Although most people think of Watergate as the quintessential D.C. crime and political scandal, woven into D.C.’s rich history are a number of other vivid and fascinating capital crimes!
Passion, evil, and greed -- notable motives for millions of crimes committed over the years, coupled with D.C.'s illustrious political setting, permeate the back stories of these five fascinating and true D.C. crime stories.
1. The Anthrax Killer
Within days of the horrific September 11, 2001, attacks, anonymous letters laced with Anthrax were mailed to a number of individuals, including Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in Washington, D.C. Several people died as a result of the exposure which was initially thought to be a part of a plot by Arab extremists, or possibly Osama bin Laden, who had orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.
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Letter received by Tom Brokaw during 2001 Anthrax Attacks[/caption]
Eventually, the FBI suspected Bruce Ivins, an infectious diseases scientist at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and a leading anthrax researcher who actually helped with the investigation. Unfortunately, before his arrest, Ivins committed suicide and no motive for the crime was ever formally determined, although it was noted that Ivins had held some type of grudge due to a cut in funding for his research project.
2. Chandra Levy
Chandra Levy mysteriously disappeared on May 1, 2001, and her remains were not found until one year later when it was determined that she was murdered. During the search, the media reported that Chandra had an affair with U.S. Representative Gary Condit, and theories abounded that Chandra was murdered in order to keep the affair a secret. During that year, Condit refused to submit to a polygraph, and the FBI investigated Condit for obstruction of justice, which fanned the flames of media coverage and ultimately led to Condit's failed attempt at reelection.
To date, Chandra's case has not been solved. In 2008, an illegal immigrant named Ingmar A. Guandique was convicted of her murder, but the conviction was overturned in 2015 due to perjured testimony of a jail informant.
3. Seth Rich
In July 2016, 27-year-old DNC staffer Seth Rich was shot in the back near his home in NW Washington, D.C. in the early morning hours. Although police are currently investigating this as a failed robbery attempt, conspiracy theories have emerged lately due to the fact that none of Rich’s belongings were stolen. Additionally, a private investigator hired by Rich’s family recently announced that Rich had allegedly sent over 44,000 DNC-related emails to WikiLeaks before his murder. Rich’s family denies this, but media outlets are gripping the story daily.
4. Aldrich Ames
Perhaps most notably famous for the mailbox that Ames and his Soviet connections marked with chalk to signal the need for a meeting at 37th and R Streets in D.C., Aldrich Ames, was convicted of espionage in 1994. Ames worked for the CIA as an operative for a number of years and assisted in assessing Soviet Embassy officials as potential CIA assets. But between 1985 and 1993, Ames also provided the Soviets with hundreds of names of U.S. spies that resulted in a number of executions. Ames avoided an intense CIA investigation for over five years to find a suspected mole within the agency and was eventually caught due to suspicions over his lavish lifestyle.
5. Dan Sickles
A visit to D.C. usually includes a stop at the White House and Lafayette Square Park where a famous murder occurred in the 1860s. Dan Sickles, a U.S. Senator from 1956-1861, shot and killed the son of Francis Scott Key in Lafayette Park when he found out that Key’s son was having an affair with Sickles’ wife. Sickles' defense team included Edward M. Stanton who, for the first time in U.S. history pleaded temporary insanity, thereby setting the stage for future "crime of passion" defenses. Sickles was not only acquitted of the Key murder but was also hailed as a media hero for “saving” the women of Washington from Key.
Did we miss one of your favorite D.C. crime stories? Let us know in the comments!