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Neighbors shaken by Finfrock's death

November 14, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

As she did once a month, Shirley Finfrock on Tuesday met friends she knew through church at a Bob Evans restaurant in Hagerstown.

They engaged in "ordinary chitchat. I can't remember what all we really talked about - but whatever women talk about - and she seemed very happy," said Grace Peiffer, 70, of Leitersburg.

A day later, Finfrock, 68, was found bludgeoned to death in her home at 22128 Holiday Drive near Smithsburg.

Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators said they were investigating her death as a homicide.

The house where Finfrock lived with her husband, Edwyn Lee Finfrock, is in a quiet neighborhood of mainly one-story homes with driveways and garages. The lawns and shrubs are manicured, there are few fences and neighbors said it's the type of place where people wave to each other on the way home.

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For some, the violent death of a neighbor is causing them to make some changes.

Rick Pattison, 51, who lives next door to the Finfrock home, said he installed dead-bolt locks Thursday and called a company to make arrangements to have a home-alarm system installed.

"The neighborhood's gonna change," said Pattison, who said he and his wife were friends of the Finfrocks.

Caroline Magaha, 71, also a Holiday Drive resident, said she and her husband have been in the habit of locking their doors at night, but on Thursday she locked her doors for the first time during the day.

"I never thought that would have happened ... This is a very quiet place," Magaha said.

Carol Ridenour, 55, said, however, she still thinks "this is a very, very safe neighborhood. ... I went to bed last night and I slept just like I always do."

Some neighbors said they were thinking about starting a neighborhood watch, and others said they were going to be more vigilant.

"It's crazy stuff," said Eric Kephart, 28, of Smithsburg, who was at the nearby Rocky's New York Pizza and Italian Restaurant Thursday. "It's a shame. ... Small towns don't stay small forever."

Lori Hartley, 45, co-owner of Dixie Eatery in Smithsburg, said the people at the restaurant were talking about what had happened. She said people were "definitely on edge."

Hartley's mother lives off Md. 64 near Holiday Acres.

"It could have been my mom," she said.

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