- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2003

BALTIMORE — Federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna traveled in recent months to the area of Pennsylvania where his body was found last week, and authorities were not aware of any work-related business that would have taken him to the region.

Investigators also were looking into a credit card Mr. Luna held without his wife’s knowledge and into postings of messages by someone who went by the name of Jonathan Luna in Web sites where people advertise for female sex partners, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Baltimore FBI spokesman Larry Foust said yesterday that investigators were still trying to determine a motive for Mr. Luna’s killing. His body was found Thursday, stabbed 36 times and left face down in a creek.

“This is a full-court press, but we just don’t know. There’s a lot of information and a lot of misinformation out there,” Mr. Foust said. “We have people working nonstop, overturning every stone, going where the facts lead them.”

While a federal law enforcement source said that investigators had found nothing to indicate that the killing was related to Mr. Luna’s work, his father and friends are convinced his death was tied to his career.

Mr. Luna’s father, Paul D. Luna, said authorities are asking questions about his son’s personal life, including his finances, relationships and trips he made in the last month.

Paul Luna, 83, said he had urged his son to return to private practice instead of prosecuting drug dealers and violent criminals. The assistant U.S. attorney had just worked out plea deals in one drug case late Wednesday.

“I was warning him many times,” Paul Luna told the AP. “I’m very positive that this is for his work. I even told that to the FBI.”

He said two FBI agents interviewed him for about three hours Saturday.

The same day, investigators were in Lancaster County, Pa., showing hotel owners pictures of the slain 38-year-old prosecutor. Hotel owners and managers said they were asked to review their guest registers for Wednesday and Thursday nights and asked if they had video security cameras.

Pennsylvania State Police also contacted their counterparts in Delaware on Saturday about the case, said Lt. Joe Aviola, a Delaware State Police spokesman. He did not have any details about what they were looking for in Delaware.

Paul Luna said he told the FBI agents about a planned trip to New York after Thanksgiving, which was the last time he saw his son.

“I reminded him about taking me to New York. He says, ‘Not this week, Dad. I’m sorry, because I have a case. I have to go to Pennsylvania,’” he recalled his son saying. Paul Luna said he didn’t know what the case or trip was related to and that his son rarely told him details about his work.

He said investigators also asked him whether his son had any financial dealings with anyone and whether he was having financial problems.

“I don’t think he was having problems because he was planning to go to the Philippines with me next month,” said the father, who is from that country. “So, if he has problems, why should he do that?”

Friends also said money was never a problem for Mr. Luna. Though he was a successful prosecutor and his wife is an obstetrician, they own modest family sedans.

They bought their Elkridge townhouse for $174,900 in 2000. They talked later about buying a bigger home but decided against it because they would rather spend the extra money on family vacations, neighbor Dana Stango said.

Paul Luna said he gave investigators names of his son’s friends in New York, where his son had been an assistant district attorney in the late 1990s.

He also said he was asked about relationships his son may have had, but said he had no knowledge of any possible extramarital affair. His son appeared to be happily married to his wife, Angela, he said.

“It looked like they were very much in love with each other,” Paul Luna said. He said he saw the couple and their two young sons frequently.

Two of Mr. Luna’s friends in New York also believe his death is connected to his job, though they said he never expressed fear of the people he was prosecuting.

“Those that he was putting away were more likely than personal acquaintances, I think, to take that kind of action,” said Merlin Bass, a New York tax attorney who roomed with Mr. Luna during law school and remained close to him.

Reggie Shuford, another former University of North Carolina law school friend, said he was shocked when he heard investigators were probing Mr. Luna’s personal life.

“It’s absolutely amazing to me,” Mr. Shuford said. “I cannot fathom that.”

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