MIDLOTHIAN, Tex. — The word ran through the school that something was going to happen to the narc. Someone was going to take care of him.
The talk filtered through the football stands the next evening, a Friday, as the Midlothian High Panthers were losing to the Red Oak Hawks. Tonight was the night for the narc.
But the rumors sounded like teen-age bravado; they never caught the ear of anyone who believed them to be more.
Late in the afternoon the next day, the search helicopter hovered over the ground where a body lay beside a red pickup truck. George Raffield, who had posed as a student and was known to his classmates for the last two months as George Moore, had been killed with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.
The bragging had been real. The undercover cop was dead.
In a matter of hours, police arrested two teen-agers--one of them the son of a veteran Dallas policeman--and charged them with the Oct. 23 murder. In the days after the slaying, the story that unfolded was full of twists, including talk of devil worship. But the most lasting impression was of the senselessness of the killing. What left this nondescript little town perplexed was that a rookie cop was dead for no reason.
The two boys accused of killing Raffield had certainly not been in great legal peril. Even if they had been arrested and convicted on minor drug charges, the consensus is that they would have gotten off with probation.
And Raffield would have been gone from the school soon anyway because his cover was already blown.
Now, both teen-agers await trial in the Ellis County Jail in neighboring Waxahachie. Each one says that the other pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Raffield as he stood next to his truck. And people in Midlothian talk about how only a small break in the chain of events might have prevented a tragedy.
"There's so many little bitty things that add up to a big thing--a killing," said Justice of the Peace Glen Ayers, sitting in his storefront office on Midlothian's main street. "There's 9 million little things that make the mountain."
Raffield's mother, Shirley Moore, wonders daily why her son was killed.
"That's the question I will ask myself until the day I die," she said.
Midlothian, a bedroom community 25 miles south of Dallas, was named by a Scottish railroad engineer after his home county. In recent years, an increasing number of city dwellers have moved here as the Dallas-Fort Worth sprawl inched southward.
The high school, which had fewer than 300 students 15 years ago when Principal Wilburn Roesler first arrived, has 760 today. (Roesler, incidentally, never knew that there was a policeman posing as a student in his school.)
One small but telling incident that may have set the chain of events in motion occurred last summer, when the City Council endorsed the principle of taking a tough stand on drug abuse. Not that anyone believed Midlothian High School was a hotbed of drug abuse.
Roesler's reckoning is that there was only a handful of students who used drugs. Police Chief Roy Vaughn said much the same thing. But both believed in the credo: "If you've got one kid on drugs, you've got a problem."
After the council acted, Raffield was hired by the Police Department as part of the plan to begin an undercover operation. He was 21, but looked younger, especially after he shaved his wispy mustache. He had already completed police training at a junior college and had been a patrolman in the tiny town of Wilmer.
Raffield was told his first assignment would be at the high school and was sent off to Dallas to learn undercover work.
"In a sense," Vaughn says in retrospect, "it was a fact-finding operation to see if we did have a problem."
One other thing happened in Midlothian last summer: Richard Goeglein, 17, moved to town with his family from Williams, Ariz. Richard was an almost frail-looking boy with longish hair. There seemed little to distinguish him in the crowd.
But after the killing, his past bore some scrutiny. Law officers in Arizona told how, in a parents' ranch, a 16-year old boy was bludgeoned with a baseball bat by another teen-ager last June. The boy was in a coma for nine days and an 18-year-old named Frank Ross was charged with attempted murder.
Jeff Green, a Flagstaff, Ariz., sheriff's detective, said Richard is a witness in the case, not a suspect.
Green also said the three were listening to the heavy metal band "Slayer" when the beating began. In Midlothian, after Raffield was killed, some who knew Richard Goeglein would say that he worshiped the devil, talked earnestly to an amulet he called "Terry the heart" and left a book at a friend's titled "The Modern Witch's Spell Book."
One of those Richard met in the new Midlothian environment was 16-year-old Greg Knighten, the son of an 18-year veteran of the Dallas police force. Three years earlier, his family had moved to Midlothian and Greg found that he was behind the other students at the local high school.