How the D.C. family brutally killed in their home spent their final days (2024)

Savvas and Amy Savopoulos cheered their 10-year-old son, Philip, in early May as he indulged an obsession with racing go-karts. Around the same time, Philip and his two teenage sisters cuddled up together to watch “Finding Nemo.”

On Mother’s Day, Amy Savopoulos received a Facebook message from one of her girls: “You are so tolerant and understanding. Thank you for always being there when I need you.” The mother replied her daughter was “pure sunshine.”

They were the kind of tranquil, joyful and ordinary moments that a close-knit family takes for granted. They would be among the last shared by the Savopoulos clan.

Four days after the Facebook messages on May 14, the family's stately home in one of D.C.'s most expensive neighborhoods was torched. The bodies of Savvas, Amy, Philip and their housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, 57, were found inside. They had been beaten and stabbed.

Authorities said the victims were held for 19 hours while one or more kidnappers waited for a $40,000 ransom. A week later, Daron Dylon Wint, 34, a former employee of a Savopoulos company, was arrested and charged with murder as part of an ongoing investigation.

Police: Suspect in killing may not have acted alone

Mystery still surrounds aspects of the gruesome crime, but interviews with friends, co-workers and neighbors have brought the Savopoulos family and their final days into focus. Savvas, 46, was remembered as a shrewd businessman and proud father. Amy, 47, threw herself into caring for the kids and the issue of childhood concussions. Philip was bright and savvy — “10 going on 35” as a coach put it.

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The slayings brought to an abrupt end lives full of budding projects and passions: a new martial arts studio, a nascent go-kart racing hobby and a search for college for a daughter.

The family will be buried on Monday.

Friends said the loss is all the more unfathomable because the Savopouloses appeared to many to be a model family.

“When something like this happens, it’s tragic,” said Mike Manatos, who served as an altar boy with Savvas as a teen and reconnected with the family in recent years. “When it happens to a couple that is living life the way it should be, it’s profoundly disturbing.”

Couple went to same schools

Amy and Savvas Savopoulos came from different backgrounds, but crossed paths early. He was a fifth-generation Washingtonian who was the son of a well-to-do president of a local metalworks company. She was a self-described “Army brat” who was born in Massachusetts and moved frequently.

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They both attended Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Md., in the 1980s and then the University of Maryland, where a friend said Savvas spent years pursuing Amy. He was described as popular and outgoing. She as beautiful, sweet and shy.

“He never really had eyes for anyone else but her,” said Amy’s sorority sister Kimberly Ford. “But she would not go out with him.” Finally, around the time of their graduation in 1990, she agreed. “I remember thinking, ‘Thank God!’ ” Ford said.

The couple married in June of 1994 at a large Greek wedding in Potomac, after Savvas graduated from American University’s law school. The couple settled into life as a young, wealthy Washington couple: Instead of practicing law, Savvas went into the family business at American Iron Works in Hyattsville, Md.

Their first daughter, Abigail, was born in 1996, followed by Katerina in 1998. By 2001, the young family had moved into a $3 million, 8,000-square-foot home on Woodland Drive near the Washington National Cathedral and the vice president’s residence.

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Friends described the Savopoulos marriage as close and happy. “They were one of the most solid couples you could imagine,” said one of Amy’s best friends. “Savvas worshiped Amy.”

Obituary: A ‘devoted couple in love’

The girls were enrolled at Beauvoir, the private elementary school affiliated with the exclusive National Cathedral School for girls. Amy was a regular volunteer at the school and was known for her annual holiday gingerbread party — she would bring dozens of the edible houses for her children’s classmates and set out a table of candy and frosting for them to use as decorations.

In 2005, the Savopouloses welcomed a baby boy — Philip, named after his paternal grandfather. He, too, was enrolled in Beauvoir and started at St. Albans for Boys last fall. Abigail recently graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, and Katerina is a junior at the Peddie School in New Jersey. Both daughters were away at school the day of the killings.

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Savvas succeeded his father as president of American Iron Works, which has been involved in some of the region’s most high-profile construction projects. The company helped rebuild the Pentagon after Sept. 11, provided steel for the Nationals’ stadium and helped construct D.C. CityCenter.

“To Philip, it was his pride and joy to have his son take over,” said Jamil Abunassar, a family friend.

