The 27-year-old was killed in the early morning hours of July 8 as he walked home in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Bloomingdale. At the time, his mother told reporters that Seth was likely the victim of a robbery gone wrong.
“There had been a struggle. His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything,” his mother, Mary Rich, told NBC News.
“They took his life for literally no reason. They didn’t finish robbing him, they just took his life,” she added. “They hurt the community, and they hurt the long-term possibility of what he could have done.”
But as police have struggled to find leads in the case, a somewhat bizarre conspiracy theory has surfaced regarding the murder of Seth Conrad Rich. A number of far-left and even far-right political blogs theorized that Rich — who worked on voter data — may have been a whistleblower threatening to expose election fraud carried out to help Hillary Clinton win the Democratic primary.
Some of these conspiracy theories were fueled by what appeared to be intentional misinformation. A site called YourNewsWire identified Rich as a “whistleblower” who was exposing election fraud, but offered no evidence to back up the assertion that he was either a whistleblower or had any knowledge of fraud.
“A Democratic National Committee (DNC) official who worked on exposing recent election fraud during the Democratic primaries was found murdered this week.
“Seth Conrad Rich was the Voter Expansion Data Director at the DNC and had been working on exposing the recent cases of election fraud and voter suppression during the recent primaries around the country.”
YourNewsWire has been responsible for a number of clearly incorrect stories, including one that the FBI admitted to knowing that Adolf Hitler escaped death and was living in Argentina.
The Seth Rich murder theory dovetailed with another conspiracy theory floating around that there was rampant election fraud in the Democratic primary. A handful of groups and individuals have claimed that there were astronomical differences between exit polling and actual results, and a group called Election Justice USA is even pursuing a federal lawsuit.
But there is no actual evidence of the election fraud, and much of the evidence contradicts the theory that either Hillary Clinton or someone working on behalf of Hillary Clinton is responsible. For example, one of the main incidents cited by those claiming election fraud was a purge of voters in Brooklyn. When the tens of thousands of wrongly purged votes were finally counted, however, they showed that Hillary Clinton lost more votes than Bernie Sanders.
Much of the election fraud conspiracy theory also relies on a misunderstanding — perhaps purposeful — about the nature of exit polling. While exit polls in some other countries are used as a way to check that no fraud had taken place, in the United States this polling is conducted by media outlets for the purpose of collecting demographic information about voters, and is not meant to serve as a way to check election fraud.
Despite the obvious red flags, many people are still pushing conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Conrad Rich. As Heat Street noted, many of the theories are originating from the site Reddit.
“Shortly after the killing, Redditors and social media users were pursuing a ‘lead’ saying that Rich was en route to the FBI that fateful morning, apparently intending to speak to special agents about an “ongoing court case” possibly involving the Clinton family.
“Further ‘investigation’ dug up no such court case and there is no evidence whatsoever that Rich, who did voter outreach work for the DNC, had any knowledge of alleged Clinton misdeeds.”
Others on Reddit’s Donald Trump board theorized that Seth Rich may have been the person who gave WikiLeaks access to 30,000 emails from the DNC server, which WikiLeaks recently published.
While the conspiracy theories may be off the mark, there is a real-life mystery surrounding the murder of Seth Conrad Rich. Police in Washington say they don’t have any update on the case and have not yet identified any suspects.