murdered while staying with friends in Washington, D.C. — and while his friends were charged with tampering with the crime scene, his killer has never been caught.

Robert Wone

Wikimedia CommonsRobert Wone’s murder is still unsolved to this day.

On the night of Aug. 2, 2006, Robert Wone was stabbed in the chest while he was spending the night with some friends in Washington, D.C. When first responders arrived, they found the 32-year-old lawyer lying flat on his back on the guest room sofa bed, dead.

Police soon determined that Wone had been drugged and sexually assaulted before his brutal murder. Strangely, there were no signs of a struggle. In fact, there was barely even any blood in the room.

The three men who lived in the house claimed not to have seen any part of the attack, insisting that an intruder must have broken in and killed Wone. However, it soon became clear that someone had tried to clean up the crime scene. And while Wone’s friends were accused of lying to investigators, tampering with the scene, delaying reporting the crime, and planting evidence, no one has ever been charged with the murder.

Robert Wone’s Life Before His Tragic End

Robert Wone was born in New York City in 1974. Raised in Brooklyn, he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from William & Mary in 1996 before pursuing a law degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wone was described by his loved ones as thoughtful, reliable, and genuine — the kind of person who kept a spreadsheet of all of his friends’ birthdays and put change into expired parking meters when he walked past them.

“He kept tabs on his friends,” his college friend Tara Ragone told the Washingtonian in 2010. “He never looked for recognition. He was always the man behind the curtain, making magic. He also had a silly side.”

After graduating cum laude in 1999, Wone passed the New York state bar and clerked for a year for a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Robert And Kathy Wone

Wone FamilyRobert Wone and his wife, Kathy.

In 2000, Wone joined Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., specializing in employment law and commercial real estate. Two years later, he met his wife Katherine “Kathy” Ellen Yu, an attorney from Illinois, at a conference in Philadelphia.

Robert and Kathy Wone married in June 2003 and moved to Oakton, Virginia. By 2006, Robert had accepted a position as the general counsel for a D.C.-based nonprofit called Radio Free Asia. In his spare time, he actively participated in the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and was set to be sworn in as the group’s president.

In the summer of 2006, Wone started commuting into D.C. for his job. Fatefully, it was this long commute that would lead him to spend a night with friends at 1509 Swann Street that August.

The Night Of The Murder

Joseph Price, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward lived together in a row house on Swan Street in Washington, D.C. The three men were in polyamorous relationship, often referring to themselves as a family.

Robert Wone had known Price in college, where the older Price had acted as somewhat of a mentor to him, and had hung out with the other men before. Their house was also just a mile away from Wone’s office. So when work ran late on the night of Aug. 2, 2006, Wone decided to crash at his friends’ house rather than make the commute back to Oakton.

Wone arrived at the house around 10:30 p.m. After that, it’s impossible to know what really happened.

His friends would later claim Wone took a shower and went to bed. Sometime between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m., a neighbor reported hearing a scream coming from the home.

At 11:49 p.m. a frantic Zaborsky called 911 and told the operator that someone in the house had been stabbed.

“We had someone… in our house, evidently, and they stabbed somebody,” Zaborsky told the 911 operator.

Joe Price

PeacockJoseph Price and Robert Wone were old college friends.

Paramedics arrived at the house at 11:54 p.m. to find Robert Wone unresponsive, lying on a pullout couch with three stabs in his chest and abdomen. Strangely, there was very little blood on Wone’s body or anywhere else in the house.

Wone was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m.

The paramedics would later report that his friends had seemed suspiciously calm at the scene. Joseph Price was wearing briefs when the paramedics arrived; Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward appeared to be freshly showered and were wearing white bathrobes.

The three men claimed an intruder had broken into the house and killed Wone. They insisted they saw nothing of the attack. But the police began to suspect that the roommates had something to do with Wone’s death — or at the very least, knew who was responsible.

The Investigation Into Who Killed Robert Wone

The police discovered a bloody knife on a nightstand next to the sofa. An autopsy also found that there was an attempted suffocation on the victim.

But strangely, Robert Wone had no defensive wounds on his hands or arms. It was clear he had not resisted while being stabbed, indicating that he was most likely unconscious while he was attacked.

