Murder in the Park: Rice release revives memories
The search had been on for nearly two days, and it was almost dark when the rangers, moving down a wooded slope, glimpsed a yellow tent through the trees. The scene they saw as they stepped into a small clearing looked like the campers had been unpacking their gear and setting up camp. There was a dog leash tied around a tree, but the collar at the end was empty.
When they peered inside the tent it was clear that the search had ended. In the close, dark space, they saw a woman's body.
Their first thought was that it might have been a bear attack. But then, after radioing their grim discovery and moving deeper into the clearing, they saw a sleeping bag that looked as though it had been tossed headfirst down the bank of a creek. Inside was another dead woman, and her neck had been savagely slashed. No bear had dragged her, in her sleeping bag, from the tent to the creek bank. Fearful now, the rangers scanned the woods and reached for their guns.
Were they alone? Or was someone watching?
On summer Saturday nights, Skyland Lodge teems with hikers, campers, and day-trippers who have driven in along the Skyline Drive as it weaves north and south through the Shenandoah National Park. In the brightly lit dining room bustling with the clatter of tableware, voices, and movement, it might have been hard to believe that only half a mile away, two women had been slaughtered. Music spilled out of the bar and diners paid their bills as rangers hurried up and down a trail through the woods and the gruesome news raced upward through the chain of command.
Aftershocks from another murder were still reverberating throughout Central Virginia when the Park Service and FBI held a joint press conference to announce the killings on Monday, June 3, 1996.
Three months earlier, Harrisonburg native Alicia Showalter Reynolds had disappeared from Route 29 while driving from Baltimore to Charlottesville. Her car was found at the side of the road south of Culpeper on the evening of March 2, and when news of her disappearance broke, the Virginia State Police began hearing from motorists who remembered seeing Reynolds and a man standing by her white Mercury Tracer. A pickup truck was parked behind them on the shoulder.
The State Police suddenly got numerous calls from women who said a pickup-driving man had approached them as they made their way along 29. The man would flash his lights and gesture for the woman to pull over. If she stopped, he would tell her that something was wrong with her car– usually, that sparks were coming from underneath– and then he would offer her a ride.
The man quickly came to be known as the "Route 29 Stalker." Of the 23 women who claimed to have been targeted, the majority either didn't pull over or, if they did, rebuffed him and drove off. In addition to Reynolds, three women got in the man's truck. Two were taken to their requested destinations without incident; the third woman, in Prince William County, was attacked but survived.
As the weeks dragged by with neither a body nor a suspect, fear of the Stalker steadily rose. Then, on May 7, a man walking in a rural part of Culpeper County noticed buzzards circling above a field and went to investigate. The search for Alicia Showalter Reynolds was over. The search for her killer, however, has never ended.
Now, less than a month later, came news of fresh horror.
The woman in the tent was Lollie Winans, 26, and the woman near the creek was Julie Williams, 24. They had been lovers, something their families hadn't known. At times, in the days that followed, their relationship threatened to claim more headlines than the fact that they had been brutally murdered in a national park– which, theoretically, was one of the safest places they could have been.
Lollie was one semester shy of graduating from Unity College in Maine, while Julie had graduated the year before from Carleton College in Minnesota. Both women had summer jobs waiting tables in Vermont– where Julie had been living in a small town near Burlington since January– and they planned to share an apartment. In the meantime, they drove to Virginia to ramble through the Park with Lollie's golden retriever, Taj, in tow.
They entered the Park in Julie's car at Front Royal– Milepost 0– on Sunday, May 19, and obtained a back-country camping permit. On May 22, they got a second permit for the nights through May 26.
The last pictures found in their camera were taken at Hawksbill, the highest point in the Park, on the afternoon of Friday, May 24. In one image, Julie is seen writing in her journal while they waited out a rainstorm in the Hawksbill shelter. In another– taken by a fellow hiker– they're perched atop a rock, smiling, and Julie has her arm around Lollie.
It was still raining at 5:20pm when a female ranger saw them in the Hawksbill Gap parking lot and offered them a ride north along Skyline Drive. Later, all the ranger could remember was that they sat in the back seat and studied a map. Around 5:30 she dropped them off near Skyland in the Stony Man Nature Trail parking lot.
They headed down what the maps identify as the Skyland-Big Meadows Horse Trail, but which Park regulars simply call "the bridle trail." About 500 yards down, they branched off to the left and descended the densely wooded slope to the clearing, where they pitched their tent and began setting up camp.
