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Sheriff: woman was bludgeoned

November 14, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com
gregs@herald-mail.com

Shirley P. Finfrock, the 68-year-old Smithsburg-area woman whose body was found in her home Wednesday morning, was bludgeoned to death, Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades said Thursday.

Mades said that Finfrock was "beaten to death" with a blunt object Wednesday morning inside her 22128 Holiday Drive home.

Mades said he could not confirm the specific cause of death until results from an autopsy performed Thursday at the Maryland State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore were available. Those results were expected this morning, he said.

Mades said investigators still were collecting evidence at the scene more than 24 hours after the body was found.

"We've still got a lot of unanswered questions," Mades said.

Jeff Kercheval, a forensic analyst from the Western Maryland Regional Crime Lab in Hagerstown, called the search "arduous."

The Sheriff's Department called a tow truck to remove a green Chevrolet pickup truck from in front of the home at about 3 p.m.

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Mades said he did not know the reason the truck was towed.

Police had made no arrests by Thursday night.

Finfrock's husband, Edwyn L. Finfrock, found her dead inside their home at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Sheriff's Department Lt. Randy Wilkinson said Wednesday that Finfrock's husband left the house just before 6:30 a.m. and found his wife's body when he returned home from work at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Although the original call to authorities was for a possible suicide, Maryland State Police Trooper Brian Smith, of the Frederick barracks, reported the death as suspicious, Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said Wednesday that the home might have been entered through a rear window, and that foot tracks led from the scene to railroad tracks behind the house.

Sgt. Mark Knight said Thursday morning that investigators were leaving all options open. Knight, who attended the autopsy in Baltimore, could not be reached Thursday evening for further comment.

Mades said investigators left the scene Thursday before 3 p.m. to regroup.

Prior to that, investigators from the Sheriff's Department, Hagerstown City Police and Maryland State Police searched for clues inside the Finfrocks' home, while the block-long section of road in front of the home remained sealed.

As police went about their job, people who knew Shirley Finfrock remembered her Thursday as a kind, churchgoing woman, the mother of four, who always was willing to help others.

"She was always really helpful. She'd do anything for you," said Ken Mongan, 59, of Leitersburg.

Mongan said he'd known Finfrock, who used to work at Washington County Hospital, since his youth.

"I never would have thought anything like this would have happened. She probably didn't have an enemy in the world that I know of," Mongan said. "This is really a shock."

Bob Darby, 66, lived a few doors down from the Finfrocks' Holiday Drive home. He said he started a Boy Scout troop in the early 1970s.

"She was one of the first to sign up to help," he said.

Rick Pattison, 51, who lives next door to the Finfrocks, said the couple came to his recent wedding, and came over for summer evening parties that they enjoyed so much they put a deck on the back of their home.

"Shirley said, 'Now we can have a party,'" Pattison said.

He said she was "just the sweetest woman you'd ever meet. I mean, everybody says that, but she was."

A nephew of the Finfrocks who was reached by phone declined to comment Thursday. A voice message left at the family home was not returned.

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