It is nothing but an open field, a nondescript place beside a row of battered mailboxes along Seeton Road near Joe Pool Lake. But for months, it has been a site of pilgrimage for Adrianne Jones' friends. They have visited the field dozens of times since Jones' brutal murder last year, searching for answers--even clues to the identity of her killers.
The grass is now green where Jones' body once lay, and all traces of her blood have washed away. Mansfield police are certain they've found Jones' killers: two former honor students, David Graham and Diane Zamora, both 18. The two have been arrested and charged with capital murder. Police have also named a motive: Adrianne Jones evidently had trespassed on Graham and Zamora's obsessive love affair with each other, and the only honorable solution, in the teen lovers' eyes, was blood atonement.
It doesn't make any sense to Jeff Lackey, 17, who was once one of Adrianne Jones' closest friends. His voice no longer trembles when he talks about the girl he knew for 10 years, the first friend he made when his family moved to Mansfield. But that's only because the hurt--and the feelings of confusion and betrayal--have settled in so deep.
When Lackey heard about the murder, he skipped out of class at Mansfield High School, where both Adrianne Jones and David Graham were classmates, and drove to the spot of the December 4, 1995, killing.
"You could almost see an outline of her body in the grass," Lackey remembers. "The grass was just soaked in a crimson color."
With two sticks and strands of red wire, Lackey fashioned a cross and attached it to the barbed-wire fence near where Adrianne's body had lain.
But his attempt somehow to dignify the murder of his 16-year-old friend was short-lived. Within hours, Grand Prairie police had dismantled the crude cross, taken it to the station, and dusted it for fingerprints, believing it might have been left by Adrianne's killer.
Even so, Lackey returned a few days later to the empty field, along with his next-door neighbor and friend, Jessica Ramon, and Adrianne's mother, Linda Jones.
"Linda just felt like they missed something," says Jessica Ramon, 20, who lives with her parents and her 2-year-old baby girl in a tidy, modest house in Mansfield. She speaks with a soft voice. "I remember being scared and being cold and shaking, because Jeff and I were blowing smoke and our noses were red. I felt really dumb, like we were crazy people looking through weeds."
They didn't find the diamond stud earring missing from Adrianne's ear, or the gold necklace she'd worn with the letter "A" pendant, or any other clues. But something kept drawing them to the site, and Jeff and Jessica made the journey to that field several more times during the winter and spring. Adrianne's mother also visited regularly, spreading dried flower petals where her daughter's body was found.
Today there is still a depression, covered with shoots of grass, where Adrianne's head came to rest. Police had turned over the bloody earth with a shovel when they'd concluded their investigation of the crime site.
"The blood was right...see where that hole is over there? They turned the dirt there," Lackey says, lighting up a Marlboro and leaning on a fence post during a visit to the site last month with his friend Jessica.
"And some of the leaves were smushed--like you could tell something had been there--and there was a lot of blood on leaves and stuff by that hole."
Jessica, her wavy brown hair tousled by the Texas winds, steps over to the fence and pulls on something that resembles a strand of long, blond hair caught on the barbed wire. "Look at this," she says. "Weird."
She tugs on the taut wires. They were slack when Adrianne's body was found just a few yards beyond it. "A year ago, the barbed wire was all smashed down and pulled out to here," Jessica says.
Whether Adrianne stumbled across the barbed wire while trying to escape her killers, or whether her body was tossed over and caught on the fence--as Jeff and Jessica speculate today--may never be known. But tiny puncture wounds on her legs indicated that the only struggle that took place that evening was that of her body with a fence.
"We would sit around for hours, talking about it, looking for answers," says Jeff, tossing down his cigarette and crushing it with the toe of his hiking boot.
"And now we still do, and there's less questions, but more confusion," Jessica says.
"There's different questions," Jeff adds. "We were all doing a lot better until this happened," he says, referring to the September arrests of David Graham and Diane Zamora. "She'd call me crying, and I'd call her crying."
