Imagine living in a nightmare that you can never wake up from. Imagine having to face every single day knowing that your son was murdered. Imagine you have no answers — that no one has been brought to justice and there are few clues leading to the killer or killers. Imagine that every single day, with every phone call you hope that it’s the police, calling to tell you that there has been a break in the case.
Imagine that instead, every call that comes in is a reporter asking what you think of a series of lies or conspiracies about the death. That nightmare is what our family goes through every day.
Our beloved son Seth Rich was gunned down in the early hours of July 10, 2016, in his Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Bloomingdale. On the day he was murdered, Seth was excited about a new job he had been offered on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Seth had dedicated his life to public service, and he told us that he wanted to work on the campaign’s effort to expand voter participation because he loved our country dearly and believed deeply in the promise of democratic engagement. Seth had been walking around, calling friends, family and his girlfriend, pondering the broader picture of what the job change would mean. He wondered how he would pick up and move to New York City for four months, the strain that might put on his relationships, and how it would all affect the life he had built for himself in Washington.
The circumstances of what happened next are still unclear. We know that Seth was abruptly confronted on the street, that he had been on the phone and quickly ended the call. We also know that there were signs of a struggle, including a watchband torn when the assailants attempted to rip it off his wrist. Law enforcement officials told us that Seth’s murder looked like a botched robbery attempt in which the assailants — after shooting our son — panicked, immediately ran and abandoned Seth’s personal belongings. We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth’s murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics. Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying.
Still, conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the Democratic National Committee. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.
We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks. Nor did that inspection reveal any evidence that Seth had leaked emails to WikiLeaks or to anyone else. Indeed, those who have suggested that Seth’s role as a data analyst at the Democratic National Committee gave him access to a wide trove of emails are simply incorrect — Seth’s job was to develop analytical models to encourage voters to turn out to vote. He didn’t have access to the committee’s emails, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails, John Podesta’s emails or Hillary Clinton’s emails. That simply wasn’t his job.
Despite these facts, our family’s nightmare persists. Seth’s death has been turned into a political football. Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy. It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us.
To those who sincerely want to get to the bottom of Seth’s murder, we don’t hold this against you. We don’t think you are monsters, and we don’t think you are terrible people. We know that so many people out there really do care, don’t know what to think and are angry at the lack of answers.
We also know that many people are angry at our government and want to see justice done in some way, somehow. We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.
Mary and Joel Rich are the parents of Seth Rich, who was killed in the District of Columbia in 2016.