On Thursday, May 30, Tom and Patsy Williams of St. Cloud, Minnesota, got a troubling nighttime call from Julie's roommate: The always dependable Julie hadn't shown up to help the roommate, an old friend, clean their apartment before they moved out. The Williamses notified the Park Service early the next morning, Friday, May 31.
Julie's car was found in a parking lot near Stony Man Overlook at 10am on Friday, and Taj was found wandering in nearby White Oak Canyon around 4pm on Saturday, June 1. The bodies were found about 8:50pm that evening.
Both sets of parents– Tom and Patsy in Minnesota, John Winans in Florida, and Laura Ford in Michigan– received word of the devastating discovery in the early hours of Sunday, June 2.
Lollie was killed in the tent, her mouth sealed and her wrists bound with duct tape, and her ankles bound with long underwear. Julie was in her sleeping bag about 75 feet away. She was also gagged and bound, but not at the ankles. Neither woman appeared to have been sexually assaulted. Their throats had been slashed with such force that they were almost decapitated.
Tom Williams and his brother left immediately for Virginia. The next day they went to the campsite, where Tom gathered flowers and drank from the creek. Then he sat down near the spot where Julie's body had been discarded, and cried.
• Sunday, May 19 - Winans & Williams register for back-country camping in the Park
• Friday, May 24 - women photographed at Hawksbill, given ride to Skyland; final journal entry (by Williams)
• Saturday, May 25 - Rice enters Park alone at Front Royal at 8:05pm
• Sunday, May 26 - Rice enters Park alone at Rockfish Gap at 4:57pm
• Monday, May 27 - Memorial Day, resumed departure date for the two women
• Tuesday, May 28 - Rice returns to work
• Wednesday, May 29- Williams misses appointments in Burlington, Vermont
• Thursday, May 30 - Williams fails to show for appointment with roommate; parents called at 10pm
• Friday, May 31 - Tom & Patsy Williams call Park Service in early afternoon and search launched
• Saturday, June 1 - Rice visits Skyland area of Park with Ruckerts; bodies discovered around 9pm
• Sunday, June 2 - parents notified around 3am
The killer– or killers– would prove just as elusive as the man who murdered Alicia Showalter Reynolds. Special Agent Tim Alley, who led the investigation for the National Park Service, says that in the months that followed, 15,000 leads were checked out– leads that led nowhere.
"It was a large and complex investigation," Alley says, "that took us up and down the East Coast."
To add to its complexity, the Park had been full of campers, hikers, and tourists over Memorial Day weekend, and leads came in not only from across the U.S., but from around the world as well.
Thirteen months went by without a break in the case, and as the summer of 1997 began, it seemed unlikely that the killer or killers would ever be found. The State Police maintained control of the Alicia Reynolds investigation, and there was no public statement suggesting they might be linked.
But on July 7, 1997 everything changed.
It was midmorning as Yvonne Malbasha bicycled south along Skyline Drive. She had come to the Park from Canada with a friend, and, because he was a faster cyclist, it was their habit to bike separately during the morning and then meet for lunch. Malbasha says she wasn't paying particular attention to the vehicles that passed her; it was just normal traffic for the height of the season.
So she didn't notice one particular vehicle, a blue Chevy S10 pickup with no license plates, that was repeatedly passing her– first on one side of the road, then on the other. Darrell David Rice was at the wheel.
Malbasha says Rice later admitted in court that he had been stalking her for about 45 minutes– and when she heard that, Malbasha realized he'd been waiting for the right moment to strike. She couldn't have handed him a better opportunity.
Around Milepost 57, she saw signs for the Lewis Mountain campground and turned off. As she got farther down the narrow access road, she realized there was a vehicle right behind her going "very slow." Rice passed her so close, she says, that she could feel the heat of his truck's exhaust, which caused her to lose her balance and come off her bike. Then he stopped and got out.
"I thought he was coming to apologize," she says– but as he rounded the front of the truck he began "yelling obscenities," and was clearly enraged. When he was within arm's reach, she feared he was going to attack her, and she hurled her water bottle at him. Then he grabbed her and shouted, "Get in the truck!"
Malbasha, a full-time paramedic, says she knew from years of training that she had to remain calm. She also knew that if she held onto her bike, he wouldn't be able to get her in the truck. She stayed focused on that because she had heard on America's Most Wanted that if an attacker succeeds in getting a woman into his vehicle, there's a 50 percent chance she'll be killed.
