Decision in slaying probe set for today

Sun Staff

Authorities probing the slaying of a Baltimore federal prosecutor areexpected to decide the future course of the investigation today and couldannounce that it will be pursued as a local murder case in the Pennsylvaniacounty where his body was found, not as a federal crime.

Investigators gathered information over the weekend on Jonathan P. Luna'sprivate life that could help explain his death. One law enforcement sourcesaid yesterday that Luna, 38, had suffered severe beating injuries in hisgenital area before he was killed, suggesting a "highly personal" motivebehind the crime.

Federal agents questioned Luna's family and friends about recent trips hemight have taken to Pennsylvania, his personal life as well as his finances,according to family members and law enforcement sources. One source saidagents were investigating whether Luna's credit card was used in thePhiladelphia area the night he disappeared.

Authorities also were examining messages posted by someone using the nameJonathan Luna on Internet dating sites. The author of the messages, from April1997, described himself as a discreet 31-year-old married, professional blackmale seeking a white female sexual partner; but the authenticity of thepostings could not be verified yesterday.

'Perfect couple'

The slain prosecutor's father, Paul D. Luna, 83, said yesterday that FBIagents had told him that they thought his son's death was not connected to hiswork. Among other things, agents were asking whether Luna had a girlfriend, anotion 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 authoritiessuspected Luna's death was the result of a personal relationship that turnedviolent and was not a random act of violence or in retaliation for his job. IfLuna left Maryland willingly and was not targeted because of his job, it isunlikely that his death could be prosecuted as a federal kidnapping case orthe murder of a federal official.

Officials could announce today that the case is expected to be prosecutedby the local district attorney in Pennsylvania, who was scheduled to meet withLuna's boss, Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio.

DiBiagio vowed last week to find Luna's killer, but his office has declinedto make further comment on the investigation. The Lancaster County prosecutor,Donald R. Totaro, said he would not comment until after today's meeting inBaltimore.

Luna's body was found shortly before dawn Thursday, stabbed 36 times andleft face down in a creek in rural Brecknock Township, Pa. A source close tothe investigation said yesterday that Luna's battered body was positioneddirectly in front of his still-idling Honda Accord, suggesting that hisattacker might have considered running over the body before retreating.

The condition of Luna's body and the apparent zeal of killing promptedinvestigators to examine whether the killing was the result of a personalconflict. Two law enforcement sources said yesterday that Luna's genital areawas severely wounded, with one source describing the injuries as consistentwith beating and bruising.

Retracing steps

The mystery of what happened to Luna was complicated in part by therelatively short time he was missing. Luna was concluding a drug conspiracytrial in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Wednesday, and he had returned tothe courthouse that night after telling a defense lawyer that he planned tocomplete the paperwork for an expected plea deal the next morning.

Luna left the courthouse after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, and his body wasdiscovered about six hours later and about 70 miles northeast of downtownBaltimore. Law enforcement sources have indicated that officials retracingLuna's steps think that he traveled through Delaware, toward Philadelphia, andmade a series of ATM withdrawals along the route.

Brecknock Township, where Luna's body was found, is about 80 miles west ofPhiladelphia.

FBI agents have questioned Luna's family about recent trips he took toPennsylvania. 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 travelto Pennsylvania for work.

The government's central witness in Luna's drug conspiracy case that beganthe next Monday was a Baltimore man named Warren Grace, who was being detainedat a facility outside Philadelphia, Maryland Federal Public Defender JamesWyda said yesterday.

Grace, who was represented by the federal public defender's office, had metwith Luna at the Pennsylvania facility several time in recent months, Wydasaid.

Questions remained, though, about what would have drawn Luna toPennsylvania late on a night when he had work to complete in the case and wasexpected to be back in the courtroom at 9:30 a.m.

Authorities have not identified any suspects in Luna's killing. But inPennsylvania, 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 Iwould put my money on the police solving this."

Sun staff writer Lynn Anderson contributed to this article.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad