Growing up in a rough neighborhood in the South Bronx, Jonathan Luna was no stranger to the violence that disparages entire cities. Though he was not ashamed of his humble beginnings, Luna knew that he had to work hard and study if he ever wanted to break away from the life he knew in order to achieve the life he wanted.
It was his hard work and dedication that would take him through his four years at Fordham University, and later through law school at the University of North Carolina. During that time he also met an equally determined young doctor, whom he married and fathered two children with.
When Luna landed a job working for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, he knew he had finally made it – a great job, an equally successful wife and two great kids – but life would only get better for Luna. In 1999 he applied to become an assistant to the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore, MD. Out of thousands of hopeful candidates, Luna was selected for the position.
Through his work in Baltimore, Luna found himself putting away drug dealers, gang members and sex traffickers, and the case he was working on throughout the evening of December 3, 2003 was no different.
Two men had been accused of running a drug ring from a music studio. Luna had spent that morning and most of the evening working out a plea deal for the defense, which was due to be presented to the judge on the case the following morning. At around 9 PM that night, Luna phoned one of the defense’s lawyers and told him that he was packing up and heading home for the night, but promised the deal would be ready for court in the morning.
At 11:38 PM Luna’s car was logged as having left the parking garage. His glasses and cellphone were later found left on his desk. From there he was tracked to Delaware, where he used his EZ-Pass to enter onto the toll road and withdrew $200 from a rest station ATM at around 1 AM.
Luna’s late night drive continued on. At 2:47 AM Luna purchased a ticket to cross the bridge from Delaware to the Pennsylvania turnpike. From there he traveled along the road until 3:20 AM, when he had to stop for gas at a Sunoco station. 4:04 AM would be the last record of Luna being alive. He exited the turnpike at the Reading-Lansing interchange, spots of blood on the ticket indicating that Luna had sustained some sort of injuries. It wouldn’t be until an hour later when employees of the Sensenig & Weaver Well Drilling company arrived to work that anyone would even realize that Luna had been missing.
Behind the building an employee spotted Luna’s car idling halfway into a stream with the lights still on. Blood was smeared all over the driver’s side door and on the front left side of the vehicle. Face down in the water was the body of Jonathan Luna. He had sustained 36 stab wounds from his own penknife. In spite of the extent of his injuries, his official cause of death was drowning according to medical examiners.
FBI investigators speculated that Luna’s death had been the result of a suicide. Medical examiners weren’t so certain. Defensive wounds found on Luna’s body suggest that his death had been the result of a homicide. Several theories have since been raised on how Jonathan Luna found himself 95 miles away from his home in the heart of Amish Country.
Life in Baltimore wasn’t exactly what Luna had expected it to be. Luna and former U.S. attorney DiBiagio did not see eye to eye, and it was well known around the office that DiBiagio had it in for Luna, according to an article written by The Washington Post. After $36,000 was reported missing from a case that Luna had worked on everyone was ordered to submit to a polygraph test. There has been some suggestion that Luna was in fear of losing his job and had hired on his own attorney.
There were also pressures in his personal life. He and his wife struggled to raise two boys while they both juggled long hours at work. Accounts belonging to Luna on adult websites advertising for sex partners have also suggested that his marriage wasn’t as strong as he would lead people to believe. In addition to raising his own family, Luna was also responsible for caring for his elderly parents. Some say that the stress brought on from his work and home life may have been his motive for suicide.
Another theory that has been raised is that Luna attempted to fake his own kidnapping. Luna stabbed himself with his penknife in order to gain sympathy and deflect attention away from the missing money. William Keisling, who wrote the book “The Midnight Ride of Jonathan Luna” told an ABC affiliate,
“The police reports say there was a pool of blood in the rear passenger seat. So what are they saying … that a U.S. attorney was driving across four states stabbing himself in the back, cutting his throat? Is the Justice Department hiring insane people? It’s ridiculous.”
Keisling, like others who have researched the case say that this was a clear cut murder. A pool of blood found in the backseat of Luna’s car suggests that someone else had been driving the vehicle as Luna bled out in the backseat. Keisling and others, including State Representative Mark Cohen, believe that Luna may have been killed in revenge by someone involved in the drug trade, possibly connected to the case he had been working on the night he went missing.
Unfortunately, it’s been 13 years since the body of Jonathan Luna was discovered and investigators are no closer to answers today as they were back then. The only consensus between those who have followed the case can come to is that the investigation into his death has been sub-par at best. A grand jury was convened in 2009 to conduct their own investigation into Luna’s death, but no report was ever issued. The case is officially still open and being investigated as a homicide in both the state of Pennsylvania and by the FBI. A $100,000 reward is on the table for anyone who can provide information that could lead to a conviction.