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Image Credit: Fox News/Independent Journal Review

The family of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich strongly refuted a shocking report suggesting he was in contact with WikiLeaks before his death. The report, based on the unconfirmed claims of a private investigator, ignited new conspiracy theories about Rich's tragic murder on social media.

Rich was gunned down on a Washington, D.C., street close to his home in what police believe was possibly a botched robbery.

In a statement released through a spokesperson, the family said the private investigator behind the new report was “paid for by a third party” and is “contractually barred from speaking to press or anyone outside of law enforcement or the family unless explicitly authorized by the family.”

The statement reads in part:

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. 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. We are a family 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 private investigator, identified as former homicide detective Rod Wheeler, told Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., that his sources have “confirmed” information exists that links Rich to WikiLeaks. However, he did not provide any evidence to back up his enormous claim.

Wheeler also claimed a “source inside the police department” told him police were told to “stand down” on the case. D.C. police strongly refuted that allegation as well.

Wheeler vowed to produce more evidence on Tuesday.