Police originally believed it to be an accident, but now a Maryland man is charged with manslaughter in the death of a fellow rock climber at Carderock Park in Montgomery County.
Authorities had thought the death of a Virginia rock climber last month was a terrible accident. But now, they say a fellow rock climber killed the man, striking him with a claw hammer, after an argument near a popular rock-climbing park.
David DiPaolo, 31, of Bristow, Va., has been charged with manslaughter in the death of Geoffrey Farrar, 69, of Arlington.
Farrar was found with massive head injuries at the bottom of a cliff at Carderock Park, just south of Potomac, Md., Dec. 28. He was airlifted to a Bethesda hospital, where he died later that day.
DiPaolo has now told investigators that he and Farrar got into an argument in Carderock's parking lot, and that when he later encountered Farrar at the bottom of a cliff, Farrar began choking him.
DiPaolo said the two fell to the ground, and that he reached for a claw hammer, striking Farrar in the head until he let go of his neck, according to a police document.
Witnesses reported seeing DiPaolo running up a trail and leaving in a minivan shortly before they found Farrar's body.
Police say DiPaolo drove to upstate New York, where he made a phone call at a gas station to his father's nearby home.
The following day, an autopsy showed that Farrar's injuries were inconsistent with a fall. He had "numerous open fractures to the skull," according to a police document.
DiPaolo was arrested in Glen Falls, N.Y., last week and charged with manslaughter.
Acquaintances say the two men knew each other for years.
"They were different generations, but one common place that they loved, which was Carderock," said Dave Giacomin, a rock climbing club official.
After his arrest, DiPaolo told police, "I'm sorry this happened. I didn't want this to happen."