Authorities probing the slaying of a Baltimore federal prosecutor are expected to decide the future course of the investigation today and could announce that it will be pursued as a local murder case in the Pennsylvania county where his body was found, not as a federal crime.
Investigators gathered information over the weekend on Jonathan P. Luna's
private life that could help explain his death. One law enforcement source
said yesterday that Luna, 38, had suffered severe beating injuries in his
genital area before he was killed, suggesting a "highly personal" motive
behind the crime.
Federal agents questioned Luna's family and friends about recent trips he
might have taken to Pennsylvania, his personal life as well as his finances,
according to family members and law enforcement sources. One source said
agents were investigating whether Luna's credit card was used in the
Philadelphia area the night he disappeared.
Authorities also were examining messages posted by someone using the name
Jonathan Luna on Internet dating sites. The author of the messages, from April
1997, described himself as a discreet 31-year-old married, professional black
male seeking a white female sexual partner; but the authenticity of the
postings could not be verified yesterday.
The slain prosecutor's father, Paul D. Luna, 83, said yesterday that FBI
agents had told him that they thought his son's death was not connected to his
work. Among other things, agents were asking whether Luna had a girlfriend, a
notion rejected by family members who said Luna and his wife, Angela, were the
"perfect couple" and doted on their two young sons.
A law enforcement official told The Sun on Friday that authorities
suspected Luna's death was the result of a personal relationship that turned
violent and was not a random act of violence or in retaliation for his job. If
Luna left Maryland willingly and was not targeted because of his job, it is
unlikely that his death could be prosecuted as a federal kidnapping case or
the murder of a federal official.
Officials could announce today that the case is expected to be prosecuted
by the local district attorney in Pennsylvania, who was scheduled to meet with
Luna's boss, Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio.
DiBiagio vowed last week to find Luna's killer, but his office has declined
to make further comment on the investigation. The Lancaster County prosecutor,
Donald R. Totaro, said he would not comment until after today's meeting in
Luna's body was found shortly before dawn Thursday, stabbed 36 times and
left face down in a creek in rural Brecknock Township, Pa. A source close to
the investigation said yesterday that Luna's battered body was positioned
directly in front of his still-idling Honda Accord, suggesting that his
attacker might have considered running over the body before retreating.
The condition of Luna's body and the apparent zeal of killing prompted
investigators to examine whether the killing was the result of a personal
conflict. Two law enforcement sources said yesterday that Luna's genital area
was severely wounded, with one source describing the injuries as consistent
with beating and bruising.
The mystery of what happened to Luna was complicated in part by the
relatively short time he was missing. Luna was concluding a drug conspiracy
trial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Wednesday, and he had returned to
the courthouse that night after telling a defense lawyer that he planned to
complete the paperwork for an expected plea deal the next morning.
Luna left the courthouse after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, and his body was
discovered about six hours later and about 70 miles northeast of downtown
Baltimore. Law enforcement sources have indicated that officials retracing
Luna's steps think that he traveled through Delaware, toward Philadelphia, and
made a series of ATM withdrawals along the route.
Brecknock Township, where Luna's body was found, is about 80 miles west of
FBI agents have questioned Luna's family about recent trips he took to
Pennsylvania. One was as recent as the Friday after Thanksgiving, when Paul D.
Luna has said his son had to cancel a planned trip to New York City to travel
to Pennsylvania for work.
The government's central witness in Luna's drug conspiracy case that began
the next Monday was a Baltimore man named Warren Grace, who was being detained
at a facility outside Philadelphia, Maryland Federal Public Defender James
Wyda said yesterday.
Grace, who was represented by the federal public defender's office, had met
with Luna at the Pennsylvania facility several time in recent months, Wyda
Questions remained, though, about what would have drawn Luna to
Pennsylvania late on a night when he had work to complete in the case and was
expected to be back in the courtroom at 9:30 a.m.
Authorities have not identified any suspects in Luna's killing. But in
Pennsylvania, local leaders were confident that the case would be solved.
"You're always concerned with acts of this viciousness," said Paul R.
Thibault, chairman of the Lancaster County board of commissioners. "But I
would put my money on the police solving this."
Sun staff writer Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.
Decision in slaying probe set for today
Luna case could go to Pa.; sources say prosecutor had genital-area injuries
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