"I've never seen a guy cry so much, like Jeff cried," Jessica says.
"I remember falling down on the ground, just curled up in a little ball, crying," says Jeff. "It tore me up bad. She was the first person I ever cared about a lot."
Today, Jeff wears a black band around his soccer shoe in memory of Adrianne. "We will never totally forget about it, but we can start to let go when the whole thing in court is finished," he says.
Jessica agrees, but adds that the arrests of Graham and Zamora, and the gruesome details of the murder, have only stirred up new emotions. "Now, most of my questions have been answered, but there's confusion," she says. "It's not really the hurt anymore, it's anger. I'm confused and angry."
Says Jeff: "I think what infuriates me the most about the entire situation is, while we're here struggling in school to keep our sanity, he [Graham] was sitting next to us and walking around us. And none of us had the slightest clue that it could've been him. He put us all through so much pain, and I hope he saw it and realized that he was the cause of it."
The arrests of Graham and Zamora last month made headlines throughout the country. People seized upon the details of the couple's twisted love affair and their bizarre notions of honor--as revealed in a florid confession to Jones' murder penned by Graham. Police say Zamora has also confessed to the crime.
At the time of the arrests, Graham was a first-year cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and his fiancee, Diane Zamora of Crowley, was a first-year midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The two are now being held in the Tarrant County Jail.
The teen lovers were arrested on September 6 after Zamora confided to fellow midshipmen that she had participated in a murder with her boyfriend. The midshipmen told academy authorities, who then contacted Grand Prairie police.
The story of Adrianne Jones' murder has become part of Mansfield teen folklore; kids obsess about the details of the crime as if they were unraveling a plot from The X-Files. Listen to them talk about the circumstances surrounding Adrianne's death, and, in breathless tones, they'll also regale you with tales of other violent deaths in Mansfield, a semirural, working-class town of 22,246 in southeast Tarrant County.
There's the case of Dorothy Robards, the 16-year-old who poisoned her father three years ago by slipping barium acetate--stolen from the Mansfield High School chemistry lab--into his refried beans. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Then just last month, there were two violent deaths of Mansfield High teens--17-year-old Robin Graham (no relation to David Graham) in an apparent suicide, and Abraham Solorio Jr., 18, in an accidental shooting.
But the case of Adrianne Jones' murder is different.
This seemingly nonsensical tale of young love gone amuck touches on all the anxieties of Mansfield youths. Not quite adults, they find themselves dealing with adult problems: sexual jealousy, pressures to achieve, violence. They flaunt their sexual freedom, yet talk about beating each other up for infidelities, and using guns to settle disagreements.
The seemingly cold-blooded killing of Adrianne Jones has left many people wondering how two kids with so much promise could commit such a horrifying crime. But while Mansfield teens say they're shocked and angered by the discovery that one of their own classmates is accused of the murder, the overall impression they leave is one of emotional numbness.
Listening to their detached, hollow voices is both bleak and surreal--almost as haunting as Adrianne Jones' murder itself.
From the moment the two 14-year-olds met at a Civil Air Patrol meeting at Spinks Airport near Crowley, sparks were ignited. David Graham of Mansfield was passionate about flying; he'd felt that way ever since he saw his first air show as a first grader. Diane Zamora, a striking brunette from Crowley, wanted to be an astronaut.
The couple's friendship quickly grew into romance, and Diane vowed to remain a virgin until their wedding night, which they would eventually set for August 13, 2000.
Their first love was passionate and almost unbearingly intense. But it reached a crisis on the night of November 4, 1995--according to Graham's confession--when Graham had a one-night sexual fling with another girl, and felt so guilty about it afterward that he immediately rushed to Diane's arms, seeking absolution for his unprincely behavior.
Far from offering forgiveness or assurances of everlasting love, Diane exploded in rage, Graham recounted in his confession. Like a wounded animal, she lashed out in pain--and offered up a solution for Graham's betrayal of their love. Adrianne Jones, whom David admitted he had sex with that night, must be killed, Diane said, in order to purify their exclusive and chaste relationship.
Four weeks later, on December 4, Adrianne Jones' body was found alongside Seeton Road. She'd been bludgeoned with a barbell and shot twice in the head with a 9mm pistol.
The nightmares have finally stopped for 16-year-old Kristin Clark, and she has quit cocaine, which kept her numb through the spring as she tried to cope with the death of her best friend Adrianne Jones.
Kristin played soccer and shared secrets with Adrianne, and talks about her own harrowing encounter with a onetime lover. Today, she's ready to get out of Mansfield. The lean 16-year-old with green braces works at a hardware store and is saving money for college studies at the University of North Texas in Denton, which she plans to enter a year early, in fall 1997.
Kristin tells how, nearly two years ago, she had sex with a friend's boyfriend. Not long after their sexual encounter, the boy assured her that he was no longer dating his girlfriend. Then one night he rapped on Kristin's bedroom window just after midnight. He talked her into sneaking outside and meeting him in his truck.
The boy had set her up for a bloody beating.
Like Adrianne, Kristin was ambushed. As she opened the passenger door, a crazed 14-year-old girl jumped out swinging a baseball bat. She clobbered Kristin repeatedly in the head.
"[She] was beating the shit out of me and I couldn't move," Kristin recalls, adding that she still wonders why she wasn't killed instead of Adrianne, since the two committed essentially the same transgression--sleeping with another girl's boyfriend. Instead, Kristin was left with a fractured cheekbone, a broken nose, a concussion, and 45 stitches on the back of her head. Plastic surgeons had to rebuild her face.
The girl who beat her got two years' probation for delinquency, and has since dropped out of school.
For a while, the girl was a suspect in Adrianne's murder; she was also known to dislike Adrianne, who'd tattled to school officials about her threats to kill Kristin Clark.
Grand Prairie police, however, struck the girl from their list of suspects after she passed a polygraph test. But Mansfield residents still suspected she was somehow involved in Jones' murder--until Graham and Zamora were arrested.
Now the folks in Mansfield direct their loathing elsewhere.
"I hate David and Diane, and I hate them with a passion," Kristin says.
Adrianne Jessica Jones--"A.J." to her friends--was not a slut, though she was, like many of her 16-year-old friends, sexually active. Friends and co-workers say she was a flirt--a vivacious, outgoing teenager in every way.
The petite, green-eyed blonde with the tiny waist and muscular legs was popular at Mansfield High. Kids enjoyed her infectious laughter and positive attitude; she was known to do anything to put her friends in a good mood.
"She just made herself laugh by being silly," Jessica Ramon says. Most evenings--up until Jones' 10 p.m. curfew, anyway--the two girls would pull a pair of lawn chairs to the edge of the yard at Jessica's house and wait for friends and neighbors to stop by for a chat. On slow nights, Jones would provide the entertainment.
"I'd say, 'Walk like Michael Jackson,' and she'd try her hardest to do a moonwalk, but she was not a very good dancer," Jessica says, smiling at the memory. "She wasn't coordinated. No rhythm. No body movement. But she didn't care what anybody thought."
Jones was, however, an outstanding athlete. She excelled in both soccer and cross-country and was, at the time of her death, waiting for her letter jacket to arrive. A knee injury in 1994 prevented Jones from playing any more soccer, so she signed on as the team's manager and got her kicks from the sidelines. She found other sports to fill the gap--she ran cross-country, signed up for aerobics, and was known to run to and from work.
In the evenings, she'd tie a red-white-and-blue bandanna around her head and walk all three of the Jones family dogs--two German shepherds and a collie--or sometimes just her favorite, the German shepherd pup named Thor.
Adrianne was an honor student at Mansfield High and worked hard at getting good grades. She hoped to attend Texas A&M, and had once talked about becoming a veterinarian. She saved her work money in a red metal mailbox that she kept in her room, and never carried a purse or a wallet. When she went on a rare shopping excursion, she'd pull crumpled dollar bills out of her pockets to pay for whatever she bought.
