Conspiracy Theories Swirl Around Murder Of DNC Staffer

Seth Rich

Washington DC’s up-and-coming Bloomingdale neighborhood remains gripped by fear three weeks after the murder there of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich — with still no reported leads, suspects or arrests in the killing.

At the same time, conspiracy theories surrounding the murder have reached a new frenzy, especially after the hacking of DNC e-mails led to the resignation of its chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Rich was beaten, shot and killed early on the morning of July 8 while he was walking home and talking on the phone to his girlfriend. Police have said they haven’t determined if his murder was a botched robbery or something else. The killer or killers appear to have taken nothing from their victim, leaving behind his wallet, watch and phone.

A makeshift memorial for Seth Rich.
A makeshift memorial for Seth Rich.

DC’s Metropolitan Police Department tells Heat Street on Friday that there are “no updates” in the case. But while information from authorities may be scarce, the Internet has certainly taken Seth Rich’s story to some very dark places — despite no evidence to back up any of the reigning conspiracy theories.

Shortly after the killing, Redditors and social media users were pursuing a “lead” saying that Rich was en route to the FBI that fateful morning, apparently intending to speak to special agents about an “ongoing court case” possibly involving the Clinton family.

Further “investigation” dug up no such court case and there is no evidence whatsoever that Rich, who did voter outreach work for the DNC, had any knowledge of alleged Clinton misdeeds.

More recently, Wikileaks’s thousands of DNC emails and voice mails have piqued Reddit’s interest, with Redditors combing through years of communications looking for any clue to Rich’s murder.

Reddit’s pro-Donald Trump subreddit, /r/The_Donald posited that Rich could be the DNC’s “leaker” – the one who ultimately gave Wikileaks 30,000 emails to publish.

The reward poster.
The reward poster.

The theory is apparently based on Julian Assange’s recent ITV appearance, where he scoffed at the idea that Russian hackers could be responsible for the data dump, and said that “anyone” within the Democrats’ organization could easily have sent Wikileaks the offending messages.

Given that Rich as a DNC staffer presumably would have had some access to its servers, Reddit is absolutely positive Rich paid the ultimate price for exposing Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC’s crusade against Bernie Sanders.

The crazy conspiracy doesn’t end there. /r/The_Donald had even put together a timeline, worthy of Russell Crowe’s back shed in A Beautiful Mind. Not only does the subreddit link Rich to the Clintons through a series of (alleged) side jobs and encounters, it also links the 27-year-old junior staffer to powerful environmentalists who may or may not be Bernie Sanders supporters. Based on their theory, these “green” bigwigs pushed Rich to release the DNC’s emails, prompting the Clintons, who somehow knew about the operation, to order a hit.

Other conspiracy theorists are seeking to link Rich’s murder to that of Molly Macauley, a beloved “space economist” who had testified before Congress. Macauley was killed just a few days before Rich, while walking her dogs in an upscale Baltimore neighborhood. As with Rich’s death, the murder remains unsolved. There is no evidence to connect the deaths.

Seth Rich’s death is just the latest in a long line of high profile, DC murders that inspire such investigatory fantasies. The proximity to power DC aides enjoy makes them objects of intrigue. The 2001 murder of Capitol Hill intern Chandra Levy, for example, is still in the news, as charges against her accused killer were just dismissed on Thursday – the result of “new” evidence prosecutors say clears the man convicted in her death of responsibility.

Until Seth Rich’s murder is solved, then, expect the Internet to keep digging.

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