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Springfield Neighbors Shaken by Triple Stabbing

Nerves Still Frayed After Police Meeting

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By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 24, 2008

Less than a week after three men were stabbed to death in their home in the Springfield area, the police tape and crime-scene investigators are gone. The curtains in the front window are drawn. Beer kegs, old furniture and garbage are piled in the carport.

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But all eyes are still on the empty brick house on Moultrie Road as neighbors harbor lingering questions about the unsolved case.

Did someone break into the home? Did the men try to fight off their attackers? Will another home be targeted?

Residents of this largely middle-class Fairfax County community said they are worried that whoever killed three of their neighbors Wednesday night might strike again. More than 100 people packed into nearby Ravensworth Elementary School's tiny cafeteria yesterday to listen to police and neighborhood leaders try to calm fears, telling residents the slayings were an isolated incident.

"I know some people are shaken and concerned," said Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock). "But this is an extremely unusual event."

Investigators have fielded 20 leads and are focusing on a potential motive, but they are not publicizing it for fear of jeopardizing the case, said Maj. Shawn Barrett, commander of the Fairfax police criminal investigations bureau. Investigators reiterated that they do not consider the killings to be a random act.

"With that in mind, you and the community can rest easy," Barrett told the crowd.

Still, many residents left the 90-minute meeting with unanswered questions.

"We grew up here for 40 years. We never locked our doors. We left our keys in our cars," said Brent Reynolds, a film distributor and president of the Ravensworth Farm Civic Association. "In 40 years, we had one bike stolen. It's a very safe community."

Reynolds said the civic association's e-mail list, once reserved for notices about lost pets and traffic congestion plaguing Ravensworth Farm's 850 homes, is now the place to go for news about the triple homicide.

Residents along Moultrie Road, just south of Braddock Road, can not recall a single homicide in the neighborhood in the past 40 years. "I've seen things change, and things aren't changing for the better," said Nonie Gay Jones, 59. "I understand change. I don't understand crime."

The brothers who lived in the brick rambler, Terence J. Strope, 38, and Ryan C. Strope, 26, liked to throw the occasional party, neighbors said. But the sons of a retired Arlington County police officer were polite and easygoing and fit in well with the diverse community of aging retirees and young families.

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