DC Lawyer, 34, Identified as Man Found Dead in Apparent Stranger’s Car

The man found dead inside a stranger's car parked near the U Street nightlife area has been identified as a 34-year-old lawyer.

Daniel Potucek was found by police Saturday morning and declared dead shortly after. His mother told News4 her son's wallet, debit card, house keys and phone were gone — and he had no identification.

"I've been told that somebody put him in that car," Potucek's mother, Lorinda Potucek, said. She said she was told the car door had been unlocked.

Potucek lived in D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood and worked as a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration. He previously attended Georgetown Preparatory School, Duke University and Harvard Law. He spoke seven languages. His mom said he often went to bars in the neighborhood where his body was found.

Lorinda Potucek told News4 she has many questions about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her son's death. 

"We all think, with beyond a reasonable doubt, that there's more to this story," Lorinda Potucek said. "Daniel always has made it home."

Police were called about 7:40 a.m. Saturday and found a man showing no signs of life in the front passenger seat of a parked car. 

One woman, who was nearby when police arrived and wished to remain anonymous when speaking to News4, described a disturbing scene: "I got here at 8 o'clock in the morning and the police just found the guy in the car. And they opened the car up and they said he fell out. And then they put the white sheet on him."

Shortly after police arrived, the man was declared dead. Police haven't released a cause of death but later identified him as Potucek.

Lorinda Potucek said she believes her son was in the car for hours before his body was found.

The car belonged to D.C. resident Alexander MacLennan, who parked his car near the intersection of 8th and U streets NW on Friday evening before heading to a restaurant. After having a few drinks with his partner, MacLennan told News4 he decided to go home and return for his car in the morning.

But overnight, the car became a death scene investigated by homicide detectives.

MacLennan said he returned on Saturday but couldn't access the street because police had it blocked off. MacLennan says he left to run a few errands before returning.

But his car wasn't there.

"We just assumed it was stolen and having seen the police there earlier in the day, I just thought maybe… I don't know… something got smashed," he told News4.

He says he called police to report the vehicle stolen. A detective returned the call, asked a few questions and then broke the news: His car was part of a death investigation.

MacLennan said he didn't know Potucek and isn't sure how he got into the car.

"It's freaky," MacLennan said. "We were definitely freaked out."

MacLennan says he still hasn't gotten his car back.

"It's kind of a little creepy to know someone died in the front seat," he said. "They haven't told us a lot, but I guess I'll see it when I get it back."

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