WASHINGTON – Authorities have arrested an ex-convict who was accused in the killings of a wealthy Washington family and their housekeeper.
Members of a fugitive task force arrested Daron Dylon Wint, 34, on Thursday around 11 p.m., about a week after authorities said the family was killed and their mansion set on fire. Wint has been charged with first-degree murder while armed, D.C. police and the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Investigators tracked Wint to New York City, where they barely missed him Wednesday night, Robert Fernandez, commander of the U.S. Marshal Service’s Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, told multiple news outlets.
Wint was tracked to the Howard Johnson Express Inn in College Park, Maryland, on Thursday, and when officers approached, they discovered Wint in a Chevrolet Cruze in the parking lot, Fernandez said. They tailed the car, which was following a box truck, to northeast Washington, where Wint and several others were taken into custody during a traffic stop, he said.
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Police have not detailed why Wint would want to kill 46-year-old Savvas Savopoulos; his 47-year-old wife, Amy; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa. Three of the four victims had been stabbed or bludgeoned before the fire.
Police said Thursday that Wint, a certified welder, worked for Savopoulos’ company, American Iron Works, in the past. Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, a construction-materials supplier based in Hyattsville, Maryland, that has been involved in major projects in downtown Washington.
Police said Thursday that they haven’t ruled out the possibility that other people were involved in the slayings, but no other suspects have been identified.
Wint was born and raised in Guyana and moved to the United States in 2000, when he was almost 20 years old, according to court records filed in Maryland. He joined the Marine Corps that same year and was discharged for medical reasons, the records show. Wint was at Parris Island for boot camp from July 24, 2001 to Sept 28, 2001, but never graduated from recruit training, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan said. Following his discharge, he worked as a certified welder, court records show.
The Savopouloses lived in a $4.5 million home in Woodley Park, a neighborhood where mansions are protected by fences and elaborate security systems and local and federal law enforcement officers are a constant presence, in part because Vice President Joe Biden’s official residence is nearby.
Text messages and voicemails from the Savopouloses to their confused and frightened household staff suggest something was amiss in the house many hours before the bodies were found. Their blue Porsche turned up in suburban Maryland hours after the slayings. It too had been 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.
During the family’s final hours, someone called Domino’s from their house and ordered pizza. The Washington 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.
Wint was convicted of assaulting one girlfriend in Maryland in 2009, and he 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, according to the records. “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.
A housekeeper who worked for the Savopoulos family for 20 years, Nelitza Gutierrez, told the AP that she believes the family and Figueroa 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, telling her not to come to the house.
Gutierrez said 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.”
The next morning, Gutierrez received a text message from Amy Savopoulos that read, in part, “I am making sure you are not coming today.” She called and texted back and got no response.
The Savopouloses had two teenage daughters who were away at boarding school at the time of the killings. Relatives of the victims have made few public statements and have not returned calls from the AP. Representatives of American Iron Works have repeatedly declined to comment.Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols .