Joel and Mary Rich were devastated to learn of their son Seth Rich’s murder in July 2016. The 27-year-old seemingly had the perfect life working in politics, only for it to end on a walk back home one night. While the parents still reeled from the loss, the wild conspiracy theories regarding Seth’s death that ensued made things far worse for them. The second episode of Netflix’s ‘Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet’ is titled ‘A Murder in D.C.’ and features Seth’s parents talking about how they dealt with it. So, if you’re curious to find out more about Joel and Mary, here’s what we know.
Who Are Joel and Mary Rich?
During the early hours of July 10, 2016, Seth was walking back home from a local bar in Washington DC when he was shot to death. A few hours prior, he called his father, but Joel was already sleeping and didn’t pick up. Later, Seth was on the phone with his girlfriend, who heard a noise on the other end. However, he said it was nothing to worry about, with the call ending soon after. Seth was shot just moments after speaking to his girlfriend.
Joel remembers Seth fondly, saying he wanted to make the world a better place and concentrated on politics, his career choice. At the time, Seth was working for the Democratic National Committee. According to the family, he was offered a job on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The authorities believed that Seth was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. Joel stated at the time, “If it was a robbery, it wasn’t successful because the police have all his belongings — cell phone, wallet, credit cards, money.”
Joel and Mary also discussed seeing surveillance camera footage from a store in the area. The video showed Seth falling and the legs of two people leaving, possibly the killers. But weeks later, several conspiracy theories began making the rounds, with allegations regarding Seth’s link to WikiLeaks, which leaked thousands of DNC’s private emails.
Right-wing media picked it up and soon broadcasted the news despite no verifiable evidence connecting Seth to the leaks. In a joint statement, Joel and Mary said, “Conservative 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.” They further believed that some people were using Seth’s murder for their political agendas.
Where Are Joel and Mary Rich Today?
Joel and Mary Rich then sued Fox News, who published the story, for purported intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mary said, “I want the people who started the lies, who are responsible for the lies, held accountable. This has got to stop in America, and we’re going to try to help stop it.” Joel added that the conspiracy theories made it difficult for the family to grieve Seth’s loss. The couple further stated that they had to deal with PTSD, OCD, and social anxiety.
In November 2020, Fox News settled the case with Joel and Mary, and while the amount was not disclosed, it was mentioned on the show that it was in a seven-figure settlement. Today, Joel and Mary still live in Omaha, Nebraska. There, Joel has been an Account Executive for nearly nine years. On the other hand, Mary hadn’t been able to work since the whole ordeal and said that a preexisting neurological condition was aggravated. Before that, she was employed as a Business Development Manager for a staffing agency.
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