Growing up in the projects of New York City, Jonathan Luna always dreamed of graduating college and making his family proud. His father had struggled to make a living with a restaurant while his mother was a housewife. He graduated from Fordham University in 1987 with a degree in history. Afterwards, he enrolled in the University of North Carolina law school. His friends described him as “selfless, engaging, charismatic and a gentle soul.” 1
After graduating law school, Jonathan scored a federal clerkship with U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was here they he met his future wife, Angela. The couple eventually settled down in Elkridge, Baltimore, where they had two sons. Luna got a job working as an Assistant United States Attorney. His focus was on convicting sexual predators. “He dedicated a lot of his caseload to protecting children. He protected hundreds and hundreds of children from abuse,” recalled his colleague, Bonnie Greenberg.
The 4th of December, 2003, started just like any other day. Luna kissed his family goodbye before departing his modest home for work. He had been working on a case involving two men who were accused of dealing heroin from their music label studio, Stash House Records. One of the men was also facing a murder charge. Luna had spent the entire evening working on the case and called Arcangelo Tuminelli, a co-worker, at approximately 9PM that night, saying he was ready to go home and that he would see him the following morning. They were going to offer the two men a plea deal and he would work on it at home throughout the night so it would be ready for the morning. According to the clocking out system in his office car park, Luna didn’t leave the office until 11:38PM.
He left behind his phone and glasses, indicating he left in a rush or had planned to return. He needed the glasses to drive.
At around 1AM, Luna’s car entered Delaware where $200 was lifted from an ATM at a rest stop. He then crossed into New Jersey and on to Pennsylvania at around 4AM. In Pennsylvania, his credit card was used at a Sunoco Station. His E-Z Pass was used on the I-95 into Delaware but after this, he started to purchase toll tickets. His car was then parked behind a Sensenig & Weaver in Denver, Pennsylvania.
It was approximately 5:30AM and the sun was just starting to rise when a worker of Sensenig & Weaver arrived to start his shift. He noticed the discarded car and decided to investigate. He had assumed that it was a drunk driver. As he approached the car, he noticed that blood was smeared over the door and the front fender. When the worker looked into the car window, he found a large puddle of blood on the back seat and back footwell. Money and cell phone equipment had been scattered inside the car.
Nearby in a shallow creek lay the lifeless body of Jonathan Luna.
Luna had sustained 36 stab wounds with his own penknife. The pathologist, Dr. Gary Kirchner, said that his hands had been “shredded” and that his scrotum and throat had both been slashed. After the brutal attack, Luna drowned to death in the creek. Inside the car investigators found that the purchased toll tickets had blood smeared on them. Additionally, the puddle of blood in the back seat and footwell indicated that Luna hadn’t been driving the car, but somebody else. Inside the car was an unidentified fingerprint in the blood as well as blood from an unidentified source.
While the death was initially ruled as a homicide, “law enforcement sources” soon began to speculate that Luna had committed suicide. Dr. Gary Kirchner believed that Luna had been murdered but the FBI asked him to change the manner of death to suicide. Kirchner announced Luna had been “brutalized with multiple stab wounds.” In fact, he even had several stab wounds over his back and defensive wounds on his hands and arms as if attempting to ward off an attacker. He said that some of the wounds to his neck and chest were small puncture marks and were “consistent with torture.” 2
Local Lancaster counter authorities agreed with the pathologist and continued to investigate the grim death as a homicide.
They obtained the CCTV footage from the rest stop in Delaware and the Sunoco Station in Pennsylvania hoping that they could catch a glimpse of Luna. However, he could not be spotted in any of the footage even though his credit card had been used. While he wasn’t spotted on CCTV, several workers claimed they had seen him that night. “He was just very calm. He must have been with people, but I don’t think he knew they were going to kill him,” said one of the employees.
Nevertheless, the manner of death was ultimately changed to suicide and a smear campaign on Luna’s reputation was soon born in cruel case of victim blaming.
It was soon reported in the media that Luna may have involved in a robbery case in which $36,000 went missing. The Baltimore Sun implied that Luna was involved in the robbery and alluded that he had committed suicide because he was afraid that he was going to lose his job. There was never any evidence to corroborate these claims up yet they were published as fact. “His job was not in jeopardy in any respect,” declared U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio.3 Federal sources leaked details of his debt and theorised that he had been having an affair. Everybody that knew Luna had nothing but pleasant words to say about him and found the allegations to be “a well-timed hit job on Luna’s reputation.”
Many theorise that Luna’s death was connected with the drug ring case that he was prosecuting. It should be noted, however, that the two men involved in the drug ring were in jail at the time of his death. Coincidentally, Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, who was also working on a drug ring case, disappeared in 2005. To this day, he has never been found.
What happened to Jonathan Luna from the moment he left his place of employment until he ended up stabbed and slashed in a murky creek still remains a mystery.
In 2006, The Lancaster Sunday News pointed out that the reward for information in the Luna case is $100,000 while the reward for information in the Seattle shooting of another U.S. attorney, Thomas Wales, was $1 million. They also added: “Isn’t Jonathan Luna as important a person as Thomas Wales? It wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Mr. Luna had dark skin and Mr. Wales had white skin, would it?” They also questioned whether somebody in the government has something to hide.4
While the FBI ascertains that Luna ended his own life, this leaves a plethora of unanswered questions. For one, how could he have driven approximately 95 miles without his glasses? Why did he switch from using his E-Z Pass to toll tickets? Was somebody unfamiliar with his E-Z Pass driving his car? Why would he have stabbed himself 36 times as well as slashing his scrotum, throat, and hands? How did he stab himself in the back? What would motivate him to end his life when he was known by all to be an upbeat, full of life, family man? And finally, why exactly is the FBI so intent on trying to convince us that Jonathan Luna killed himself?
- Columbia Flier, 18 December, 2003 – “Friends Family Pay Tribute to Slain Prosecutor”
- New York Post, 6 December, 2003 – “U.S. Attorney Stabbed 36 Times”
- The Sun, 18 April, 2004 – “Luna Reportedly Feared Losing Job”
- The Lancaster Sunday News, 10 December, 2006 – “A Matter of Homicide”