One of her favorite outfits was a long blue dress that tied at the back of her neck and was patterned with soft white flowers. She wore it without shoes around the neighborhood. "She'd say, 'There are no shoes good enough to go with this dress,'" Jessica recalls. In fact, when Adrianne wasn't wearing her running shoes, she was usually barefoot.
In her room in the modest, four-bedroom house where the Joneses lived, Adrianne would lie on her waterbed, surrounded by soccer posters on the walls, and talk to friends on her Mickey Mouse phone or listen to Pearl Jam, Annie Lennox, or the techno-rave group 2 Unlimited on the stereo she bought from Jessica for $10.
A gregarious and confident teenager, Adrianne had many friends, and was well known throughout Mansfield. Friends say she was careful about her appearance, and always had her nails painted and face made up before she went out--usually with a bottle of mineral water in her hand, her shoulder-length hair bouncing as she walked.
But her smile, townspeople say, is what they'll miss most. "She was my star," says Tina Dollar, manager of the Golden Fried Chicken fast-food restaurant where Adrianne worked. "Adrianne was excellent with customers. She always uplifted everyone around her, including me. She drew this smiley face on the visor she wore."
When the girl who was always joking with customers or firing spitballs through a straw at her fellow workers was killed, a depression descended upon the place, and Dollar says she had to replace her entire staff.
"Nobody was smiling at the customers anymore," she says. "I had to hire a new crew just to get the morale back up."
A trusted confidante whom friends often leaned on for advice, Adrianne's life ended, it appears, because she was trying to answer a cry for help from a friend.
On Sunday, December 3, 1995, Linda Jones had been painting her bedroom all day, and was tired. She had already showered and was in bed watching television when her daughter, Adrianne, came home at 9 p.m. after working a half-day shift at the Golden Fried Chicken down the street, near the high-school football stadium.
Even though it was late, Adrianne wanted to work out, and she enlisted her favorite workout partner--her mother--to go with her to the 24-hour Huguley Fitness Center in Crowley, 16 miles away. Linda Jones remembers well the last conversation she had with her daughter, after their workout on the drive home.
"She said, 'I want to be able to determine how people act the way they do, Mom. What is a person who does that?' I told her that that's a behavioral analyst," Jones says. "That's somebody who takes you aside, studies you, and gives you an analysis of why you behave like you do, and you kind of set them on the right path and get them going. She said, 'That is what I want to be.'"
Because of her interest in psychological matters, Jones figures, Adrianne must have known that something was wrong in David Graham's life.
As if on cue, the phone rang in the Joneses' home at 10:45 p.m., just a few minutes after Linda and her daughter had walked in the door.
"I said, 'Who the hell is that?'" recalls Jones.
"It's David from cross-country," Adrianne replied. "He's upset."
Jones then told her daughter to hang up the phone--that she shouldn't be getting phone calls that late. Adrianne ignored her mom and stayed on the portable phone. She walked down the hall and put a load of laundry, along with her running shoes, in the washer.
"I said, 'Get your butt to bed. I'm tired,'" Jones recalls.
After Adrianne got off the phone, Jones remembers, the teenager acted "antsy."
Unbeknownst to her mother, Adrianne's new boyfriend, 19-year-old Tracy Smith, had beeped in while she was talking to David Graham. Although she told her mother the truth--that David had called--she lied to her boyfriend. She told Smith she was on the other line with a boy who used to have a crush on her, a boy who was rumored to be suffering from depression--a high-school dropout named Bryan McMillen. (McMillen was the first suspect arrested in connection with Adrianne's murder. He was held in the Grand Prairie jail for three weeks, then freed when he passed a polygraph test.)
Adrianne must have figured that Tracy wouldn't be jealous of her talking to McMillan, who was hardly considered a good prospect for a boyfriend. But Graham, a handsome, clean-cut senior, was another story.
And sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., Adrianne sneaked out of the house to meet David. The girl who never left the house without her hair fixed and her make-up on didn't bother to change out of her sweaty gym clothes, flannel shorts, and Mansfield cross-country T-shirt.
Says Jessica: "I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that he [Graham] called her that night and she sneaked out because he told her something on the phone--that he was having problems--and she went to help him, maybe to talk to him and give him advice or something."
While some media reports have suggested that Adrianne was slipping out for another romantic tryst, those who know her don't believe she had sex in mind when she left her house that night, nor was she aware--friends say--that David had a steady girlfriend.
"I know for a fact that if Adrianne had known that Diane was in the picture, she wouldn't have slept with him," Kristin Clark says. "Because I slept with somebody--a guy when he was going out with another girl--and Adrianne was so against what I did. She bitched at me every day for what I did, and told me how dumb I was. So I know she wasn't going to turn around and do it."
Linda Jones says: "She snuck out, but she snuck out to see a friend. She left to talk to David as a friend."
Adrianne walked past her parents' bedroom door that night, and slipped through the front door unnoticed, even though her father was a light sleeper. Stern, strict, and protective of his only daughter, Bill Jones had caught Adrianne sneaking out a few times the week before to meet her boyfriend Tracy. He nailed her windows shut--hoping to stop her late-night forays.
At 6 a.m. the next morning, Linda Jones awoke when she heard the sound of Adrianne's alarm clock. After waiting a few minutes for her daughter to turn off the buzzer, Jones got up, walked into her daughter's room, and found it empty and her bed made. She thought Adrianne might have gone for an early-morning run before school, but when the teenager's ride came by to pick her up for school and she still wasn't home, Jones began to worry. Shortly after 8 a.m., she called Mansfield police, who dispatched an officer to her home a few minutes later to file a missing persons report.
Meanwhile, Grand Prairie police had already answered a call from a motorist who, while on the way to work, had seen what he thought was a body along Seeton Road. When police arrived there, they found Adrianne Jones' fully clad corpse. She was wearing flannel shorts and a gray T-shirt beneath a long-sleeve knit shirt that bore the words "Region I Cross Country Regionals 1995" across the front. She was barefoot.
The Region I Cross Country Regionals, ironically, were held in Lubbock on November 4, the same night Adrianne had sex with David Graham behind an elementary school on the way home from the meet.
According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office autopsy report, Adrianne had abrasions on her neck and chest, a fractured index finger on her left hand, and a series of abrasions and puncture wounds. Her skull was fractured and her brain lacerated, and she had been shot twice in the head.
The next day at school, Mansfield High School principal Jerry Kirby announced that Adrianne had been killed. The day's moment of silence was ob-served in her honor.
OnDecember 7, Jones' family held a private memorial service for Adrianne at the United Methodist Church in Mansfield. Adrianne's favorite song, Annie Lennox's "No More I Love Yous," was played at the end.
A separate service was held a week later at the high school, near the track where Adrianne ran each day. Members of the soccer, cross-country, and track teams, as well as members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mansfield High faculty, watched as students planted a tree in her honor, which the high-school soccer team will look after.
Attending the service was a tearful David Graham.
David Graham's confession--which his attorney now says was coerced by Grand Prairie police after a 30-hour interrogation--would later provide the background and hideous details of Graham and Zamora's alleged murder plot.
On the evening of November 4, according to Graham's confession, which was leaked to the press, David offered to give Adrianne a ride home from the regional track meet in Lubbock, and was surprised as they neared her Mansfield home when Adrianne began asking him to make turns that he knew were out of the way. Eventually, the two cross-country teammates parked behind an elementary school, where, he wrote, they engaged in "sexual activities, short-lived and hardly appreciated.
"The event was meaningless and painful," Graham wrote. "Painful, that is, because I was letting down the one person I had swore to be faithful to."
According to Graham's confession, Diane told him that killing Adrianne was the only way to resolve the problems he'd caused by his sexual indiscretion. He wrote: "Diane's beautiful eyes have always played the strings of my heart effortlessly. I couldn't imagine life without her; not for a second did I want to lose her. I didn't have any harsh feelings for Adrianne, but no one could stand between me and Diane."