They struggled, but Malbasha refused to let go of her bike. Rice finally gave up and got into the truck– but not to drive away.
Hobbled by the cleats on her bicycle shoes, Malbasha made a frantic dash to barricade herself behind a fallen tree and heard Rice gunning his engine. As she watched in terror, he drove toward the log as if he meant to ram it. Stopping just short, he backed up and came at her again. He did this four or five times before finally driving off.
Several minutes later a passing ranger found her and radioed a BOLO– "Be on the lookout"– for the man and his pickup. Reasoning that the perpetrator would head for the nearest exit, another ranger positioned himself at Swift Run Gap. Shortly thereafter he saw a tour bus heading toward the exit– and behind it, a man in a blue pickup.
When Malbasha arrived, she identified Rice immediately. Two details, however, didn't match– details that would reveal a chilling level of premeditation: When he was stopped at the exit, Rice was wearing a different shirt, and his truck suddenly had plates. Rangers found the t-shirt Malbasha had described under the driver's seat; Rice later confessed that after attacking Malbasha, he had pulled into a picnic area to reattach the plates and change his shirt.
Investigators also found several 15- to 18-inch cable ties, locking plastic bands used by electricians to bundle wires– and also used in law enforcement as temporary handcuffs. Rice's attorney, Lloyd Snook, argued that Rice had the cable ties for legitimate reasons.
Malbasha, however, believes Rice intended to use them to restrain her. "I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever," she testified at Rice's sentencing, "that the intent of Mr. Rice was to sexually assault me and kill me."
Rice pleaded guilty to one count of attempted kidnapping in federal court (because national parks are federal property) and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His conviction didn't mean that the Park Service and FBI closed their file on him, however; just the opposite. Almost as soon as he was arrested at Swift Run Gap, they began looking at him– long and hard– for much more than the attack on Yvonne Malbasha. For the next five years, they investigated Rice exhaustively.
Finally, in 2002, they were ready to make their move.
At a press conference at Justice Department headquarters on April 10, 2002, then-attorney general John Ashcroft announced that a federal grand jury had indicted Rice for Julie and Lollie's murders. Because the two women had been lovers, Ashcroft called the killings "hate crimes" and sought the death penalty.
While gay-rights groups applauded the decision, raising what investigators agreed was a circumstantial case to a capital crime may have ultimately derailed it. Because he faced the death penalty, Rice was able to attract a high-powered and aggressive defense team that sought, with laser-beam intensity, to acquit him.
Deirdre Enright may be Rice's most vocal defender. Enright was appointed by the federal court to be the "mitigation expert" who, if Rice had been found guilty, would have presented the defense's case to the jury during sentencing. As Enright became more involved, however, and began to explore the thousands of pages of documents, she shifted into the role of investigator.
Enright took possession of Rice's blue Chevy S10 pickup– the one he tried to force Malbasha into– when it was released by the Park Service; she now stores it for him at her house on St. Anne's Road in Charlottesville. Her name is on the title, along with Rice's; she says she took custody of the truck in case the defense team needed access for any reason– such as future litigation– while Rice is in prison.
Enright believes that while investigating the murders, Park Service and FBI agents ignored evidence that didn't implicate Rice. An example of their alleged bias, she says, is the government's mischaracterization of Rice's actions when he attacked Malbasha.
Asked to explain, Enright begins by admitting that if she had been Malbasha, she would have been "terrified." But, she continues, the defense has always admitted that Rice had "mental health issues." The government mischaracterized the nature of Rice's behavior, she says, by telling Malbasha, "You narrowly escaped a killer" instead of saying, "You just had an encounter with someone who has mental health issues."
Asked whether such a statement would have changed her feelings about Rice, Malbasha is adamant: "absolutely not," she says. She also dismisses Enright's assertion that the government tried to influence her opinion of Rice. "They were at pains to make sure there was nothing that would prejudice me," Malbasha insists. "The guy tried to kill me."
Rice's mental health issues seem to center on women. Two weeks before he attacked Malbasha, he had been fired from his job at MCI Systemhouse in Maryland, where he made computer training materials, and his treatment of female coworkers may have been a contributing factor.
One female colleague said Rice had followed her closely into a parking lot and yelled at her. Another said he'd followed her as she walked to the office from a nearby mall and called her a "filthy slut."
