D.C. authorities: Ex-con had help in slaying of rich D.C. family
Washington — Authorities revealed Friday that more than one person must have been responsible for the slayings of four people inside a Washington family’s mansion last week.
A fugitive task force arrested Daron Dylon Wint Thursday night, and took five people who were with him into custody. Wint, is the only person currently charged with the murder of Savvas Savopoulos; his wife Amy; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and their housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa.
“The crimes described in this affidavit required the presence and assistance of more than one person,” said a court document made public Friday.
The document also confirms that thousands of dollars were delivered to the mansion before it was set on fire. Firefighters found all four bodies inside; three of them had been stabbed or bludgeoned.
U.S. marshals and police tracked Wint to New York and back before they spotted him late Thursday night in the parking lot of a Howard Johnson Express Inn in College Park, Maryland. Dozens of officers then quietly tailed a car and truck into the nation’s capital and then swarmed the vehicles so quickly that the group surrendered without a fight.
“We had overwhelming numbers and force,” Robert Fernandez, commander of the U.S. Marshal Service’s Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, told The Associated Press on Friday. “They completely submitted immediately.”
The money suggests why Wint, a 34-year-old welder who once worked for Savopoulos’ American Iron Works company, might have wanted to hold the family captive and then kill them. He was held pending an appearance in D.C. Superior Court Friday afternoon.
Investigators narrowly missed Wint in New York’s Brooklyn borough Wednesday night.
“We believe he saw himself on the news and just took off,” Fernandez said.
Investigators tracked Wint to the motel in Maryland, and then quietly followed the car and truck as a helicopter tracked them from above. Wint ultimately surrendered without a fight and seemed “stoic” as he, two other men and three women were taken into custody, Fernandez said.
“I don’t think they knew we were tailing them until the moment we swarmed in on them,” said Fernandez.
The truck belongs to Amerit Fleet Solutions, and is basically a rolling garage, equipped to service and repair vehicles away from any fixed location. Spokeswoman Karen Vinton said the California-based company is aware that the truck was involved, and is cooperating with authorities.
Fernandez said he noticed a big wad of cash in the truck, but didn’t know how much was there. It was not clear whether that money might have been connected to the Savopoulos family. Fernandez said he did not know whether the group was carrying any weapons before local police took them into custody.
American Iron Works is a construction industry supplier based in Hyattsville, Maryland. The Savopouloses lived in a $4.5 million home in Woodley Park, where mansions are protected by fences and security systems and law enforcement is a constant presence, in part because Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence is nearby.
The family’s two teenage daughters were away at boarding school at the time. On Friday, the family thanked law enforcement and firefighters, and said they wouldn’t give interviews. “Our family, and Vera’s family, have suffered unimaginable loss, and we ask for the time and space to grieve privately,” the statement says.
Messages from the couple in the hours before their slayings confused and frightened another housekeeper and the slain housekeeper’s husband, who said later they felt something was amiss inside the mansion. The executive’s Porsche was later found in suburban Maryland, also set on fire.
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 Associated Press on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to discuss the investigation publicly.
Wint has a record of violent offenses.
He was arrested once in 2006 and twice in 2007 for assault in Oswego County, N.Y., Undersheriff Gene Sullivan said. He was released in July 2008 after serving a 10-month sentence, and then convicted again of assaulting a girlfriend in Maryland in 2009. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property after he allegedly broke into a woman’s apartment, stole a television, vandalized her car and threatened to kill her infant daughter.
“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. “He’s a very nice person,” Ficker said.
Contributors include Alex Brandon, Sarah Brumfield and Jessica Gresko in Washington, Meredith Somers in Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Colleen Long in New York City and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York. —
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This story has been corrected to show that two other men and three women were detained along with Wint.
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