Details of Seth Rich’s final hours have been revealed. But the moments leading up to his death are still a mystery. Does this mean Seth wasn’t an informant for Wikileaks?
The Democratic National Committee staffer who was mysteriously gunned down a block from his home on July 10 had been drinking heavily at a bar and was depressed over an argument with his girlfriend on the night of his death – which could have made him a prime target for violence in the high-crime northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood where he was killed.
Patrolling police, responding to the sound of multiple gunshots, found Seth Rich, 27, lying on the street with bullet wounds at around 4:19 a.m. Rich, who still had his wallet and cell phone on him when police arrived, was pronounced dead in a local hospital about an hour later.
Since then, the murder has set off a flurry of international speculation and conspiracy theories, including claims that Rich, who worked in the voter access department, leaked sensitive DNC documents to Wikileaks or was about the blow the whistle on Democratic voting fraud.
The timeline of Rich’s final hours independently compiled by Daily Mail Online cuts against conspiracy theories that claim the DNC staffer was assassinated or on his way to an FBI meeting when he was killed – although the crucial minutes leading up to his death are still unaccounted for.
And as police investigate whether the murder was tied to a string of armed robberies in the neighborhood, the Daily Mail can exclusively report that three prior felons have been arrested for robbing people at gunpoint just blocks from the scene of Rich’s shooting.
According to staff at Lou’s City Bar, a sports pub Rich frequented five or six nights a week, it started off as any typical Saturday. Rich showed up alone that evening and sat at his usual leather stool in the corner of the bar. He was a regular at the pub, often showing up straight from the office in a shirt and tie and lugging his laptop bag.
Over the past few years, Rich had befriended Lou’s bartenders and bussers, frequently sticking around for drinks with them after closing or going out with them to other late-night spots in the neighborhood. He liked to argue sports and politics, but not in a combative way.
‘For the most part, I would say he talked to people who were on staff,’ said Bernard Warren, the part-time manager on duty that night. ‘He would get into a conversation with guys who were sitting about sports, and even about politics, things like that…he was a friendly guy…a Midwestern kind of guy.’
But that night, something was clearly bothering Rich – those who knew him said he had been having problems with his girlfriend – and he seemed to drink more than usual. He got particularly depressed when one country western love song came on, and asked the bartender to turn it off.
‘He was a little bit sadder than usual,’ said Lou’s general manager Joe Capone. ‘Problems between girlfriends and boyfriends. It was like always wondering what the next step is [in the relationship], and what you’re going to do next. There’s always those worries, and Seth was worried about that a little bit.’
Rich’s girlfriend, Kelsey Mulka , 25 – who was not in D.C. on the weekend Seth was killed – declined to be interviewed for this story. Seth’s parents said he was on his cell phone with her when he was killed.
By closing time, around 1:45 a.m., Rich was unusually drunk. The 27-year-old DNC staffer could normally throw back Bell’s beer for hours without a problem, but that night he was uncharacteristically unsteady on his feet as he made his way out the door.
‘It was rare for him to really show that he had been drinking,’ said Warren. ‘That was unusual for him. That was very, very unusual for him to do that.’
When Warren saw Rich standing outside on the patio with some of the bar staff as he was locking up, he felt a protective instinct kick in and asked if he needed a ride home. Rich said no – he was planning to walk over to Wonderland Ballroom, a popular late-night bar, a few blocks away.
‘I’ll always wonder if maybe if I had been more convincing with him…,’ said Warren, trailing off. ‘But he wanted to go someplace else and drink. That was for certain. And I wasn’t going to hang out. I had to get up the next morning for basketball.’
Rich left on foot, but it is unclear if he ever ended up going to Wonderland, a crowded weekend bar known for its live music. He was not well-known to the employees there. Staffers who worked that night told the Daily Mail that they did not recall whether they saw him based on his photo.
Wonderland closed at 2:30 a.m. that night, according to employees. Other bars and late-night food places on the block said they would have closed by the same time or earlier.