Graham wrote that he and Zamora carried out their murder plan on the evening of December 3, when he called Adrianne and drove her to Joe Pool Lake shortly after midnight. What Adrianne didn't know, at first, was that Diane had hid in the back of the hatchback car.
"The plan," David wrote, "was to (and this is not easy for me to confess) break her young neck and sink her to the bottom of the lake with the weights that ended up being hit into her head."
Adrianne fought back, however. "We realized that it was either her or us, and Diane struck her in the back of the head with one of the weights while I held her," David confessed. "Adrianne somehow crawled through the window, and to our horror, ran off. She ran into a nearby field and collapsed. I wanted to just jump in and drive off. We were both shaken and even surprised by the nature of our actions. Neither Diane nor myself were violent people. In that short instant, I knew I couldn't leave the key witness to our crime alive. I just pointed and shot...I fired again and ran to the car."
According to his statement, the first words exchanged after the murder were vows of love, then regret. "The first things out of our mouths were 'I love you,' followed by Diane's 'We shouldn't have done that, David.' I thought, nice time to tell me. I just wanted it to be a dream."
Zamora's statement apparently was even more detailed than Graham's, according to a source at the Grand Prairie police department. She said that on the evening David confessed to his sexual encounter with Adrianne, the lovers had tried to kill Adrianne, but when they called her to set the trap, she wasn't home.
According to the police source, "The whole idea was for David to con Adrianne to go out with him again. He took the weights and a 9mm handgun. David picked up Adrianne in Zamora's car, while she hid in the hatchback. He drove out Seeton Road, and when he stopped the car, Adrianne reclined the passenger's seat. Diane pops out from the hatchback and begins questioning her about having sex with David, to which Adrianne replied that it wasn't any fun."
The police source says that Zamora confessed that she then picked up a weight and began swinging it at Adrianne, missing several times before finally hitting her in the head.
"When Adrianne was able to climb out of the car and began running away, David got out and followed her. Diane says she stayed in the car," the source says. "When David returned, he told her, 'She's dead.' Diane said to him that she [Adrianne] wasn't, and urged him to go check again. That's when David went back and fired two shots into the girl."
Afterward, David and Diane drove to the home of a friend in nearby Burleson, where David cleaned himself up and borrowed a pair of shorts to wear home, the police source says. They tossed David's clothing in a dumpster near Diane's home, then drove to her house, where she cleaned up her car as David vomited. They stayed at her house that night, and David returned the barbells and pistol to his home on Monday.
Friends of the teens, however, say that Zamora and Graham also visited the home of another friend that night, who remarked later that the couple seemed nervous, as though they'd been in a fight. The visit was never mentioned to police.
Mansfield kids say David Graham was no ladies' man, but many girls secretly had a crush on him even though they knew he and Diane were going steady.
"You know, growing up, how your mom tells you about the perfect guy, the perfect gentleman, and there's nobody out there like that? Well, David was. He was one of the last cool guys on earth," says Sarah Layton, an elegant, petite girl clad in a denim minidress.
According to Layton, who served in ROTC with Graham at Mansfield High, lots of girls were infatuated with the goal-driven teenager, who wore a different pair of combat boots each day--often with flannel shorts and a White Zombie T-shirt.
Today, sitting on the steps of the Willie Pigg auditorium at Mansfield High after ROTC color-guard practice, Layton bares her arms, which are covered with scabs from when she fell against the kitchen wall after hearing that her friend had been arrested in connection with Adrianne's murder.
"I screamed at the top of my lungs, dropped the phone, busted out crying, and got up and went to the bathroom and threw up for about a half-hour," she says without emotion, almost in a whisper.
That was at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 6, and Mansfield High's first home football game was set to start within a couple of hours. Layton knew there would be an announcement during the game about Graham's arrest, and wanted to find her friend and ROTC classmate, Joanna Christenson, before word was out publicly.
