How Jack Burkman became an unlikely central figure in a world of conspiracy theories.
Jul. 10, 2017 6:00 AM
Seth Rich was dead, and Jack Burkman was thinking of his mom. Back in the ’80s, when Burkman got to Georgetown Law School after growing up near Pittsburgh, she’d warned him to be careful in his new city. Now he pictured her getting a call from the police, informing her that her son had been shot to death near his Washington home. It tugged at his heart. Most people would have stopped there. Burkman decided to find the killer.
He wasn’t a cop or a private eye—just a 51-year-old Republican lawyer and lobbyist—but he didn’t care. If he didn’t solve the case, he thought, no one else would.
The facts seemed relatively straightforward. On July 10, 2016, Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, was murdered, shot in the back. His night had started with drinks at Lou’s City Bar and ended with a long walk home, during which he talked on the phone with his girlfriend, Kelsey. Around 4:20 a.m., Kelsey heard voices in the background, and Rich calmly told her that he needed to go. Almost immediately afterward, the police department’s gunfire detectors reported shots fired near Rich’s home. When officers found him, he was still alive. Later that morning, he died at a local hospital.