to treat the root cause of cystic fibrosis
in certain patients when it was approved
in 2012. The foundation made its investment in Vertex in exchange for royalty
rights, and it was poised to sell those
rights for $3.3 billion, making it the
nation’s largest disease-focused charity
in terms of assets.
In the days before his wife’s death,
Mattingly had been dealing with a problem at work. Computer equipment had
been purchased but was nowhere to be
found. Foundation executives had uncovered what authorities now believe was a
three-year racket: A pair of employees
had tricked the organization into buying nearly $300,000 worth of electronic
equipment it didn’t need, and then they
turned around and sold it online. Executives suspected that Racca was involved.
The 42-year-old Chevy Chase resident
had been the foundation’s senior systems
engineer for eight years before being promoted to director of network operations
six months earlier. The previous Thursday, Racca’s bosses confronted him about
the missing equipment, and he skipped
work the following day. When Racca
returned on Monday, the day before
the killing, they told him they would be
notifying authorities. Now he’d failed to
show up for work again.
At 1: 13 p.m. that Tuesday, Carolyn
called the Montgomery County police
to report the damage to her car. Offi-
cers arrived, examined the tires and jot-
ted down notes. Police said they drove
around the neighborhood when they left
but found nothing suspicious.
Eighty-one minutes after her call,
authorities received a report of a fire
at the Mattingly home. But as firefight-
ers pulled into the driveway, they saw
no flames, only a trail of smoke rising
from under the garage door and black-
ening the white paint. Muddy tire tracks
on the road connected to a set of ruts
in the couple’s lawn and a broken sec-
tion of their white rail fence, as if a car
had smashed through it and sped away
across the grass.
While some firefighters set up at the
garage, others circled the house to inves-
tigate. The doors were locked. No one
answered when they knocked. Inside,
the lights were on and the TV seemed
to play to no one. Crews stretched out a
line of hose, but when they opened the
garage door they realized they wouldn’t
need it—the blaze was small enough to
douse with a fire extinguisher. Beneath
the flames lay Carolyn’s body.
“That wasn’t a fire fatality,” fire supervisor Jeffrey Ewart wrote in his report.
Medical examiners later concluded that
Carolyn had been shot once in the back
and left to burn in the garage. The bullet punctured both lungs and her heart.
THAT SAME AFTERNOON, another
tragedy was unfolding 2 miles away. A
black Mercedes-Benz on Piney Meeting-house Road careened across the roadway
and climbed up a steep embankment
near the intersection with River Road.
The car barely missed a speed limit sign
as it ripped through three pine trees,
strewing branches in its wake, before it
rammed into a fourth.
When police arrived, they found
Racca dead behind the wheel, a bullet
fired into his mouth. A handgun lay at
his side. Officers couldn’t determine if
he had shot himself before or after his
car hit the tree. An autopsy later revealed
indications of prescription medications
in his blood—the anti-anxiety drug clo-nazepam and the painkiller tramadol—
at levels considered potentially lethal by
Police soon realized that the two
deaths in Potomac that day were connected. The dead man in the Mercedes-
“Could something have been
done to change what happened
that day?” Mattingly wonders.
“I ask myself that question all
(center), his daughter,
Christin, and her
husband, Alex Lewis,
discuss work for The
Luv u Project, the
nonprofit started in