Investigators found multiple needle puncture marks on Wone’s body, suggesting that someone may have tried to inject him with drugs or a sedative before he was killed.

A medical examiner also found evidence that Wone had been sexually assaulted before his death — and Wone’s own semen was found around his genitals and inside his rectum. However, the three men all denied having had any sort of sexual relationship with Wone, who by all accounts seemed like a happily married man.

Robert Wone Crime Scene

PeacockFirst responders found an unconscious Robert Wone on the second floor sofa bed with three stab wounds to the chest and abdomen.

When questioned by police, all three roommates told the same story. They said that after they went to bed in their own rooms, the door alarm chimed as if an intruder had entered the home. Then, Zaborsky claimed, he heard a scream. When the roommates went to check on Wone, they found him dead.

However, an intruder would have had to climb an eight-foot fence in the backyard, walk up the steps to the second floor, pass by Ward’s bedroom, enter Wone’s room, inject drugs into his body, sexually assault him, attempt to suffocate him, and finally stab him three times with a knife — all without the house’s residents hearing anything.

If there was an intruder, they left without taking anything, including Wone’s wallet, cellphone, and watch. There was no sign of forced entry in the home.

A Possible Clean-Up

Paramedics later reported that the crime scene seemed “very wrong.” It appeared as though Robert Wone had been killed in another location and placed on the bed, which was still neatly made underneath his body. It also looked like someone had wiped the blood off of his abdomen.

According to The Guardian, paramedics reported that it was as if Wone had been “stabbed, showered, redressed, and placed in the bed” by his assailant.

Police brought in a cadaver dog to search the scene. The dog detected blood on the lint trap of the dryer and on a patio drain — leading investigators to suspect that someone had tried to wash away the evidence.

Crime Scene

Google MapsRobert Wone was fatally stabbed while staying overnight at a row house on Swann Street in Washington’s Dupont Circle.

What’s more, the knife discovered at the scene did not match the size and shape of Wone’s wounds. It was also determined to contain fibers that matched a towel found near Wone’s bed after the murder, leading investigators to believe that someone had used the towel to wipe Wone’s blood onto the knife. Police soon determined that this knife was not the murder weapon.

Meanwhile, another knife appeared to be missing from a cutlery set in Ward’s room. Police determined that this knife was a closer match to Wone’s injuries than the one found near his body. However, Ward’s missing knife has never been found.

Who Killed Robert Wone?

The police began to focus their investigation on the three roommates. Not only did the intruder theory seem implausible, but the timeline of the men’s response to the murder seemed suspicious.

The scream that was heard by the neighbor took place between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m. — but Zaborsky didn’t call for help until 11:49 p.m. Whether it was Wone who screamed, or one of the men upon discovering him, the identity didn’t matter; the scream suggested something terrible had happened long before the 911 call was made.

This delay raised the question: Did the men take time to get their stories straight and clean up the crime scene before involving law enforcement?

In the fall of 2008, Dylan Ward, Joseph Price, and Victor Zaborsky were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to tamper with Robert Wone’s crime scene. Prosecutors alleged they lied to investigators, tampered with the evidence, planted evidence, and delayed reporting the murder.

However, after a bench trial, a judge found the three men not guilty. The judge believed the men knew who killed Wone, but wasn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of their guilt on the charges.

Shortly after the men were acquitted, Robert Wone’s widow, Kathy, filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against them. The case was settled out of court in 2011.

To this day, no one has ever been charged with Robert Wone’s murder — meaning his killer is likely still out there somewhere.

After reading about Robert Wone, discover the unsolved murder of Ellen Greenberg, the teacher who was stabbed 20 times in her apartment. Then, read about Paula Sladewski, an aspiring Playboy model who was found burned in a Miami dumpster.

Rivy Lyon
True crime expert Rivy Lyon holds a Bachelor's degree in criminology, psychology, and sociology. A former private investigator, she has also worked with CrimeStoppers, the Innocence Project, and disaster response agencies across the U.S. She transitioned into investigative journalism in 2020, focusing primarily on unsolved homicides and missing persons.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.