Loved Ones Recall Gentle Life Of Va. Woman Lost to Abduction

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The last time Bobbie Bosworth spoke to her husband, Tom Bosworth, she called him "Edward." That's not his name, and he knew something was wrong.

Barbara J. "Bobbie" Bosworth was in a convenience store in Prince William County, having been kidnapped from Springfield Mall and driven 18 miles south, where her captors tried to get money using her ATM card. But Bobbie Bosworth never used her ATM card, her husband said, so she did not know her personal identification number.

When she called home a second time, Tom Bosworth tried to quiz her with "yes" or "no" questions but could not determine exactly where she was, so he called Fairfax County police.

Minutes later, she was gone.

Bobbie Bosworth, 60, a nature lover who made friends easily, somehow crossed paths with Lutchman L. Chandler and Keith A. Baskerville, two 19-year-olds from Woodbridge, on Saturday afternoon, and police believe they might have used a fake gun to abduct her and drive her to Prince William in her red Saturn. While in the PDQ Mart on Cardinal Drive, the trio aroused suspicion, and when someone tried to follow them as they left the store, the Saturn sped away, police said.

With Baskerville driving and Chandler and Bosworth in the back seat, police said, the Saturn barreled into a grove of trees along Neabsco Road, killing Bosworth and critically injuring both men. Yesterday, Chandler died as well, and Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert said he probably would pursue a felony murder charge against Baskerville if he survives.

Tom Bosworth, 53, spoke publicly for the first time yesterday, his eyes red from crying, recalling the woman who was his perfect match.

"While I'm very calm and factual and practical," he said, "she's more emotional and intuitive and spiritual. Where I ended up in life, she's the one who pulled me along."

The couple lived in Alexandria near Cameron Run, just off Duke Street, in a carefully appointed townhouse that reflected one of Bobbie Bosworth's loves: interior design. But animals and nature were her passion, those who knew her best said.

Her husband said Bobbie swam with dolphins off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico, and rode a horse on the beach in Cancun. And in recent years, a bird's nest appeared near the couple's front door each spring. In order to prevent anyone from disturbing the birds during nesting, longtime friend Rick Ferenci said, no one was allowed to use the townhouse's front door for a month -- all humans were required to go through the garage.

"She had a great love for life," Ferenci said. "She was almost childlike, the way she would look at nature and the world." The couple has a Pomeranian dog, two cats and 20 tropical fish.

Bobbie Bosworth was a native Northern Virginian, the first of three children of John and Wanda Spink. She was born in Arlington County, where her father was a fire captain, and was proud of her Arlington heritage, Ferenci said. She was a 1967 graduate of Wakefield High School.

Bosworth spent much of her adult life as a receptionist, and while working for the Wirthlin Group, a renowned Republican polling outfit, she met Tom Bosworth, who supervised phone operations for the pollster. The couple was married in 1984, and did not have children.

For the past decade, she worked at the Kositzka Wicks and Co. accounting firm in the Alexandria area of Fairfax. "They're devastated," Tom Bosworth said.

She was careful to look good in public, Ferenci said. "Even when she went to get the mail, she always had to look perfect," Ferenci said.

And, he noted, "Tom was absolutely the love of Bobbie's life. Bobbie and Tom were the envy of the neighborhood because of how close they were together. You never saw one without the other."

The couple had recently become more focused on fitness, in part through regular walking of their dog, Beau, and both had shed 25 pounds. Bobbie Bosworth went to Springfield Mall on Saturday because she needed new jeans: Her old ones didn't fit anymore.

Fairfax police, although unable to provide statistics yesterday, said the mall was safe. "It's no more dangerous than any other place," said Capt. Erin Schaible, commander of the Franconia district station. She called the abduction "an anomaly -- it happened in the middle of the day." Fairfax police have officers stationed in all malls in the county.

The mall is owned by Vornado Realty Trust, one of the nation's largest property owners. Vornado issued a statement offering its condolences and noting that "the safety of our properties is our highest priority, and we are proactive and rigorous. . . . We assumed management of the Springfield Mall in January 2006, and since that time have significantly expanded and enhanced the property's security measures."

Staff writers Jennifer Buske and Christian Davenport contributed to this report.

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