By Alicia Powe and Chelsea Schilling
WASHINGTON – On the one-year anniversary of the murder of Seth Rich, dozens of concerned Americans gathered outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., to honor the DNC staffer’s memory and demand answers from top Democrats about the mysterious slaying.
But Democrats laughed Monday as they passed the crowd of at least 30 people who held a silent vigil and later chanted, “Justice for Seth Rich!”
Ralliers held up stuffed panda bears in memory of Rich, who reportedly used the pseudonym “Panda” online. They also held signs demanding to see Rich’s death certificate and unreleased body-camera footage obtained by Metropolitan Police Department officers at the scene of the murder.
As WND has reported, Rich, the DNC’s 27-year-old voter expansion data director, had accepted a position with Hillary Clinton’s campaign just before his death. He was murdered in Washington, D.C., near his apartment in an affluent neighborhood. Rich was shot twice in the back with a handgun, and his wallet, credit cards, watch and phone were left in his possession. The Metropolitan Police Department has described the murder as a “botched robbery.” No suspects have been named, and no one has been arrested.
Private investigators have claimed there is evidence Rich was the source WikiLeaks used to obtain thousands of DNC emails released on the eve of the party’s presidential nominating convention last July. The emails, indicating the party was manipulating the primary race in favor of Hillary Clinton, led to the resignation of former DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. On July 22, just 12 days after Rich’s death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released 20,000 DNC emails.
As WND reported, the total reward for solving Rich’s murder currently stands at approximately a half-million dollars. However, the DNC has offered no reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of its own young staffer. Instead, the DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters to Rich’s memory.
During Monday’s vigil, some DNC employees peered out the windows of their headquarters building. As other Democrats left their workplace, vigil attendees asked questions about Rich. But none would talk about their late colleague.
Two DNC staffers standing outside the building became defensive and accused the protesters of making Rich’s death “political” and “picking alternative facts.”
As their workday ended, some women who work for the DNC snickered as they passed the vigil. One man said, “You guys are pathetic.” Most DNC employees ignored the crowd’s questions, and several put headphones on as they moved quickly to evade cameras.
WND was on the scene to ask vigil attendees for their thoughts on the Rich murder mystery.
“I personally believe that this guy leaked these emails to WikiLeaks because he saw what was going on, and, because he did this, he was murdered,” said Robert Herrera from Alexandria, Virginia. “I believe that, and I don’t think that makes me some paranoid freak. I don’t that makes me some weird conspiracy theorist. That just makes me a normal person who has looked at the circumstances. And we need to get down to the bottom of this.”
Herrera called Rich’s murder a “hit” and explained why he believes members of Congress won’t even discuss Rich’s murder.
“There is a political establishment in this town that is not just Democratic, but both Democratic and Republican, they’re taking money from people,” he said. “They’ve got their own agenda that’s not representative of what the American people want – it’s what they want. This is why I think it’s so important that we get down to the bottom of this issue. I think the Republicans have some skin in this game. I really do.”
Marie McCenna, a woman from Denver, Colorado, who helped organize the vigil, told WND she doesn’t believe the claims that Rich’s murder was likely the result of a botched robbery.
“I don’t think he was a robbery-gone-wrong victim,” she said. “I grew up here in Washington, D.C. I’ve actually been mugged in D.C. I’ve never met someone who was mugged that was beaten and shot twice in the back when [the robbers] took nothing.”
McCenna continued: “There is a lot of information that is being withheld. There is body cam footage that the officers were wearing. There’s interviews that we haven’t heard from the first responders – from the medical personnel who attended to him. His ‘robbery gone wrong’ is unlike any other in the capital area.
“When you hear of people being murdered here, usually that footage is released immediately. And the public is asked for their help. So I want to know: Why hasn’t that happened yet? Why are we here a year later with zero progress? Why are we still saying it’s a ‘robbery gone wrong’ when the indications are that it’s something else?
“Obviously there’s something else going on. We can all speculate as to what that might be. If they would like the ‘conspiracies,’ as they like to call them, to stop, that would mean that they start releasing facts and truth so we can all see what actually did happen.”
A man from New York City, Ryan Rodriguez, said he traveled to D.C. just for the Rich vigil.
