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Latest Victim, a Mother of 2, Had Survived Cancer

Linda Franklin, 47, a grandmother-to-be, planned to build dream house with husband.

October 16, 2002|Faye Fiore | Times Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It was hard to find recent photographs of Linda Franklin on Tuesday afternoon; they were packed away in boxes along with everything else. Friday was to be moving day, the first step in a plan to build a dream house with her husband, Ted, in Washington's Virginia suburbs.

The move is what took her Monday night to a Home Depot in nearby Falls Church, where the couple who did pretty much everything together went to buy a few supplies. While he loaded bags into their red convertible, she was cut down by a sniper's single bullet, the 11th victim felled in nearly two weeks and the ninth to die.

The diverse demographics of the victims is taking shape as a chilling portrait of the Washington metropolis -- a cabdriver, a nanny, a landscaper, an entrepreneur, a schoolboy. Linda Franklin fit one significant profile, one of the myriad government workers who labor in the bureaucratic bunkers of Washington and return to the leafy outskirts that have long been presumed safe.

She had been working for four years as an intelligence operations specialist in the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, a joint government and private-sector office charged with protecting U.S. computer networks and the Internet from cyber-attack, espionage and terrorism.

She loved her work, her husband, her children -- a son, 25, and a daughter, 23. She spent weekends snowboarding with her family or tubing down a river. She was crazy about her pets -- two cats and two mutts. And though she hardly looked the part of a grandmother, her daughter was about to make her one, a friend said.

"I loved her. She was fun, vivacious, very active. She was loving and giving," said Peggy Hulseberg, whose husband, Paul, worked with Franklin. "When we first moved here from Oklahoma, she was one of the first friends I made. She made you feel so comfortable."

Franklin had survived a recent battle with breast cancer. At 47, she appeared the picture of health -- blond hair, bright smile, making an already senseless death seem all the more tragic.

"It's terrible to have survived that, only to end up dying this way," said an unnamed official at the FBI. "It's not right."

In a statement released Tuesday, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said the entire bureau mourned her death. "Tragically, a member of the FBI family last night became the latest victim of the Washington, D.C.-area sniper killer," Mueller said. "Linda was a dedicated employee, and she will be missed.... The employees who worked with Linda -- and all of us -- are deeply shocked and angry over this tragedy."

Franklin and her husband, a computer network engineer, were planning to build a home, but in the region's explosive housing market, their two-story condominium sold more quickly than they had expected and they were in the process of moving to temporary quarters. Ted Franklin was next to his wife when she was struck and threw his body over hers.

Tuesday, friends and family filed into the butter-colored condominium with the blue door in a community where the neighbors don't always know each other but the streets are clean and safe.

"The family is devastated by this tragic event ... shocked by this senseless loss of life," said Bill Murray, who works for the FBI division that Franklin served and was acting as a family spokesman to the media clot that formed across the street, waiting to learn more about her.

Franklin's death brought fear to yet another sector of Washington's suburbs, where schoolchildren are no longer allowed to play outside and residents have adjusted their patterns of life. Lately, people duck as they pump gas, shorten the daily walk with the dog, anything to avoid a killer who strikes where life is ordinary and unguarded.

One official said that even FBI agents were altering their daily routines. "You almost have to duck and weave even just to go shopping or walk through a public area," the official said.

On the street where Franklin lived, residents stood in their front yards and stared.

"I just moved here from Boston and I want to go back," 18-year-old Courtney Prowse said, crying. "This is just crazy. It's scary to go to the grocery store. I'm afraid to walk from my car to the house."

Franklin was a graduate of the University of Florida and spent much of her childhood and early adulthood in Gainesville, Fla. Her father, Charles W. Moore, said his daughter had taught students at military high schools for the Department of Defense and had traveled to other countries before joining the FBI. He was too overcome to say anything more.

Outside the Home Depot on Tuesday, a line of officers scoured the covered parking deck on hands and knees for evidence, and a truck towed away Linda Franklin's red car.

*

Times staff writers Josh Meyer and Eddy Ramirez contributed to this report.

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