David DiPaolo charged with manslaughter

Carderock is an area within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. Photo: Brianne Carter.

CARDEROCK, Md. (WJLA) - A Virginia rock climber has been charged with manslaughter after allegedly attacking a man with a claw hammer at Carderock Park in Montgomery County.

Geoffrey Farrar, 69, was such a fixture at the park that his nickname was "Carederock Geoff."

Farrar was reportedly a free climber, meaning he often climbed rocks without the safety of a rope. So when his body was found at the base of Carderock on December 28, it was first believed to have been a tragic accident.

But U.S. Park Police later learned that it was no accident, and arrested another climber named David DiPaolo -- also known as David Jennings -- last Thursday and charged him with killing Farrar. Now, the local rock climbing community has been left reeling.

"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," said David Giacomin with the American Alpine Club.

Court records detail what police believe happened that day. Witnesses told them they saw Farrar and DiPaolo arguing in the parking lot. One witness later found Farrar with major head trauma and saw 31-year-old DiPaolo running up the trail.

The next day, DiPaolo left his father a voicemail, and police traced it to a gas station in Chatham, New York. Ten days later, DiPaolo was taken into custody during a routine traffic stop in Glens Falls, New York,

DiPaolo was reportedly well-known at the Rock, and described as an unbelievably talented climber.

Court records revealed during questioning that DiPaolo admitted to the argument and said the next thing he remembers is being choked by the victim and losing consciousness. When he found a silver-color claw hammer on the ground nearby, he said he used it to strike Farrar in the head. He said he was sorry this had happened and that he had no idea it was going to happen.

According to witnesses, the two had known each other for decades.

The victim was airlifted to Suburban Hospital, where he later died. Medical examiners say he had multiple, similar wounds to the skull.