“It’s a really big issue,” he said. “I really think it’s going to crack open all the other lies that are going on in this country.”
Rodriguez said he believes there’s a major cover-up of the facts surrounding Rich’s murder.
“The official story isn’t true, to say the very least,” he said. “Everything about the story of a botched robbery seems to be a lie. The police department publishes YouTube videos for all the murder victims in D.C. – that didn’t happen for Seth Rich. They took all the local surveillance footage that would have showed him … on his way home that night from the bar. That would have shown the body cameras. Everything smells of a huge cover-up.”
Neil Wolfe, who described himself as an amateur journalist and investigator from TheLightReports.com, told WND: “As an American – I am not a Democrat, I am not a Republican – I find it very disturbing that an individual can get murdered and we have this sort of systemic cover-up, particularly when this individual was stepping forward in order to show us systemic corruption in one of our major parties, which corrupted our system and corrupted the election.”
Wolfe said he wants to know why the DNC refused to give the FBI and CIA access to its allegedly hacked servers.
“I suspect they did [refuse] because it would have shown an internal breach,” he said. “The reason I believe that they obstructed the FBI and the CIA is because it would then undermine their Russian narrative. It’s very important to them. Imagine the collapse that would happen to their whole silly story of the ‘Russians hacked their server’ if it turned out that Rich had internally leaked the information.”
Two women, Trisha and Shay, came all the way to D.C. from Dallas, Texas, for the vigil.
“We’ve been following this case for a year,” Trisha told WND. “There’s been no justice, and we want answers. His death should be a wake-up call for a lot of us.”
She said if authorities and the mainstream media would just provide straight answers, Americans wouldn’t need to speculate about what happened.
“Mainstream media don’t want to touch it,” Trisha said. “It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”
Shay said she believes the DNC didn’t go far enough by offering a bike rack in memory of Rich.
“That shows they really don’t care, or that they want to minimize the event that happened,” she said. “They did just enough to pacify.”
Writer Jack Posoebic and his fiancee, Tanya Tay, were also present at the vigil.
“[The vigil’ is in remembrance of Seth Rich, who worked here up until one year ago today, when he was brutally murdered,” Posobeic said. “At the heart of it, regardless of what happened, this is a member of a major U.S. political party who was murdered during the heat of an extremely contentious U.S. election. You would think that is something the FBI would want to be getting into – the same way you’d think that the FBI would want to be getting into examining the servers in this very building behind us, which they’ve never done.”
What does Posoebic want from the DNC?
“I’d like to see the DNC come forward and stand with everybody who is asking questions – who is asking for more investigation – to put pressure on the Democrat mayor … to put pressure on them to say we’d like to hear answers. We’d like to seek justice for what happened to Seth. He didn’t deserve it. And we’d like to know, quite frankly, that the people or person who did this is behind bars and not able to do it to somebody else.”
DNC won’t release evidence of any Rich-WikiLeaks ties
As WND reported last week, a team of private investigators demanded the DNC turn over “any and all” information that could help determine whether there is a link between the email hacking during the 2016 presidential race and the mysterious murder of Rich.
But the DNC wouldn’t provide any information Thursday, claiming it’s “not interested in propagating conspiracy theories about a beloved colleague.”
Jack Burkman, a lawyer and GOP lobbyist who is funding the Profiling Project, wrote the letter on behalf of the group.
“By way of this letter, I am formally asking that the DNC release any, and all, information to our independent investigators – including emails, internal memos and other correlating information regarding discussions of this matter – that may help them determine the connection, if any between the DNC hacking and the murder of Seth Rich,” the letter states. “I look forward to your cooperation in our efforts to find those responsible for killing a young man with a bright future and one of your employees.”
In its response to the Profiling Project’s letter, the DNC stated:
“The DNC supports law enforcement in their work to get to the bottom of this terrible tragedy and hold the perpetrators accountable. The DNC is not interested in propagating conspiracy theories about a beloved colleague.
“We ask news organizations to respect Seth’s memory and stop highlighting publicity stunts and spreading false or debunked information.”
Also in June, the Profiling Project released a preliminary 80-page report on Rich that details why it’s highly improbable that the DNC staffer was the victim of a random homicide.
