The parents of Seth Rich, the 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was murdered last summer, have written an op-ed pleading with conservative pundits and conspiracy theorists to stop floating theories about their son’s death.
The 27-year-old Rich, who was a staffer at the Democratic National Committee working on voter expansion data, was shot dead last July in Washington D.C. According to CNN, the local police are investigating his death and have reason to believe it was connected to a robbery.
Online conspiracy theorists along with conservative pundits, most notably Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity, have speculated that Rich could be the source that provided the DNC emails to WikiLeaks, which could have precipitated his murder. Rich leaking the emails, Hannity speculated, would presumably ease pressure on associates of President Donald Trump, who face continuing questions as well as an ongoing FBI investigation about their contact with Russian officials during the campaign.
But Rich’s parents Mary and Joel Rich wrote in the Washington Post Tuesday evening that assertion was false.
“We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth’s murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics,” the Rich’s wrote in the Post. “Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying.”
Fox News published a May 16 article about the investigation into Rich’s murder, speculating that he was connected to WikiLeaks, but they retracted it Tuesday. “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,” The network said in a statement.
Rich’s parents called the ongoing conspiracy mongering a family “nightmare.”
“Seth’s death has been turned into a political football,” they wrote. “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. 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.”
Hannity was still tweeting about Rich as of Tuesday evening, teasing that there would be a “huge announcement” on his show later in the night.
More Must-Reads From TIME
- Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets
- Meet the 2024 Women of the Year
- East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment
- The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap
- Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does
- Column: The New Antisemitism
- The 13 Best New Books to Read in March
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time
Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com