Suspect in D.C. family deaths hunted in New York
Washington — Police and federal agents searched Thursday for a welder suspected in the slayings of a wealthy construction executive, his wife, their 10-year-old son and a housekeeper inside their Washington mansion last week.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said "just about every law enforcement officer across the country" is on the lookout for Daron Dylon Wint, 34, a native of Guyana and former Marine now wanted on charges of first-degree murder in the killings of his former employer, Savvas Savopoulos.
Investigators were questioning Wint's girlfriend in Brooklyn, but his whereabouts remained unclear, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Another housekeeper told the AP she believes that the family and their housekeeper were held captive for nearly a day before they were killed, citing an unusual voice mail she got from Savopoulos and a text message sent from the phone of his wife, Amy, 47, telling her not to come to the house.
Also slain before the house was set on fire was the couple's 10-year-old son, Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa. Figueroa usually left work around 3 p.m., which led the surviving housekeeper, Nelitza Gutierrez, to suspect that an intruder already had her under control before then on May 13.
"Right now it does not appear that this was a random crime," Lanier said.
The police chief did not discuss any possible motives and repeatedly declined to describe any evidence.
However, The Washington Post reported that Savopoulos's personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash at the home the morning of May 14 after a flurry of phone calls between Savopoulos, a bank, an accountant, the personal assistant and his company.
Records show Savopoulos made his last call, to his assistant, at 11:54 a.m, the Post reported, citing police documents and unidentified sources.
Savopoulos, 46, was the CEO of American Iron Works, which supplies major construction projects. The slayings inside his $4.5 million mansion terrorized Woodley Park, one of the capital's most affluent neighborhoods, where high fences and elaborate security systems protect properties and police are a constant presence.
The Savapoulos home is near Washington's National Cathedral and Vice President Joe Biden's official residence. Their two teenage daughters were away at boarding school during the slayings. Relatives have made few public comments and have not returned telephone calls from the AP.
Gutierrez worked for the family for 20 years, and was one of the last people to see Savopoulos alive.
She told the AP that she and Savopoulos spent May 13 cleaning up a martial arts studio he was opening in northern Virginia before his wife called around 5:30 p.m. She could hear his half of the conversation. He later said his wife told him to come home to watch their son because she was going out, Gutierrez said.
Later that night, sounding flustered, he left Gutierrez a voice mail saying Figueroa would stay with his sick wife overnight, that she shouldn't come the next day, and that Figueroa's phone was dead. "It doesn't make any sense. How come you don't have another phone — iPhones are all over," Gutierrez said. "He was kind of building stories."
By 1:30 p.m. the next day, the house was on fire. Firefighters were called, and found the bodies, with what authorities said was evidence that they had been slain before the fire was set. The executive's blue Porsche, also set on fire, was found in a parking lot in New Carrollton, Maryland, about 2 miles from an address listed for Wint in court records.
DNA analysis at a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lab linked Wint to the crime, a law enforcement official involved in the investigation told the AP on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to discuss the investigation publicly.
During the family's final hours, someone called Domino's from their house and ordered pizza. The Post reported that the DNA was found on a pizza crust. At a Domino's about 2 miles away, a worker told the AP that a pizza was delivered from there to the mansion that day, but directed other questions to a company spokesman, who did not respond.
U.S. Marshals and New York City police joined the search for Wint, who was spotted in Brooklyn Wednesday night.
"Even his family has made pleas for him to turn himself in," Lanier said. "It would be much easier if he would just turn himself in."
Wint moved from Guyana to the United States in 2000, when he was almost 20 years old, and joined the Marine Corps that same year. He later worked as a certified welder, and racked up a criminal record.
Wint was convicted of assaulting one girlfriend in Maryland in 2009, and pleaded guilty the next year to malicious destruction of property after he allegedly threatened to kill a woman and her infant daughter, breaking into her apartment, stealing a television and vandalizing her car.
"I'm going to come over there and kill you, your daughter and friends," Wint told that woman. "The defendant advised he was good with a knife and could kill them easily and was not afraid of the police," a detective wrote.
Also in 2010, Wint was arrested carrying a 2-foot-long machete and a BB pistol outside the American Iron Works headquarters, but weapons charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to possessing an open container of alcohol.
Attorney Robin Ficker said Wint didn't seem violent when he defended him in earlier cases.
"My impression of him — I remember him rather well — is that he wouldn't hurt a fly. He's a very nice person," Ficker said.
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