The Maryland man wanted for the murders of a corporate executive, his wife, their son, and their housekeeper in an upscale Washington D.C. home was arrested late Thursday.
Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was taken into custody by members of a fugitive task force without incident in northeast Washington. WTTG reported that Wint was the passenger in a car that had been followed by authorities from a motel in suburban College Park, Md. The station also reported that authorities arrested Wint’s brother when they pulled over a box truck that was found to contain a large amount of cash.
Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Wint late Wednesday. The warrant charged him with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife Amy, 47; the couple’s 10-year-old son Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa, 57. The four were found dead in the Savolpoulos family’s burning home in a wealthy Northwest Washington neighborhood on the afternoon of May 14.
No other suspects have been identified, but police have not ruled out the possibility that other people were involved in the murders.
The search for Wint had extended as far north as New York City after D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier said earlier Thursday that the suspect may have been in Brooklyn. U.S. Marshals Service Commander Rob Fernandez told reporters late Thursday that authorities had tracked Wint to New York Wednesday, but had “barely missed him.”
Police have not revealed a possible motive for why Wint targeted the Savopoulos family. Authorities 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.
Sources: Police matched DC murder suspect to DNA on pizza
Police identify suspect in DC family’s murder
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 received an honorable discharge for medical reasons, the records show. Following his discharge, he worked as a certified welder, the records show.
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. Authorities believe, based on statements made by the staff, that the four victims were held against their will for several hours before being killed sometime on May 14. Sources told WTTG that Savvos and Amy Savopoulos, as well as Veralicia Figueroa, were found in chairs and doused with gasoline. Philip Savopoulos was found in his bed, covered in lacerations and burned beyond recognition.
Hours after the fire, the family’s blue Porsche turned up in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. 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. The delivery driver who dropped off the pizza told WTTG he was paid in cash placed in an envelope outside the front door.
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 Figureroa 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.
Adding another layer of intrigue to the story, Gutierrez told WTTG an assistant to Savvos Savopoulos dropped off $40,000 in cash at the home on the morning of the fire. She said the money was meant to be used to finance the opening of the martial arts studio. It was not immediately clear if that money was what was found on the box truck when Wint was arrested late Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.