Thursday, May 21, 2015
Suspect in 4 D.C. killings identified after DNA is found on pizza
D.C. police said late Wednesday that they have identified a suspect in the killings of Savvas Savopoulos, his wife, young son and housekeeper, who authorities believe were held captive in the family’s Northwest Washington home.
Police said they had obtained a warrant for the arrest of Daron Dylon Wint, who they said is 34 and is from Maryland. They said they do not know his whereabouts.
The stunning break in the case came after police matched Wint to DNA found on the crust of a Domino’s pizza that had been ordered to the house the night of May 13, as the victims were being held, according to three law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation.
The next morning, Savvas Savopoulos’s personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash at the home, according to the officials and police documents.
Hours later, the multimillion-dollar house was on fire, and the four occupants were dead. When firefighters arrived that afternoon, the cash was gone, as was a blue Porsche owned by the family. The vehicle was found later that day, torched in a church parking lot in Prince George’s County.
Information about the money drop adds a perplexing new dimension to a case that has riveted Upper Northwest Washington as well as the District’s business and society circles with which the couple had been intimately involved. Savvas Savopoulos, 46; Amy Savopoulos, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57, all were killed.
Law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said detectives think that the family and housekeeper had been held overnight in the home near the vice president’s mansion and that at one point they may have been bound.
Authorities said they are investigating whether there are any links to Savvas Savopoulos’s business or personal life. Savopoulos owned or was involved in several businesses.
Police documents, obtained by The Washington Post, show that the assistant had been helping Savopoulos, who was rushing to complete a martial arts studio in Chantilly, Va. It was unclear whether the assistant made contact with anyone inside the house when he delivered the money. Police documents show that he was at a hardware store near the Chantilly studio in western Fairfax County from 11:30 a.m. to noon May 14 and was still in Virginia when 911 calls came later that afternoon about the fire 30 miles away in the District. D.C. police have not disclosed whether they know of a motive for the killings. But a timeline of Savvas Savopoulos’s movements is beginning to emerge from the police documents.
The documents show a flurry of phone calls among Savvas Savopoulos, a bank, an accountant, the personal assistant, a construction company executive and Savopoulos’s American Iron Works company in the hours before the fire. The calls started shortly after 7 a.m. May 14 and ended just before noon. The fire was reported at 1:15 p.m.
The assistant, who did not return messages left on his cellphone Wednesday, tried to call Savvas Savopoulos about 1:40 p.m. but got no answer, the police documents show. Savvas Savopoulos had called the assistant at 11:54 a.m. — the last incoming or outgoing call he made or answered before the fire.
The four victims were found on the second floor of the Savopoulos home in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW. Police have said little about how they were killed, other than that three had wounds consistent with blunt force or a sharp object. Authorities also have said the fire was set.
Savvas Savopoulos was the president and chief executive of American Iron Works, which supplies metal to large building projects across the region. He and his wife were active in Washington social circles and with charitable and political fundraising. Their two teenage daughters were away in boarding school at the time of the killings.
The funeral for the three Savopoulos family members is June 1 at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Northwest Washington. Figueroa’s body will beflown to her native El Salvador for burial.
Authorities have been trying to determine when the family and housekeeper were last safe and when they encountered the killer or killers.
One longtime American Iron Works employee told police that he last saw Savvas Savopoulos at the Chantilly studio about 6 p.m. May 13, according to police documents. That employee told investigators that workers had been rushing to complete the martial arts studio, which had a grand opening planned for May 15. Savopoulos appeared on several Internet boards as a martial arts hobbyist and was involved in some exclusive clubs for the sport. A second housekeeper, Nelitza Gutierrez, has reported a strange series of voice mails and text messages from Savvas and Amy Savopoulos beginning the night of May 13. Gutierrez, who had worked for the family for 20 years, said in an interview that the messages left her with the impression that something was amiss with her employers.
She said that on May 13, Savvas Savopoulos had asked her not to come to the D.C. home the next day — the day of the killings — even though she normally worked there on Thursdays. Instead, he told Gutierrez that he preferred her help the following day with the grand opening in Chantilly.
Gutierrez said Savvas Savopoulos left her a voice mail on May 13, saying that Figueroa, the housekeeper who was killed, planned to stay overnight at the family’s home, which she described as unusual. He said in the message that Amy Savopoulos was ill, that Philip was recovering from a concussion and that the family needed Figueroa’s help. Savvas Savopoulos asked Gutierrez to let Figueroa’s family know not to expect her.
Gutierrez said she didn’t hear the voice mail until the morning of May 14. She called Amy Savopoulos and got no answer. Just before 10 a.m., Gutierrez said, she got a text message from Amy Savopoulos: “I am making sure you do not come today.”
Gutierrez said that she knew nothing about the money that was dropped off May 14 and that she had never seen the assistant or anyone else drop off cash to the Savopoulos home in the 20 years she had worked there.
On May 15, the day after the killings, the personal assistant called the veteran American Iron Works employee’s cellphone “and was crying,” according to the police documents. The assistant “stated that he had dropped off a package” at the Savopoulos house on May 14, on his way to Chantilly, the documents say.
Little could be learned about Wint late Wednesday, and it was unclear whether he had any previous connection to the Savopoulos family. Authorities offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to his arrest and conviction, and asked that anyone with information about the case call police at 202-727-9099.
Alice Crites, Sari Horwitz, Antonio Olivo and Cheryl W. Thompson contributed to this report.