But Layton couldn't reach her friend by phone, and didn't meet up with her until Christenson was about to walk on the field for the half-time color-guard presentation.
Christenson had already heard the news. As Layton walked up to her friend, she saw that she was in tears. "She was in the middle of the field having a nervous breakdown," Layton recalls. "She got out there and cried through the whole thing."
After half time, Christenson walked off of the field, collapsed on the ground, and sobbed.
Christenson, who looked up to Graham like a brother, still can't figure out how the boy who liked Garfield--and the one they called "Chipmunk" when he smiled--could have been involved in the murder with which he has been charged.
"What do you say?" Christenson says. "One of your really good friends that you looked up to and admired and wanted to follow in his footsteps is now dressed up in orange and stuck in a jail cell."
Christenson says Graham was protective of the girls in ROTC. When the older guys wouldn't stop picking on them, Graham put a stop to it.
"He'd stand up for us," Christenson says. "He wouldn't let just anyone boss us around."
Layton agrees. "He was the most caring and respectful and respected person that I've ever met," she says.
Both Layton and Christenson describe Graham as serious and intense--a young man who planned down to the last detail the spring ROTC ball that he attended with his girlfriend, Diane Zamora.
But the relationship that he had with Diane, they say, seemed strange even then. The girls say that Graham had one persona when he was with Zamora, and another when they were apart.
"She was very cold, standoffish, and snooty, and she made David cold and standoffish" when they were together, Layton says. "If you got David away from her and her away from David, they were totally different people. But if you got them together, David was more quiet, and she was more edgy and tense. I don't know if she was wanting to control him or was just insecure."
Layton says Zamora's aloofness kept most people from really liking her. "She was just rude to people, totally rude to people that she didn't even know and there was no reason to be rude to."
Last fall--after Zamora wrecked Graham's truck--the teens' relationship grew even more intense, according to both Layton and Christenson. "At a point it seemed almost obsessive," Layton says. Zamora had seriously injured her hand in the wreck, and Graham helped her get through physical therapy so she'd be able to pass the U.S. Naval Academy's stringent fitness test and be eligible for a coveted appointment to Annapolis.
Everyone knew that Adrianne was a close friend of David's, because both competed on the cross-country team together. But neither Layton nor Christenson knew the teens had had sex in David's car on November 4, 1995.
After Adrianne's death, the girls acknowledge in retrospect, there were slight changes in David's behavior, but no one paid much attention because they thought his reactions were normal for a person who had just lost a close friend.
"He seemed more to himself," Layton says. "He was more quiet. But we thought it was logical. His conversations stopped. He spent more time with Zamora. He was more moody, but nobody ever thought anything about it."
Then one day in February 1995, at the point in ROTC class where everyone stands up and shares current events, David announced his engagement to Zamora. "He stood up and said, 'I'm engaged. I'm getting married after I graduate from the Air Force,'" Christenson recalls. For David, who meticulously planned and adhered to schedules, this announcement came as no surprise.
But Christenson says it's hard to believe that the caring, compassionate person who was there for her when her brother killed himself in an apparent suicide committed the crime he confessed to. "I don't believe that he did it. I'll probably never believe he did it," she says.
Layton wonders if Graham is taking the fall for Zamora. "I don't think it matters that he signed a confession, because I honestly think that if Zamora had that much power over him to get him to even be there or even think about it, there's no telling how she could get him to cover for her.
"David would cover for anything. He was totally gaga over her," she adds.
Layton says that whether Graham is convicted or not, she'll always remember him as one of her closest friends. "I'll respect him, and he will stay my friend. And if it ever came down to it, I would trust him with everything. I would go as far to trust him with my life. Like Joanna said, I will always love David."
Even today, Layton and her friends spend hours on the phone each night trying to sort out the details of Adrianne's murder, trying to make sense of it all. "It's not any easier. It gets worse," Layton says. "Because now, it's like one minute you're crying, and the next minute you're arguing that he had nothing to do with it. And you're so confused; you don't know why it's going on."
