When free climber Geoffrey Farrar was found bleeding from his head at the base of a cliff in Maryland on December 28, those who knew him believed the 69-year-old was the victim of a fatal accident near the Carderock Park in Montgomery County. However, an autopsy has since revealed that the blows to his head were not from a fall but from a claw hammer found nearby.
Two other climbers saw David DiPaolo running up a trail before finding Farrar's body nearby. The injured man was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he then died. Nine days later, the U.S. attorney's office arrested David DiPaolo in New York and charged him with manslaughter.
Federal authorities alleged Farrar was killed by DiPaolo during a dispute. Court documents quote DiPaolo telling police that he acted in self-defense after Farrar choked him. The accused has agreed to return to Maryland to stand trial.
David Giacomin, with the American Alpine Club, told local media: "We all know Dave very well. We all know Geoff very well. They've known each other for years and years and years, and it was a total shock."
The two men reportedly shared a mentor-mentee relationship that spanned two decades. DiPaolo's father told the Washington Post that his son met Farrar when he was just an 11-year-old boy interested in climbing. The two reportedly had a falling out after Farrar blamed DiPaolo for mistakes that caused another climber to fall off a safety line.
"Both had admiration for each other." DiPaolo senior told the Post. "[David] is no murderer. If he had to defend himself, then, yeah, he would defend himself."