The day after he was taken into custody for attacking Malbasha, Rice allegedly told Deputy U.S. Marshal Larry Carter (now deceased) that, in Carter's words, "he had a rage against women" and that "this rage carries over when he is out on the highway and that he likes to run women off the road," after which he would "just keep going." When Carter asked where he did this, he replied "on Route 29"– although he denied knowing who Alicia Showalter Reynolds was.
Carter also claimed that Rice's father said his son "didn't like women and that a previous girl had broken up with him because he was mean to her." After Rice was indicted for the Park murders in 2002, however, his father told a Washington Post reporter that Rice had always had healthy relationships with women.
Rice also told FBI agents that he had once encountered a female jogger in Annapolis while riding his bike and, although unprovoked, had yelled, "Go home and eat your children's sh*t!" As for Malbasha's behavior when he was trying to force her into his truck, the agents claimed Rice said she had been "disrespectful" by throwing her water bottle at him.
In 1999, after Rice had been imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institute in Petersburg, the FBI placed an undercover agent in the jail who taped Rice admitting, according to the prosecutors, that he was sexually inadequate, made heavy use of pornography, and had engaged in only two sexual relationships with women.
A fellow inmate allegedly told investigators that Rice was "crazy into porn" and that the magazines he got were "kinky sh*t," such as "a woman with a ball in her mouth with tape over the ball and tied down to a chair with rope and tape."
Even among his defenders, few would argue that Darrell Rice wasn't hostile toward women. But was he also capable of murdering them?
1-Front Royal-Rice videotaped entering the Park here Saturday night
2-Thornton Gap-This entrance's surveillance camera wasn't working that Memorial Day weekend
3-Panorama-waitress believes she served meal May 26 or 26 to Lollie and Julie
4-Skyland-The two women camped and died near one of the largest dining/lodging complexes in the Park
5-Hawksbill-On a rainy Friday the 24th, they caught a ride here with a ranger to the Skyland area
6-Lewis Moutain Access Road-Darrell Rice attacked Yvonne Malbasha 13 months after the killings
7-Swift Run Gap-Rice arrested here after attacking Malbasha
8-Rockfish Gap-Rice videotaped entering the Park here Sunday afternoon
Lollie Winans and Julie Williams planned for a week in the Shenandoah National Park.
PHOTO COURTESY WILLIAMS FAMILY
Lollie Winans enrolled in Unity College in 1994 in hopes of becoming a wilderness guide who could lead expeditions for female sexual-abuse survivors.
PHOTO COURTESY WILLIAMS FAMILY
Julie Williams performed so many overseas service projects during her college years she was called a "one woman Peace Corps."
PHOTO COURTESY WILLIAMS FAMILY
Canadian bicycle enthusiast Yvonne Malbasha fought off Darrell Rice and his blue truck on July 7, 1997.
PHOTO COURTESY THE SUBJECT
Darrell Rice's truck is parked in a driveway on Charlottesville's St. Anne's Road
FILE PHOTO BY WILLIAM WALKER
Lollie's dog Taj was found wandering around Skyland about four hours before the bodies were found.
"The 29 Stalker crimes and the Shenandoah double homicide do not seem to fit the profile of Evonitz," says author Diane Fanning, "but not all serial killers consistently stick to a certain type."
ST. MARTIN'S PAPERBACKS
In the absence of any forensic evidence– such as DNA or fingerprints– linking Rice to Julie and Lollie's murders, prosecutors argued that circumstantial evidence, coupled with information they'd allegedly gathered from Rice's fellow inmates, would prove Rice was the killer.
Government investigators claimed they interviewed numerous inmates who volunteered information on Rice, but only a handful were considered credible. One of those, Phil Robertson, claimed that Rice had confessed to the murders and gave the following account of what had happened: After coming on the campsite, Rice initiated a conversation with the women that turned volatile when he asked whether they had boyfriends. One "spoke up and said they [weren't] interested in men."
At that point, Rice "decided he was going to rape them. He tied them up and hurt the one so that the other one would cooperate." One of the women started "hollering" at Rice, and Rice "hurt her." Robertson stated that when he asked what Rice meant, "He said he slit their throats."
The defense filed a motion in which they claimed that informants such as Robertson were offered inducements for their testimony, but the government denied the charge, saying that Robertson "never received any consideration nor acts of leniency from law enforcement nor the courts."
Another skirmish centered on a covertly taped conversation, one of the linchpins in creating the hate-crime case. The government's transcription had Rice saying, "[unintelligible] I hate gay people." The defense had the recording "super-enhanced," according to U.S. Attorney Tom Bondurant, which revealed that Rice had actually said of government prosecutors, "They were trying to get me to say I hate gay people." Rice's defense asserted that the tape had been intentionally mistranscribed, which Bondurant denied.
