Annandale Teacher Found Dead in Home

Fairfax County officer L.M. Russell waits for vehicle at a checkpoint in Springfield. Police handed out fliers seeking leads in the death of Marion Newman, one of two other Fairfax women found slain in their homes recently.
Fairfax County officer L.M. Russell waits for vehicle at a checkpoint in Springfield. Police handed out fliers seeking leads in the death of Marion Newman, one of two other Fairfax women found slain in their homes recently. (By Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 27, 2006

A 52-year-old Fairfax County teacher who lived with a registered sex offender was found dead in her Annandale townhouse Saturday in what police described yesterday as a domestic homicide.

Fairfax police said the slaying of Julie Mansfield Adams, a special education teacher at Virginia Run Elementary School in Centreville, was connected to the apparent suicide of a man whose body was found in Greenbrier County, W.Va.

West Virginia State Police said they found the man's body in a burned-out car in a parking lot in Monongahela National Forest on Saturday with a note nearby, prompting them to ask Fairfax police to search Adams's home. Fairfax police found Adams dead in the home on Glastonbury Court with "trauma to the upper body."

Police would not release the name of the man, who they said was in his 40s. But West Virginia Trooper Drew Pendleton said police were investigating the fact that Adams had been living with a registered sex offender, Donald R. Coffield, 43, who was convicted of aggravated sexual battery in Tennessee in 1991.

Word of Adams's death stunned her colleagues at Virginia Run Elementary, where she was in her third year of teaching fourth-grade special-needs students. Principal Terry Hicks said the school contacted those students' parents and will make counselors available today for students and other teachers.

Hicks said Adams had returned to teaching after raising three sons, including one serving in Iraq. Adams took several extra courses to acquire new teaching methods, Hicks said.

"She was an extremely dedicated teacher. She loved her kids and would do whatever necessary to give them what they needed," she said. "She was very creative and energetic. She loved to . . . find out what was important to them and what they really liked and would then provide that so they were motivated to learn more."

Adams was the third Fairfax woman found slain in her home in recent months. The body of Marion B. Marshall, 72, was found in August in her Springfield home, and Marion J. Newman, 74, was found dead last week, also in Springfield.

Police are investigating a possible link between the first two cases, but police spokeswoman Keela Lowry said yesterday that police do not believe that Adams's slaying was connected to the others. Last night, they handed out fliers around Newman's home seeking information about her death.

Neighbors in Adams's quiet cul-de-sac, just west of the Capital Beltway and Fairfax Inova Hospital, were shaken by her slaying. Nora Drain, who lives next door to Adams, said the victim had moved into her tidy brick townhouse with her then-husband more than 20 years ago and, after their divorce, raised her sons there. Before returning to teaching, Adams had worked at Safeway for many years, Drain said.

Drain, who has lived on the street for 11 years, said Coffield moved in with Adams about six years ago, initially as a tenant. She said that Coffield has a daughter who lives nearby, that he worked for a company that installs security doors in government buildings and that he often used Adams's car to get around.

About three years ago, Drain said, she stumbled across Coffield's name on Virginia's sex-offender registry. She warned her teenage daughter and notified some neighbors as well.

Drain said that she often heard the sounds of carousing and loud arguing coming from Adams's home and that on a few occasions police had gone to the house, but she had no direct knowledge of any violence there. A few months ago, Drain said, Adams broke her shoulder, which she said happened when she fell over her dog.

Records show Coffield received a three-year sentence for the battery conviction. In Fairfax in 2003, he was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender. In 1985, he was found guilty of car theft and aggravated assault in Pinellas County, Fla. Court records show he had been found guilty of a half-dozen alcohol-related offenses in Arlington County, Fairfax and elsewhere, including driving under the influence and public intoxication.

Staff researcher Rena Kirsch contributed to this report.

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