(JTA) — The parents of Seth Rich say the “family nightmare” persists as conservative news outlets continue to politicize the murder of their son, a Jewish Democratic National Committee staffer killed near his Washington, D.C., home last summer.
Mary and Joel Rich in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Washington Post said their son’s death “has been turned into a political football.” His death sparked several conspiracy theories, including that he was a source for WikiLeaks.
“Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy,” they wrote. “It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us.”
Rich, 27, a Nebraska native, was shot dead while walking home before dawn on July 10, 2016. Police have speculated that he was the victim of a robbery gone awry. Rich’s body was found about a block from his home with his wallet, watch and cellphone still in his possession.
In August, WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 award for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in an interview on Netherlands TV suggested that Rich may have been a source for the leaks clearinghouse, reigniting conspiracy theories.
“(C)onservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel,” Rich’s parents wrote.
They added that detectives inspected their son’s email and computer early in the investigation and found no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with the site.
Last week, Rich’s family called on Fox to retract stories based on unfounded allegations that Rich was targeted because he was a source for WikiLeaks and threatened legal action.
On Tuesday, Fox removed the stories and issued a statement saying “The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed. We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.”
Joel and Mary Rich concluded: “We are asking you to please consider our feelings and words. There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.”