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Police widen slaying probe

Investigators piecing together the mystery of why a Baltimore federalprosecutor was left stabbed and drowned in a rural Pennsylvania creek soughtinformation yesterday about the lawyer's friends and have questioned hoteloperators near the crime scene about possible suspicious activity on the nighthe disappeared.

Federal agents also met for about two hours yesterday with the parents ofJonathan P. Luna at their home in Columbia. The agents asked who Luna's closefriends were while he lived in New York and about financial support heprovided to his family.

In Lancaster County, Pa., FBI agents showed a photograph of Luna, 38, tomanagers of at least five hotels along U.S. 222, just off the PennsylvaniaTurnpike and minutes from where Luna's battered body was discovered earlyThursday.

At each stop, the agents asked the hotel managers whether they recalled anyunusual activity in their parking lots that night, those interviewed said. Butnone of those hotel operators said they recognized the young lawyer, and nonesaid they had outside surveillance cameras that could have captured anysuspicious activity.

"We talked to our staff, and no one knows this person," Raj Patel, generalmanager of the Comfort Inn off U.S. 222, said of Luna yesterday. "No one hasseen him here."

Last night, two Pennsylvania state police troopers returned to at least oneof the hotels and asked for copies of guest register cards from Wednesday, thenight Luna disappeared.

Guest register checked

Sherrie Stelter, general manger of the Black Horse Lodge and Suites inDenver, just south of the crime scene, said the troopers also asked to look atthe guest register records for Thursday and Friday.

The interviews continued a broad search for clues into the death of Luna,who was stabbed 36 times.

Luna was the lead prosecutor last week in a drug conspiracy trial in U.S.District Court in Baltimore, and he disappeared after telling a lawyer in thecase late Wednesday night that he was returning to the downtown courthouse tocomplete paperwork for an expected plea agreement.

A law enforcement official told The Sun on Friday that authorities suspectLuna's death was the result of a personal relationship that turned violent andwas not a random attack or retaliation for his work as a prosecutor. Theofficial said the case probably will be handled as a local murder prosecutionin Pennsylvania.

The district attorney for Lancaster County, Donald R. Totaro, saidyesterday that no conclusions had been reached about the case.

"We're pursuing many different leads right now, both in Lancaster [County]and in Baltimore," said Totaro, who said he expects to meet tomorrow withLuna's boss, Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, to discuss the case.

DiBiagio vowed at a news conference late Thursday that authorities wouldfind Luna's killer, saying, "We are dedicated to bringing the personsresponsible for this tragedy to justice."

Vickie E. LeDuc, a spokeswoman for DiBiagio, said yesterday that the officehad no comment on the investigation.

The days before Luna's disappearance seem to have been normal. He spentThanksgiving with his wife and two young sons at their townhouse in Elkridgewith his mother-in-law and his parents, whom Luna helped to move three yearsago from a low-income housing complex in the Bronx, N.Y., to a modest,two-bedroom apartment in Columbia, where he helped pay their rent.

In an interview yesterday, Paul D. Luna said that he and his son hadplanned a trip to New York City the weekend after Thanksgiving. But Jonathancanceled the trip, saying he had to travel to Pennsylvania on Nov. 28 forwork.

The father said his son told him: "I'm sorry, Dad, I have a case. I have togo to Pennsylvania."

Drug trial

Luna was preparing for the drug conspiracy trial the Monday afterThanksgiving in U.S. District Court. The case involved two Baltimore menaccused of selling heroin from their Hampden recording studio, Stash HouseRecords, and one of the government's key cooperating witnesses apparently wasbeing detained at a facility near Philadelphia, defense attorney Arcangelo M.Tuminelli said yesterday.

Questions remained about what would have drawn Luna to Pennsylvania lessthan a week later, on a night when he had told Tuminelli and his wife that hewas returning to the federal courthouse from his home to complete pleadocuments in the case.

Building records show that Luna was at the courthouse about 11:30 p.m., andthat he had parked his Honda Accord in the building's tightly secured garage.

When the car was found the next morning, idling near Luna's body in afield, investigators found blood on the driver's-side door and fender, a largepool of blood on the floor and cash scattered inside the vehicle.

As they work to establish a chronology for Luna after he left thecourthouse, authorities are reviewing withdrawals from Luna's bank accountmade at automated teller machines.

In Pennsylvania, authorities were trying to determine what stops he mighthave made in the area.

"Certainly there would be a canvass as broadly as we could take it,including hotels and convenience stores, just on the chance that theindividual might have been there," Totaro said.

The agents who visited Luna's parents yesterday said they had no solidleads in the case.

"I believe the entire family will have closure once the criminals arecaught," said David Luna, 40, Jonathan Luna's older brother. "This is a scarthat will remain with us the rest of our lives."

Sun staff writer Gail Gibson contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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