A phone call to their rural Kansas home at 1:30 a.m., Friday brought Madeline and Jack Harrigan "the worst news" -- their son-in-law had been slain at his home in Washington. "
Yesterday, the Harrigans watched as their daughter, Marilyn Flook, demonstrated for two D.C. homicide detectives how two men tried to force their way into the couple's Northeast townhouse Thursday night and shot to death her husband, Frank.
"This is no existence," the gray-haired Mrs. Harrigan said in a soft midwestern accent, "when you've got to have bars on the windows and locks on the door. My daughter can't stay here."
Across the street, Sincere Davis stood on her front porch, watching the activity at Flook's home in the 1500 block of A Street NE. "I hope she stays. I hope it doesn't drive her out of the neighborhood."
Throughout the day, neighbors and friends streamed to Flook's two-story sea-green house with yellow trimmings around the window to offer condolences and to ask if there was anything they could do.
Marilyn Flook sat in the dining room of her home, fingering a blood-stained wristwatch that belonged to her husband. It had been given to him by his father.
"It's hard to be back [home]," she said as tears began to flow down her face. "Yet it is good. Frank would have wanted it that way. It's our home."
The Flooks moved into the predominantly black neighborhood last August. They were the only white couple in a block of 21 two-story owner-occupied rowhouses. The Flooks' home has been renovated, and another white man is living in and renovating a home on their block. The turn-of-the-century houses are large, with high ceilings and bay windows fronting onto the street.
Flook returned to her home for the first time yesterday since the shooting. She stayed with friends on Friday.
"I don't know if I will continue to live here, she said softly.
As she talked, Flook leafed through a photo album, showing pictures of her and her husband to a visitor. When she turned to a picture of the couple's previous home in Jacksonville, Fla., she said, "This was our home in the safe suburbs. We wanted to move to the big city."
Flook, who works as a community planning and development representative for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was transferred to Washington in July.She and her husband moved into their A Street townhouse in August.
"The first day we were moving in, Frank was at work," she said. "I pulled up in the alley and about 30 kids met me and asked me if I wanted help to move the boxes in the house."
From that day on, Flook became popular with the neighborhood children. She provided dolls and toys for the children to play with.
Yesterday, a 5-year-old neighbor came to her house shortly after she returned home. She stayed practically all morning, playing with the dolls and talking to Flook's mother.
Madeline Harrigan said her daughter had never lived in an urban area before the move to Washington.
Harrigan said her family grew up in a small town near Girard in Crawford County, Kan. "You've heard of the heartland of America," Flook said. "That's it."
"We don't have these bars to the windows [in Kansas]," Harrigan said. "People there trust and respect each other."
Even yesterday, the Harrigans found getting used to city life a bit difficult. Jack Harrigan had put the trash out back and returned to the house without locking the back door, just as he would have back home. A few minutes later, two men frightened Harrigan when they came up the back steps and entered the back door. The two men were police officers in plain clothes; but the Harrigans, wanting to be certain, called the police to check the identification of the officers.
Mrs. Harrigan said one neighbor had told her daughter that a group of the neighbors plan to talk with other neighbors to see if they can find any witness who may have seen the two men fleeing the Flook home Thursday night.
Thus far, police have no suspects.
"Some of these people don't like to talk to the police," said the Rev. Imagene Stewart of the D.C. Community Crime Task Force, who went to the Flook home yesterday to offer assistance. "We're urging people to come forth. Somebody must have seen something."
Some black neighbors have said they believe the Flooks were victimized because they were white.
"I don't believe it is racial," Stewart said, however. "They [burglars and robbers] tend to look at houses that are fixed up. People feel like when you got a renovated house with all that green [plants] in the window, like hey those people must have something."
Marilyn Flook said yesterday her neighbors are some of the nicest people she has met.
After the shooting, they offered their help. Flook was barefooted and coatless as D.C. police placed her in a car to take her to headquarters. The police would not let her go back into the house at that time. Seeing this, the neighbors gave her socks and slippers as well as a coat.
And when the police brought Frank Flook's body out of the house on a stretcher, the neighbors stood shoulder-to-shoulder to keep her from seeing it. s
"They were there when I needed them," she said.
Relatives and friends scheduled a candlelight memorial service for 6 p.m. today at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, 201 Fourth St. SE.