Prosecutors continued to claim that Rice had been angered by the women's relationship. When asked what might have motivated the murders, Rice allegedly volunteered, "Well, as soon as you hear that they were maybe more than friends..."
The most heated debate, however, concerned the time of death. Prosecutors believe that the women were murdered shortly after they were last seen on Friday, May 24. Rice was videotaped entering the Park alone on both Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. This is significant, prosecutors argue, because murderers sometimes return to the scene of their crime.
Rice also returned to the Park on Saturday, June 1, the day the bodies were found, this time with friends Caryl and Rob Ruckert. The Ruckerts defended Rice, saying that the excursion had been their idea. Asked about their time in the Park that day, Rice told investigators, "We went hiking like right in the middle of the search party." Like many people in the Park June 1, the three were questioned by a ranger; ironically, their interview took place just as the dog Taj was found by hikers in White Oak Canyon.
It was Rice's time in the Park the previous weekend, however, that struck investigators as suspicious. He had been videotaped entering the Park at the northernmost point, Front Royal, around 8pm on Saturday, May 25, a foggy, rainy night. The next day– Sunday, May 26– he was videotaped entering at the southernmost point, Rockfish Gap, around 5pm. Had he come, like so many others that Memorial Day weekend, simply to enjoy the Park– or to see whether the bodies had been found?
In a study sponsored by the FBI of 36 sexual murderers who had been convicted and imprisoned, 27 percent returned to the crime scene– but that also means that 73 percent didn't.
"The temptation is always to over-interpret," says William Stejskal, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Northern Virginia. Even so, Rice's movements on May 25 and 26 struck investigators as odd.
Rice has denied that he was in the Park on Friday, May 24. He wasn't videotaped at any entrance, although investigators believe that if he did enter the Park that day, he probably would have used Thornton Gap, which is the closest entrance to both the murder site and Culpeper, where Rice sometimes stayed at his father's house. The Park's videotaping system at Thornton Gap, however, wasn't working properly on May 24.
The medical examiner put the time of death at 10pm on May 28, and Rice's defense argues that he couldn't have been the killer, because he returned to work on Tuesday, May 28. However, Mapquest puts the drive between Columbia, Maryland and Skyland at just two and a half hours. Moreover, the time determination came from measuring the levels of potassium in the women's eye fluid, a test that one of America's leading forensic pathologists believes to be unreliable.
"All the tests that I'm aware of that are done on eye fluid are questionable," says Werner Spitz, professor of pathology at Wayne State University and co-author of Spitz and Fisher's Medicolegal Investigation of Death, considered the authoritative text for forensic pathology.
Another weakness in the government case was the failure to collect insect evidence– for instance, the larvae that grow on dead bodies. Forensic entymologist Neal Haskell says it's "unbelievable" that such evidence wasn't gathered. "I was just really shocked," he says, "because we knew better 10 years earlier."
At a crime scene such as the one in the Park, where Julie's body may have been exposed to the elements for as long as a week, insects may be the only way to reliably establish time of death. In the absence of actual specimens, Haskell– who was consulted by the defense– studied videotapes of the crime scene but was unable to reach any conclusions.
Rice's defense team argued that a number of witnesses placed the women in the Park after May 24, but that FBI and Park Service investigators dismissed their accounts. For instance, Brandi Mumbauer, who was a waitress at the restaurant at Panorama, stated she had served breakfast to two women on the 25th or 26th. The women, she claimed, matched Julie and Lollie's descriptions and were traveling with a dog. Mumbauer produced a ticket for their meals, which included meat– even though both women were committed vegetarians. Defense investigator Enright dismisses this apparent discrepancy by saying they must have ordered the meat for Taj.
Government investigators contend that the women were murdered either on the evening of May 24 or in the early hours of May 25, and point to three main circumstances as proof. First, although Julie and Lollie had taken a steady stream of pictures throughout their time in the Park, the last were the ones taken at Hawksbill on the afternoon of May 24 (two or three frames remained on the roll, but were damaged by water). Second, neither woman wrote in her journal after that date, and while Lollie wasn't a daily writer, one investigator described Julie as "avid."
And third, their back-country camping permit expired on the morning of May 27. Julie had appointments in Burlington on the 29th, which means that they would have had to leave the Park on May 27 to be home by the evening of the 28th, assuming they intended to make the trip in two days, as they had on the way down.
