DNA in Torched Car Matched Suspect in D.C. Mansion Slayings: Testimony

DNA found on a construction vest inside the burned-out car of a slain D.C. family matches that of the man charged in their deaths, a detective testified during a preliminary hearing Monday. 

Daron Wint is charged in the deaths of 46-year-old Savvas Savopoulos; his wife, Amy; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and a housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa.

Police say Wint, 34, held the four victims captive for roughly 18 hours on May 13 and 14 inside their multi-million-dollar D.C. mansion. Wint is accused of being paid a $40,000 ransom, then killing the family and Figueroa before setting the house on fire.

During Monday's hearing, the lead detective on the case testified that Savvas Savopoulos and Figueroa were strangled to death, Amy Savopoulos was stabbed to death, and Philip was burned to death, Pat Collins reported. There is evidence they were tied and possibly tortured, and the weapons included a baseball bat, Samurai swords and an unknown sharp object, police said.

The family’s 2008 blue Porsche was later found torched in the parking lot of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in New Carrollton, Maryland, about 13 miles from the Savopoulos home. According to the detective, Wint's DNA was found on a construction vest inside the car. 

The detective also revealed that $30,000 of the $40,000 ransom has been accounted for. Police found $10,000 in money orders inside the vehicle Wint was in prior to his arrest. Cash and money orders worth $20,000 were also found inside a panel truck that was accompanying Wint. 

Abigail Savopoulos, one of the couple's two surviving daughters, attended the preliminary hearing Monday.


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Abigail and her sister were away at boarding school at the time of the murders. She sat in the front row of the courtroom Monday, taking notes and rubbing a stone between her fingers from time to time. 

Wint was identified as a suspect through DNA found on a Domino's pizza crust found at the crime scene. But he had already fled the D.C. area, authorities say. Investigators tracked him to Brooklyn, New York, where they barely missed him. Sources say Wint paid someone in cash to drive him from Brooklyn back to Maryland.

Police arrested him May 21 after finding him riding in a two-vehicle caravan in Northeast D.C. Authorities say they found cash, cellphones and knives in the vehicles.

Savvas Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, a construction-materials supplier that had played a role in rebuilding the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks. Wint once worked for Savopoulous' company as a welder.

Police have said in charging documents they believe Wint had help from others holding the Savopouloses captive, but no other suspects have been identified.

The murders, in one of D.C.'s wealthiest neighborhoods, stunned the District. The Savopolos family was well-known there and in the community of their church, Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Savvas gave to charities for children's health; Amy was known as a go-to volunteer and for get-togethers she hosted for the neighborhood.

As stunning as the setting -- blocks from the National Cathedral, on a street lined with privacy fences and hidden cameras -- are the details that have emerged about the attacks.

Police who investigated the scene said in court filings that Philip was found inside a bedroom, which was burned so badly that it was impossible to identify the boy. Police also found a bloody baseball bat at the scene.

Then there is the amount of time that the family may have been held, which can be traced through phone calls and texts from the Savopolos' and their housekeepers. 

A source close to the family detailed a call from Amy to Savvas on May 13, asking Savvas to come home. Police believe Amy, Philip and Figueroa were already being held at that time. 

Hours later investigators believe Wint forced Savvas to make a call to another housekeeper, known as Nelly, to make sure she would not come to the house that day.

On a voicemail, Savvas is heard telling Nelly to stay home because Amy is home sick, Vera is staying with her and the couple is "going through some stuff with Philip." He asks that Nelly send a text message to confirm the voicemail was received.

On the morning of May 14, a final text message was sent to Nelly from Amy's phone. “I am making sure you do not come today," the message said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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