Pizza helped police ID suspect in D.C. murder mystery

Posted at 12:34 PM, May 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-21 12:34:58-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — DNA left on a delivery pizza may be a major breakthrough in the case of a prominent Washington, D.C., family who were bound, tortured and killed in their home last week, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Police named Daron Wint as a suspect Wednesday night in the gruesome slayings of Savvas Savopoulos, a wealthy manufacturing executive, along with his wife, Amy, their 10-year-old son Philip and the family’s housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa.

Investigators discovered Wint’s DNA on the crust of a Domino’s pizza — one of two delivered to the Savopoulos mansion May 14 as the family was held hostage inside — the source said.

The victims all suffered from blunt force trauma. Authorities believe the all four were killed before the house — located in a tony, embassy-dotted neighborhood near the home of Vice President Joe Biden — was set ablaze, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The source said the victims were bound with duct tape and signs that Philip had been stabbed and tortured before he was set on fire.

The pizza apparently was paid for with cash left in an envelope on the porch, according to police.

The forensic evidence, though it would be the first major break in the case, wouldn’t be the only peculiar twist in the mystery.

The $40,000

Detectives have not released an official motive for the killing, but investigators believe money was a prime factor, and that there are more suspects involved, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

“Whoever was in the house was looking for money,” a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Wednesday.

Savopoulos, 46, was the CEO and president of American Iron Works, a Maryland-based building materials manufacturer. He was also involved in other business ventures, including a martial arts studio he planned to open in northern Virginia.

According to the Washington Post, as the episode unfolded inside, one of his employees came to the home and dropped off $40,000.

A separate law enforcement source disclosed that suspects made off with $40,000.

The missing housekeeper

A few details offering hints at the run-up to the incident have emerged in the days following the fire.

Bernardo Alfaro, the husband of the slain housekeeper, told CNN affiliate WJLA that Veralicia Figueroa never came home the night of May 13, a day before the fire. When he went to the Savopoulos home the following morning, he said Savopoulos’ blue Porsche was parked on the street — he immediately knew something was wrong, according to WJLA.

As Alfaro knocked on the mansion’s door, he said received a phone call from Savopoulos, offering an explanation for his wife’s absence. “I’m sorry because I didn’t call you,” Alfaro said Savopoulos told him. “(Veralicia) is at the hospital … she has to stay with my wife because she was feeling bad and asked Vera to go with her.”

Alfaro said he thought that explanation was curious.

“I started thinking, ‘Why? She doesn’t drive. She doesn’t speak very good English,'” he said.

The text message

A second housekeeper, Nelitza Gutierrez, also received a suspicious text message from Amy Savopoulos, just hours before the fire began, telling her to stay home.

The day before, Gutierrez had received a voice mail from Savvas Savopoulos telling her not to come the following day because his wife was sick.

“Sometimes you never understand why something happens, but I’m lucky I’m still here,” Gutierrez told CNN’s Joe Johns.

The suspect

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, is no stranger to the criminal justice system.

According to court records, Wint has faced multiple charges over the years, including theft, assault and a sexual offense.

Authorities said Thursday that he’s fled D.C., and that they’ve tracked him to the New York area.

He is wanted on first-degree murder charges.