The project, an “all-volunteer group of current and former George Washington University forensic psychology graduate students and instructors,” said it came together for the investigation to “aid the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police utilizing forensic psychology skills and tools in hopes of providing at least one actionable item.”
The findings included:
- Seth’s death does not appear to be a random homicide.
- Seth’s death does not appear to be a robbery gone bad.
- Seth[‘s] death was more likely committed by a hired killer or serial murderer.
- There may be additional video surveillance of the crime and crime scene.
- The resolution of prosecuting the individual(s) responsible appears to be hindered both actively and passively.
- Seth’s killer(s) most likely remains free within the community.
The group found in its investigation “the crime scene was very organized to the point of being sanitized.”
As WND reported, emergency responders, the Metropolitan Police Department and two local hospitals are refusing to reveal what hospital admitted and treated Rich before an unnamed physician pronounced him dead on July 10, 2016. Furthermore, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reportedly refused to release Rich’s autopsy report.
Also, as WND reported, a manager at Lou’s City Bar, the last known location where Rich was seen before his murder, claims police never interviewed the bar’s staff or requested evidence, such as footage from security cameras. And police never questioned Rich’s DNC co-workers.
Rich’s story has been largely ignored by establishment media. Those who have called attention to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the murder have been branded “conspiracy theorists,” including Fox News host Sean Hannity.
WND also asked 125 members of Congress to weigh in on the unsolved murder, but not a single U.S. representative agreed to address the case.
Watch as WND asks locals for their thoughts on Seth Rich murder and investigation:
Rich’s family released the following statement on the anniversary of the DNC staffer’s murder:
On the anniversary of the passing of our son and brother, we are again feeling the deep loss of this senseless act. We want to take a moment and thank those who have helped preserve Seth’s legacy by contributing time, energy and resources towards a scholarship fund in his name that will enable children from across the country to enjoy his beloved Camp Ramah. The many words of support from around the country and the world have been very comforting to us during this difficult year. We are hopeful that folks take the lessons of Seth’s life and the values that guided him to heartPublic service, civic participation, democracy and working together to enrich each others’ lives.
In addition to the first-time camper who will be enjoying Camp Ramah in Wisconsin as the first recipient of the Seth Conrad Rich Memorial Scholarship Endowment, Creighton University will award a scholarship to a student for the upcoming school year. This scholarship will come from the Seth Rich Scholarship Endowment. The criteria for awarding the scholarship will be for “applicants who embody qualities of involvement, leadership, service, and the determination to make a positive difference in the world.” The Nebraska Society of DC has set up a fund in Seth’s name and will be using that fund to provide financial assistance to an intern from Nebraska who will be serving our country in Washington, DC, this year. Thanks to the donations to the Seth Rich Memorial Camp Scholarship fund at Beth El Synagogue’s annual Cantor’s Concert, more than twenty campers will receive assistance in going to Jewish camps. These “service grants” will be repaid by the recipients by service to the synagogue during the year. All of this is to say that despite so much that our family has gone through this year, that Seth’s legacy of public service, his determination to make the world a better place and his genuine desire to foster engagement among Americans of all ages persists, and it serves as a comfort to our family at a dark time.
The family would also like to thank the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, for their ongoing investigation of the murder of Seth. While we are saddened that the crime has not been solved yet, we were aware early on, this was going to be a difficult case to solve. We are grateful for the ongoing communication from the MPD, and hopeful that their continued efforts will allow the case to be solved and justice to be delivered.
Finally, we are compelled to address those who are claiming to help by undertaking private “investigations,” staging re-enactments, or traveling to Seth’s old neighborhood to perform citizen interviews. Our request is that anyone with information about Seth’s murder share such information with MPD, which is the law enforcement agency authorized by law to perform this investigation. And while we recognize the futility of this request, we make it anyway: please cease using Seth as a political football in predetermined partisan narratives.
The continual push of false and inaccurate information about Seth’s death, along with the harassment of Seth’s friends, family and co-workers, hurts those who were closest to Seth, and does nothing to bring justice to his killers. Those who still live in Seth’s neighborhood are owed the peace of mind that comes with finding those responsible for this heinous crime, and we deserve that no less.
Mary Rich Joel Rich Aaron Rich