Robert Hodge, a former vice president at American Iron Works, said his boss was a “gentle man” who was not an aloof chief executive. Hodge said Savopoulos had an open-door policy and made it a point to meet with workers when he went to job sites. Savvas often showed up to work in jeans.

That human touch was paired with a formidable work ethic and attention to detail, Hodge said. Savvas toiled long hours and had an intimate knowledge of each of the company’s projects. Hodge described Savvas and his father as the soul of the company.

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The elder Savopoulos has stepped back into the role of running the company with Savvas’s death. Hodge said he didn’t know how Philip Savopoulos was coping. Family members declined to comment for this report.

“Losing him is hard to take,” Hodge said. “A little piece of our hearts are gone.”

‘The kids were their lives’

When Mike Manatos’s daughter suffered a concussion earlier this year, he said he was sure to reach out to one person: Amy Savopoulos. She spent long phone calls and e-mails discussing treatment options and recommending an app for the condition.

Amy had become a go-to expert on the topic in her social circles after her own daughters suffered numerous sports and accident- ­related concussions and struggled with symptoms in recent years.

She hosted “Evenings of Awareness” fundraisers for Gerald Gioia and the Children’s National Medical Center’s Safe Concussion Outcome Recovery & Education.

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The Savopouloses also gave generously to Greek-American charities, their children’s schools and the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a global charity that supports hospitalized children and their families.

Manatos recalled a fundraiser for former senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) at the Savopoulos home. He said many people would have left their children upstairs with a babysitter, but the couple let them mingle with the guests.

“They were very proud of their kids,” Manatos said. “The kids were their lives.”

The family also enjoyed the perks of their wealth: art, cars, wine and travel. Beginning in the fall of 2012, Savvas, Amy and Philip — then in second grade — spent a year living in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a longtime Savopoulos family getaway.

They stayed on Hassel Island off St. Thomas and spent the year swimming, sailing and enjoying the tropics.

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It was a comparatively rustic life — to get her son to the private Antilles School, Amy had to row a small dingy across a busy waterway: “It mattered how many ships were in because I had to navigate past the bow thrusters, and it’s a little scary and dangerous,” she wrote on Facebook. “Weave way through the mooring field of sailboats, avoid the day trip pirate ship and party boats, push myself through other boats tied to floating dingy dock jump off, tie off, weave lock to secure and then up floating plank to car in parking lot, and now the 10 minute mountain drive on the wrong side of the road. Did I mention all before 7:30?”

The idyllic sojourn gave way to a busier period back in Washington. The final months saw a number of projects taking shape and coming to fruition for the family. Savvas, who long had an interest in Japanese martial arts, was hurrying to complete a dojo in Chantilly set to open the weekend after he was slain. Amy was preparing for Abigail’s graduation from Mercersburg Academy and touring colleges with Katerina.

After Philip developed an interest in go-kart racing late last year, Savvas sought out a top-notch car and coach for his son. They spent weekends traveling to North Carolina, Indiana and elsewhere for races.

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Jay Howard, Philip’s coach, said the father and son shared a love of speed. Savvas owned a Bentley, Porsche and Range Rover, loved NASCAR and was the only American elected last year as a judge for the International Court of Appeals of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile in Paris, the ruling body for international auto racing.

Philip was quickly picking up the skills to be a good driver, Howard said. But beyond his interest in go-karts, Philip often seemed to be older than his years. Howard recalled a post-race dinner, where Philip waved off a waiter’s offer of bread.

“He says, ‘No, I think I should decline,’ ” Howard remembered. “ ‘I’m trying to watch my carbs.’ ”

During Philip’s final race on May 3, Amy and Savvas went to Phoenix to support him. While rounding the track, Philip slammed his go-kart into the back of another that had stopped.

Howard said Philip suffered a mild concussion and sprained knees. He was taken to the hospital, creating stressful moments for the family.

The next week was spent nursing Philip back to health. Amy’s last post on Facebook came on the night of Monday, May 11: “And little P makes three with concussions,” she told her friends. “First day back to St. Albans on Tuesday. Let’s cross our fingers that it’s a different experience there. #feeling motivated.”

Three days later she, Savvas and Philip would be dead.

How the D.C. family brutally killed in their home spent their final days (2024)

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