Seth Rich is the DNC staffer who was shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt in Bloomingdale, Washington D.C. on July 10, 2016. When I was an NYPD detective, I was first assigned to conduct robbery investigations for a couple of years and I investigated hundreds of them.
I conducted massive internet searches to obtain information on this case and was amazed on how much was not on the net almost a year later. I found many theories and reports, but they did not seem credible to me. Let me make this clear, there is no evidence to support any of the conspiracy theories that are floating around out in the media. Detectives have to follow the evidence and should not listen to any theory unless there is some evidence to warrant investigation. It was also reported that Rich's watchband was torn, and two things could have happened here: the perps tried to take his watch unsuccessfully or it was broken during the struggle. From the first time I read about this case my gut just said attempted robbery/homicide, however, there was one possible lead that had to be cleared up putting doubt in my mind. Here are some issues I have with this case.
It was reported that Rich was shot in the back twice and his cash, wallet, cell phone and watch were not taken! It was reported that he had marks on his hands, knees and face. This is usually consistent with him defending himself against the robber. Was Rich shot in the back as he was running away? I have seen many robberies where nothing was taken because either the victim fought back and/or the shooter gets spooked after they shoot the victim. If this was an assassination, a hired killer would not have shot Rich in the back, most likely a head shot, and Rich would have never seen it coming. However, if it was an assassination made to look like a robbery more than likely something would have been taken unless the shooter was spooked or just screwed up the entire hit. Now, the assassination theories were introduced by some people without any real evidence. So unless there is any real evidence uncovered you have to go with the attempt robbery, however, something I found did spark my interest.
D.C. Police said that there were 20 armed robberies in that area up to July 2016. If so, are they pattern robberies and was someone shot and the ballistics checked to see if they match the ones they pulled from Rich? I’m sure D.C. Cops checked ballistics and may have come up with nothing. Let’s say that this robbery was committed by typical street thugs, I know from experience, they can’t keep their mouths shut and with what’s been reported as a large reward, why hasn’t anyone turned them in for the last year? Frequently, high-profile cases like this that are perpetrated by thugs are solved on tips and large rewards pretty quickly when there is no video or witnesses. My suggestion is to get the news of this large reward out and flood TV, newspapers, and crime-stoppers in D.C. and surrounding areas to see if any good leads are developed.
Now there is a theory that Rich was murdered because he released information to WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks has set a reward of $20,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer. Julian Assange was interviewed, and he gave the impression that Rich was one of his leakers but didn’t come out and say it directly. So this has got to be driving detectives crazy, and they now have to look at Rich's computer to see if he was indeed the leaker. This statement by Assange has to be investigated and is the only thing that I have seen that fuels the conspiracy theory. This question can be answered quickly so why hasn’t this been either confirmed or denied by D.C. Police? It’s been almost a year, has that computer query been conducted and if not, why not? This would put the conspiracy theory to rest, and police can focus on the murder. The only reason I can see for this information not to be revealed is that something was found on the computer and turned over to the FBI.
It was reported that Rich was conscious when police arrived on the scene, did he make a statement to the police, EMS, or those who treated him in the hospital?
All these theories that come out regarding a crime by less than amateur detectives creates nothing but chaos and opens a new can of worms for detectives, especially if politics is injected into the equation. So you ask what am I thinking, I do not want to add to the conspiracy theories, but I believe Rich's computer should answer the main question about whether or not Rich leaked DNC information to WikiLeaks and until we know the answer to that question, we will be flooded by even more theories. If Julian Assange's statement turns out to be false then what we have here is another tragic robbery/homicide on the books for D.C. homicide detectives.
Harry Houck is a CNN law enforcement analyst, retired NYPD Detective First Grade, and USMC veteran. Follow him on Twitter, @HarryJHouck, or Facebook. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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