The family of a Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot and killed in Washington last summer denied a report that their son leaked more than 44,000 emails to WikiLeaks before his death.
"As we've seen through the past year of unsubstantiated claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press," the family said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "Even if tomorrow, an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered and we've seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so."
Earlier Tuesday, Fox News reported that 27-year-old Seth Rich may have been the one who leaked information about the DNC to WikiLeaks that showed, among other things, that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary.
The report states federal law enforcement investigators found 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between DNC leaders from January 2015 to May 2016 were sent by Rich to Gavin MacFayden, an American reporter and WikiLeaks director based in London who is now dead. That information was found in a FBI forensic report on Rich's computer done within days of his murder.
Later in the day, Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman told NBC News the Fox News report was bogus. Bauman said Ed Butowsky, a conservative Dallas-based financial adviser, reached out to the family months ago with an offer to pay for a private investigator to look into Rich's death.
The family agreed and paid Rod Wheeler, a former D.C. homicide detective, to look into the July 10 murder.
"My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks," Wheeler told Fox News. "I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sits on his computer on a shelf at the D.C. police or FBI headquarters."
Bauman, trying to separate the family's views about their son's death from the hired detective's claims, shared Butowsky's role with NBC.
"We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers," the family's statement continued. "The services of the private investigator who spoke to the press was offered to the Rich family and paid for by a third party, and contractually was barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family."
A former law enforcement officer with firsthand knowledge of the investigation on Monday said Wheeler's claim about Rich's laptop was incorrect because the device had been searched and yielded no emails related to WikiLeaks. In addition, the FBI never looked over the evidence.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia, not Rich, hacked into the DNC and allowed that information to be sent to WikiLeaks.
Wheeler added he believes someone in the D.C. government, DNC or in Clinton's camp is blocking the investigation.
Rich was killed as he walked home in D.C.. He was shot twice in the back but wasn't robbed. His wallet, cellphone, keys, watch and necklace were all left on him.