DA's Office Report:
Federal grand jury investigates Luna murder
Posted May 28, 2009 -- More than five years after his violent death, a federal grand jury is at last investigating the murder of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Luna, according to a letter from the Lancaster County PA district attorney's office.
Jonathan Luna in federal courtroom
Responding to a Right to Know Law Request filed by Yardbird Books in April, Lancaster County Assistant District Attorney Susan E. Moyer wrote that our request for information was denied, in part, due to an "open ongoing federal criminal investigation in which the leads are continuously being developed and additionally that the Luna case is part of an open federal grand jury investigation."
On April 22, 2009, Yardbird Books invoked Pennsylvania's new Right to Know Law to request public autopsy and forensic reports of Luna's murder. The unexpected and surprising response contains both good and bad news.
"First, please be advised that the investigation into the death of Jonathan Luna is a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Baltimore Office and the Pennsylvania State Police," ADA Moyer writes. "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the primary investigating agency. The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office has been apprised regarding the investigation by the primary investigating agency only because Lancaster County is the jurisdiction where the death occurred. The Luna death remains an open investigation.
"Your (Right to Know Law) request is denied based on several reasons as detailed herein. First, regarding the autopsy report, the request is denied under the RTK (Right to Know) law and the law enforcement privilege in that this is an open and ongoing criminal investigation. Specifically, conversations with the Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit/Supervisor of the Luna investigation for the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania have revealed that the Luna investigation is an open and ongoing federal criminal investigation in which the leads are continuously being developed and additionally that the Luna case is part of an open federal grand jury investigation afforded secrecy under federal grand jury proceedings. Furthermore, releasing the autopsy report, considering the highly confidential facts within that report, would definitively and negatively impact the Luna investigation currently and into the future.
"Moreover, because the Luna case is an open federal grand jury case, the records and materials of the case are afforded protection of the secrecy of the federal grand jury process which should preclude release under Pennsylvania's RTK law."
The Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit in the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney's Office, mentioned in the letter, is Assistant U.S. Attorney David Webb.
Reached for comment, AUSA Webb responded that, by law, "I can't comment even about the existence of a grand jury." He did express understanding and concern for Luna's plight. "I'm an assistant U.S. Attorney too," Webb said.
'During the administration of former President George W. Bush, the U.S. Justice Department hinted that Luna committed a far-fetched suicide, driving himself across four states in a wildly improbable midnight ride, supposedly stabbing himself dozens of times before throwing himself into an icy stream.'
The secrecy notwithstanding, this seems to be good news for readers of this page, and all who care about the fate of Assistant United States Attorney Luna.
Luna vanished from his desk at the Baltimore federal courthouse shortly before midnight on December 3, 2003. His body was found face down in a Lancaster County PA stream the next morning, covered in stab wounds.
At the time of his vanishing, Luna failed to complete a questionable plea deal designed to prevent a court-ordered investigation into the handling of a drug informant controlled by the Baltimore FBI office.
The bad news is that that Baltimore FBI field office is still charged with investigating itself, and its role, in Luna's disappearance, murder, and the aftermath.
During the administration of former President George W. Bush, the U.S. Justice Department hinted that Luna committed a far-fetched suicide. Luna was said to have driven himself across four states in a wildly improbable midnight ride, supposedly stabbing himself dozens of times before throwing himself into an icy stream.
The press, the public, and Luna's friends and family, were repeatedly told by FBI agents that the case was closed, and that the murder was a suicide, or a matter involving Luna's personal life, and so was not subject to federal investigation. All along, the Lancaster County coroner's office ruled the death a homicide.
The good news is that the Obama Justice Department appears to be taking Luna's murder very seriously.
We applaud all genuine efforts to solve the highly mysterious and violent murder of our fallen public servant Jonathan Luna.