Layton also wonders if her plans to enter the Naval Academy and study to be a J.A.G.--or judge advocate general--will be ruined because of her association with Graham. "I think it might affect my application, because I graduated from Mansfield and I have to put on there who my battalion commander was, the one who taught me everything."
Layton adds, "Not that it bothers me. I'm extremely proud that I learned everything from David."
As Linda Jones, 39, stands over a stove in September, stirring teriyaki chicken for her family, Graham's face appears on the 5-o'clock news. Jones' husband walks in from another room, still wearing the brown jumpsuit he wears for his job as a construction machinery mechanic.
They turn up the sound with the remote and listen to the latest about 18-year-old Air Force Academy cadet David Graham, the boy who had been arrested in connection with their daughter's murder a week ago. The Joneses never knew David, or that he lived just a mile away, near the Golden Fried Chicken where Adrianne worked, or that he and their daughter had a one-night fling just a month before she was killed.
"Why don't you say what he really is?" Jones says angrily, talking to the television. "He's a spineless little shit who could be manipulated so dramatically by a girl with so much passionate jealousy. What kind of a spineless asshole are you?"
Although Jones now says that Graham's and Zamora's arrests have given her the "closure" she needed to deal with her daughter's murder, she now spends much of her days dealing with the media attention that followed the arrests.
"If these had been two punks, nothing would have been said," Jones says. She adds that she has changed her phone number after receiving more than 100 phone calls a day at home and at the Serendippity Beauty Salon in Mansfield, where she works as a massage therapist--calls from newspapers and television networks throughout the country, along with book publishers, movie producers, and talk-show hosts, all wanting to buy the rights to her story. She wonders aloud why call-blocking won't work against the Montel Williams Show representative, who has called her twice daily since the story broke, even though she has repeatedly said she's not interested in flying to New York and appearing on his show.
"Who gives a flying rat's ass about Montel Williams or the newspaper or the media or anybody like that? Because no one's gonna remember anything six months from today. I just want to get out of this circus," Jones says. "Because this circus is the most godawful thing that the media can do to a family."
Bill answers the phone and quickly hangs up. "What was that all about?" Linda asks. "Same old shit? Did the movie lady show up? I don't want anything to do with those people," she says.
Yet despite her feigned lack of interest, Linda Jones has, in fact, become a willing friend of the media. She and her family have appeared on Extra!, Hard Copy, and Inside Edition, and flew to New York to appear on In Person with Maureen O'Boyle. Although there are rumored to be three book contracts so far on the Mansfield murder story, Jones says her book will be the definitive piece--though by press time for this article, she hadn't found a publisher.
On a warm October evening, a few dozen friends and family members gather at Rose Park in Mansfield for a candlelight vigil that Linda Jones has organized in honor of Adrianne. She hopes to lay to rest her nine months of anguish over the murder of her daughter, whom she says brought so much light to the lives of others.
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The mourners hold white candles in Styrofoam cups and hug one another and cry. A few friends step up to the microphone and speak about how much they miss their friend, through sobs and apologies for the tears. Linda Jones urges the crowd to participate in an upcoming walk for victims of crime, and asks that they sign their names to fabric squares that would someday be stitched into a victims' quilt.
A tall woman with a red dress and permed hair who never knew Adrianne has trouble with the portable sound system, and starts singing a song twice--a song supposedly written by a friend of Adrianne's, whom she didn't know, either. Then a creepy tape-recorded victims' rights song plays, sung by what sounds like a small, dying child, and the cascade of tears throughout the small crowd continues to flow.
As they carry on, a man standing alone at the back of the crowd weeps silently. Wearing a bright-yellow baseball cap with the letter "M" for Mansfield on the front, and a navy-blue Mansfield High School jersey in memory of the girl who loved to run and play soccer, he rocks back on the heels of his worn work boots and wipes tears from his eyes.
Meanwhile, every night, the lights still shine in his daughter's bedroom, and the window remains nailed shut.