No matter how confident the government might have been of the circumstantial evidence, however, in the fall of 2003 they realized they had a major problem.
Until then, investigators had believed that the only DNA recovered from the crime scene was mitochondrial DNA on the long underwear that had been used to bind Lollie's ankles. Mitochondrial DNA can determine only the person's sex– in this case, male– but it cannot be used to develop an individual person's profile.
In October of 2003, prosecutors learned for the first time that there was also a hair on the duct tape that had been used to bind Lollie's wrists. The hair, which had been mounted on a slide but never analyzed, had been discovered during a review of the evidence prior to Rice's trial. Only hairs that include the root– which this one didn't– possess the nuclear DNA required to pinpoint an individual. But the FBI had recently begun using a new DNA test, Y-STR, which showed that the hair could have come from 42 percent of the male population– but not from Rice.
His defense team asserted that Rice was therefore excluded as the killer. They also announced that the DNA could have come from a man who, even in death, could still elicit horror: Richard Marc Evonitz.
In September 1996, 16-year-old Sofia Silva was kidnapped and murdered in Spotsylvania, 10 miles southwest of Fredericksburg. Eight months later, also in Spotsylvania, 13-year-old Kati Lisk and her sister Kristin, 15, were kidnapped and killed. The cases remained unsolved until June 2002, when a 15-year-old girl Evonitz had kidnapped in South Carolina escaped and called the police. Two days later, during a high-speed chase in Florida, he shot and killed himself. Authorities said all three victims had been raped, and the DNA belonged to Evonitz.
Prosecutors in the Park murders reject Evonitz as a possible suspect because his preference for young girls was so pronounced, and they also point out that a dead man is an easy target for suspicion.
As for DNA evidence that Rice's defense insists excludes him as a suspect, the chair of the department of forensic science at George Washington University, Moses Schanfield, cautions against reading too much into a single hair on a piece of duct tape.
"It doesn't mean he didn't kill them," says Schanfield. Prosecutors argue that the hair could have come from a variety of sources, including an investigator at the crime scene.
Because they were faced with a death-penalty case, however, prosecutors concluded that the DNA evidence might prove to be insurmountable, and in April 2004, they withdrew the indictments. Even so, Rice's legal battles weren't over– any more than Central Virginia's memories of the Route 29 Stalker were gone.
Although Rice had been under scrutiny for those crimes since 1997, he wasn't charged in the Prince William County case until federal prosecutors dropped the Park case against him.
Carmelita Shomo was the only woman besides Alicia Showalter Reynolds who not only got in the Stalker's truck, but was attacked. Shomo, however, survived her 1996 abduction, and she identified Rice as her attacker. In his 2005 trial, Rice agreed to take a so-called Alford plea– in which the defendant claims innocence but acknowledges that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict him– in exchange for not having any time added to the sentence he was already serving.
It's impossible to say whether other suspects have been considered in the three murders, since investigators don't typically name suspects. One private investigator, however, believes that a former Charlottesville porn shop owner, Michael Nicholaou– who killed himself along with his wife and her daughter late in 2005– should be linked to several Central Virginia crimes, including a brutal 1984 rape on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Evidence to implicate him in the Parkway rape is currently under study by Nelson County investigators.
As for Rice, he will be released on July 17. According to Enright, he plans to move to Maryland, where his mother lives in Stevensville, a small town on an island in the Chesapeake Bay. As part of Rice's three years of supervised release, he will be required to get a job, report to his probation officer within the first five days of each month, refrain from excessive use of alcohol, and meet 10 other standard conditions. Presumably, he will also be reunited with his truck.
The families of the victims remain solid in their support for government investigators. "They are on top of it," John Winans says– even though, nowadays, it doesn't seem there's much to be on top of.
"The real tragedy of Julie and Lollie is in my mind constantly," he adds. "You never have closure." As for Rice and the indictments that may never be reinstated, Tom Williams says, "I'll let time resolve the issue regarding Mr. Rice. I respect the system."
One condition of Rice's release sounds almost biblical: "The defendant shall not commit another federal, state, or local crime." It remains to be seen, beginning July 17, whether that's a commandment Darrell Rice will obey.
[Correction: The map sidebar in our print edition said that Malbasha was attacked the year before the killings. Actually, she was attacked 13 months after the killings, a correction that has been made above in this online edition of the story.]