(WB) D.C. police investigators have contacted the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit for assistance in a widely reported case in which a 34-year-old gay attorney for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration was found dead with no visible signs of injury inside a car parked on 8th Street, N.W.
Police have said D.C. resident Daniel Potucek was found unconscious sitting in the front passenger seat of a Mazda SUV parked in front of a row house at 2004 8th St., N.W., at about 7:40 a.m. on Saturday, March 31, by a pedestrian.
People who knew Potucek have posted messages on social media, including Facebook, saying he was gay and patronized at least one of four gay clubs located within two blocks of where his body was found.
A police report says when police officers and an ambulance arrived on the scene they found no signs of life for the then-unidentified male inside the vehicle. Police have said the man was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, where an autopsy was conducted.
The police report says the SUV belongs to someone else who told news media outlets he left it in the location where it was found the night before when he and a friend decided to take a cab home after patronizing a restaurant and some of the nearby clubs.
The vehicle’s owner, D.C. resident Alexander Maclennan, told police he did not know Potucek and had no idea how Potucek found his way inside the vehicle sometime during the night prior to when he was found dead. When Maclennan arrived at the scene after being contacted by police he observed that the vehicle’s glove compartment had been damaged at some point after he left it parked on the street the night before, according to the police report.
In the days following the discovery of Potucek’s body his mother told NBC 4 News and Fox 5 News that police told her they found no identification documents such as a driver’s license or credit cards or a wallet in her son’s possession when they found him.
Although police have not publicly disclosed how they ultimately identified the deceased man as Daniel Potucek, a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner’s Office told the Washington Blade that a fingerprint check was conducted at the time of the autopsy. The spokesperson, Beverly Fields, said she didn’t have access to records stating how the fingerprint check led to Potucek, but she said the prints would have had to match fingerprints for Potucek taken at an earlier time.
As an employee at the Transportation Security Administration, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Potucek would most likely have been fingerprinted as part of the routine process for obtaining a security clearance, according to people familiar with the security clearance process.
As in all cases of an unexplained death with no signs of injury, the police Homicide Branch, which investigates such cases, is awaiting results of the autopsy and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death. Fields said the findings of the autopsy and results of toxicology tests were pending and she could not say when they would be completed.
Potucek’s mother, Lorinda Potucek, told NBC 4 News that she has many questions about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her son’s death, including how he got into a car that belonged to someone else.
“I’ve been told that somebody put him in that car” and that the car door had been unlocked, she told NBC 4 reporter Pat Collins. “We all think, with beyond a reasonable doubt, that there’s more to this story,” News 4 quoted her as saying. “Daniel always has made it home.”
In addition to Town nightclub, the gay bars located within a two block area from where Potucek was found dead in the early morning of March 31 are Nellie’s Sports Bar, the Dirty Goose and Uproar.
Potucek’s LinkedIn page, which was still online as of late this week, shows he was a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he received his law degree; and received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in the field of international comparative studies. He has worked at the Department of Homeland Security as an attorney-adviser since 2013, his LinkedIn page says.
It says among the causes he cares about were arts and culture, human and civil rights, the environment and economic empowerment.
— Lou Chibbaro Jr., Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.