WASHINGTON – Responding to claims that Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser directed the Metropolitan Police Department to stop investigating the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, the mayor’s office insisted to WND that Rich was killed in an attempted robbery and police are committed to bring closure to his case.
“This is a robbery that ended tragically. Any homicide in the District of Columbia gets the full attention of the Metropolitan Police Department,” Bowser’s deputy press secretary, Susana Castillo, told WND in statement Friday. “In fact, MPD has a cold case unit that focuses on solving homicides in D.C. no matter how old they are.”
While Castillo maintains that Bowser’s office “will continue to work with the Rich family to bring closure to this case as MPD does with all homicide cases,” private investigators have told WND they are certain Bowser has ordered a halt to the investigation.
Jack Burkman, the head of the private, Washington, D.C.-based Profiling Project investigative team, claimed to WND on Wednesday that D.C. police officials have colluded with the mayor to suspended the investigation.
While police initially cooperated with his team of private investigators, now they refuse to cooperate with any parties involved and are withholding key evidence from the public and obstructing the investigation for political purposes, Burkman alleges.
“I very strongly believe that the D.C. police and the D.C. mayor, for her own political reasons, want this ended,” he said. “This is going to become an issue in the mayor’s race, and this is really going to hurt her politics. This is a real black eye. This is becoming a real big thing – it’s on its way to becoming an O.J., and it could derail the mayor’s re-election.”
Burkman, a Republican lobbyist who offered a $105,000 reward of his personal money for information leading to the arrest of Rich’s killers, says the only surveillance video police released of the shooting proves it wasn’t motivated by a robbery.
“We’ve done investigations that really prove this was not a robbery,” Burkman said. “I took one look at that video, and I knew that the police story that this was a robbery gone awry was nonsense. I mean, my God, he was shot twice in the back and nothing was taken. The police hypothesis is just ridiculous. It’s beyond silly.”
The Rich family is also doubtful Rich, whose body was found with his wallet, credit cards and other valuables, was murdered during a robbery.
“If it was a robbery – it failed because he still has his watch, he still has his money, he still has his credit cards, still had his phone – so it was a wasted effort except we lost a life,” Joel Rich, Seth’s father, acknowledged days after his son was killed.
Wheeler, who was hired by Rich’s parents in March to find their son’s killer, strongly suspects Rich’s death is linked to his work at the DNC and explained why there is no evidence to support the police’s assertion he was murdered during a “botched” robbery.
“I’ve been hitting the ground out there talking with people – typical things we do in a homicide investigation. I haven’t found anything to support the theory that this was a street robbery,” he told WND last week.
The fact that not a single person has come forward with information about Rich’s murder, despite the MPD offering a $25,000 reward in addition to Burkman’s offer of $105,000, “is suspect in itself” and a good reason to investigate other motives, Wheeler said.
“It is highly unusual because, in that particular area, if you offer $10,000, you are going to get five people that are going to come forward,” he said. “For $1,000, they will tell you something and you can remain anonymous, too – sure they’re going to come forward. [But in this case] Nothing. Not one person has come forward.”
Wheeler claims officers of the Metropolitan Police Department have conspicuously responded to his inquiries about Rich’s murder with ominous “blank stares.”
“It’s a blank stare – it’s scary,” he said. “I’m getting nothing from police, just nothing.”
After months of investigating Rich’s murder, the Rich family revealed to the veteran homicide detective on May 15 that former DNC Chair and CNN contributor Donna Brazille contacted the police department after he inquired with homicide detectives for information on Rich’s case.
Wheeler has been incessantly repudiated by Brad Bauman – the Rich family’s spokesman, who has been allegedly “assigned” by the Democratic National Committee to represent the family – for not ruling out the possibility that Rich’s death may be related to DNC emails turned over to WikiLeaks.
“It’s sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda,” Bauman, a professional Democratic crisis public-relations consultant told WND. “I think there is a special place in hell for people like that.”
Burkman also claims the Rich family spokesman, who denies the DNC hired him to represent the family, has maliciously attacked his character and said he is not going to stand for it.
“Bauman is attacking me, attacking me, attacking me,” Burkman said. “If he doesn’t stop, we’re going to serve him with a cease-and-desist letter or consider a suit for slander and defamation, because he just won’t stop. There’s no reason for him to be calling me names. That’s not his job. He’s a spokesman for the family – we’re just trying to investigate. He wants to make this partisan.”
The Metropolitan Police Department officials, who have maintained throughout the 10 months that Rich was killed during a robbery, are disputing Burkman’s and Wheeler’s allegations.
“MPD does not entertain conspiracy theories and does not engage with conspiracy theorists,” the statement from MPD’s Karimah Bilal said Thursday. “If you are in possession of information that you believe to be relevant to this or any case, please let us know the details of such information such that it can help, rather than hinder, our investigation.”
WND reported also on Thursday CNN attacked a Republican lawmaker who called for a federal investigation of the unsolved murder of Rich and any possible role he may have had in the leaking of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 election.
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told CNN Wednesday: “My fear is our constant focusing on the Russians is deflecting away from some other things that we need to be investigating. There’s still some question as to whether the intrusion of the DNC server was an insider job or whether or not it was the Russians.”
CNN reporters quickly cut off the congressman.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the ‘insider job’ – what are you referring to here?” asked CNN’s John Berman.
“There’s stuff circulating on the Internet. My question is, why,” the congressman continued, but he was again cut off by Berman.
“What’s circulating on the Internet that you think is worthy of a congressional investigation?” Berman demanded. “Because the D.C. police are investigating this, and so far they haven’t said there’s anything there” to suggest any DNC-link to Rich’s murder.
The fourth-term congressman noted the DNC denied the FBI’s “multiple requests” to examine the hacked computers. Instead, the DNC hired a third party organization, CrowdStrike, to perform an analysis.
“We’re relying only on the report of somebody that the DNC contracted to examine their computer rather than having federal officials [examine them],” Farenthold told CNN. “To me, we need to let the feds look at it.”
As WND reported, Rich was murdered July 10, 2016, in his affluent neighborhood in Washington, D.C. He was shot in the back with a handgun at 4:18 a.m. a block from his home, and nothing was taken from him. He was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead at 5:57 a.m. On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released 20,000 emails from DNC officials.