Richard also tended the backyard vegetable garden and flower pots on the back deck. He wasn't as friendly as his wife — though he sometimes shared a morning coffee with other stay-at-home parents.
"Whatever they were doing as spies, when you think about it, that was just their jobs," said Denise's husband, Steve, who works as a bartender near Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
"The guy stayed at home and sent e-mails and had secret meetings or whatever he did in his spy work. But then he was done he was like everybody else — he took care of the kids, he worked the yard, he carried bikes.
"The only difference is that his main office was in Moscow," Steve said.
His daughter, Joelle, 12, looked at her father as if he was from another planet.
One Saturday, her friends, the Murphy girls, were merrily rolling down the street on their bikes; on Sunday their house swarmed with FBI agents, and on Monday, the media arrived in droves.
Little Lisa Murphy was in the house with female agents after her parents were taken away Sunday, almost two hours later Katy, in a bathing suit and carrying a swimming noodle, returned home from a pool party. A woman quickly drove both girls away in a mini-van with tinted windows.
Suddenly everything seemed suspicious in a place where nothing usually is.
The possibility that she was living in a hotbed of espionage was not nearly as disturbing to Amy Bandler, another neighbor, as what might happen to the Murphy girls.
Last week, Katy had received three awards at the Hillside Elementary School's "moving up" ceremony. Next year, she would have been attending Glenfield Middle.
"I'm sick about the children," Bandler said. "What becomes of the spies' kids?"
Most of the 11 alleged spies, like the Murphys, seemed to pass their lives in mundane, suburban anonymity. But being low-key was apparently not a prerequisite of being a covert agent.
According to the FBI, defendant Vicky Pelaez worked as a both a print and television journalist for decades. She had risen to become a columnist for the prominent New York Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario/La Prensa.
In her column, she voiced strong criticism of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America in weekly pieces.
Gerson Borrero, a former editor in chief of El Diario, described Pelaez as soft-spoken but forceful in her opinions and stridently ideological. She stood out too, because she liked to wear traditional Peruvian garb to the office.
"She's emotional and passionate about what she believes in, which makes her a great columnist," Borrero said.
Still, in the crazy quilt of American punditry, her opinions seemed hardly shocking. Pelaez, in fact, had once been kidnapped while working as a television reporter in her native Peru by the communist guerrilla group, Tupac Amaru, and held for 17 hours. She and her cameraman were released after their station broadcast a videotaped message from the guerrillas protesting the alleged torture of members of the group captured by the government.
Pelaez was arrested with her 65-year-old husband, Juan Lazaro, a retired political science professor who has published articles about the role of women in Peruvian revolutionary groups.
The couple's older son, Waldomar Mariscal, told El Diario that the charges were "ridiculous," saying that his parents were so lacking in computer skills that they sometimes couldn't remember how to access their e-mail accounts on Yahoo.
Many of the defendants, ironically, were perhaps most distinguished by their successful pursuit of the American Dream.
Defendants Michael Zottoli, 40, and Patricia Mills, who is about 31, both graduated from the Bothell campus of the University of Washington in 2006 with degrees in business administration.
Ufuk Ince, a former professor, recalled that the couple concentrated on finance, and that Zottoli excelled.
"Because he was in the top part of my class, I knew that he would have good opportunities in terms of corporate finance money management," he recalled.
He called Zottoli personable and charming. "What I mean by that is he was not overbearing. Understated, smiling face, engaged, interested…. It was a pleasant thing to be around this person. There was a permanent smile on his face."
John Evans, manager of the building where the couple last lived in Seattle, said Zottoli drove off each morning in a late model blue BMW to a job at an investment bank. He said Zottoli's wife told him she planned to go back to school. They appeared devoted to a toddler named Kenny.
"Michael and Patricia were a very nice young couple," Evans recalled. "They were so family oriented, you would never think they would be involved in something like, what are they saying, espionage?"
They paid their rent each month in advance with a cashier's check, he said.
In hindsight, however, he now wonders about the couple and little things he noticed about them.
Evans said had initially assigned Zottoli a parking spot that seemed tight. Later, when another slot became available, he offered to let the couple switch because it would be easier to use.
"But they said, no, they had gotten used to this parking spot," he said.
"Looking back, it was a perfect cover," Evans said. "Their car was tucked in, and nobody would be able to tell whether they were home or not."
Times staff writers Kim Murphy in Seattle and Matea Gold in New York contributed to this report.