The orange brick house on the corner of Coolridge Road in the Maryland suburb of Camp Springs was supposed to have been Ron and Ingrid Ellis' dream house. It had three bathrooms and a bedroom for each of the girls and a big backyard where they talked, in happier times, of putting in a swimming pool.
It had bright yellow shutters, a screened patio, a volleyball court and a recreation room with a fireplace. Ron erected a stockade fence around the half-acre yard. He put down plush, royal blue, wall-to-wall carpeting in the living and dining rooms and upstairs. He installed an intercom system all through the house. For the kitchen, they bought a white, double-door refrigerator that dispensed ice cubes and ice water.
The house was everything that they had worked so hard for in their 15 years together, he as a printer and mechanic, she as a police officer. But it was not long after they moved in that things started to go wrong between Ron, the 34-year-old printer's son from rural Virginia, and Ingrid, the 33-year-old daughter of a black American GI and a white Austrian schoolteacher.
And it was there in the dream house, on the afternoon of May 2, that everything came to a horrible end. Police found Ingrid's body, with five bullet wounds, at the bottom of the blue-carpeted steps leading to the upstairs bedrooms. She had been killed with a handgun. Upstairs, they found two daughters, Monica Ronette, 4, and Tammy Renee, 12, as well as two of Ingrid's friends and one of the friend's sons. Their bodies lay in a small bedroom. All five had been killed with a shotgun; there were so many wounds that the medical examiner who did the autopsy said it was almost impossible to count them. At the Ellis family wake, Tammy's casket was closed; the wounds were to ugly.
Of the Ellis family, only Ron and his eldest daughter Tracey Marie, 15, were left. Tracey had been at the movies with a friend that Saturday. Ron was on his way to Chicago, a fugitive, accused by police of killing six people in one of the most violent incidents in Prince George's County history.
The news stunned the family's friends and relatives. They knew that Ron and Ingrid had been having problems, and that Ingrid was leaving and taking the children. They also knew that the couple's fighting had gone beyond angry words, that Ingrid had come to work once with a black eye and a swollen nose, and another time with bruises on her neck. But everyone thought that Ron and Ingrid Ellis simply were in the middle of a divorce, another sad, messy divorce.
Afterwards, when six people were dead, they wondered why things had come apart. Ingrid and Ron married young -- she was 17, he was a year older -- and the children came early. It was a good marriage until the last year or two, the friends and relatives say, a match between two vibrant, hard-working people who wanted many of the same things in life.
Some say that Ron and Ingrid grew up together and then grew apart just as they were achieving what they'd worked so hard for, their place in the middle class. Husband and wife began wanting different things: Ingrid grew serious about her police career and talked of freedom; Ron wanted to draw his family closer around him. And there were financial pressures. No one is sure where Ron and Ingrid's money went, but their friends wondered if the house at 6700 Coolridge Road hadn't perhaps cost the couple too much.
In the end, no one, maybe not even Ron and Ingrid themselves, knew exactly what had gone wrong. As Ingrid's friend, D.C. Police Lt. Robert White, said, "It was a bad marriage. Who knows what happened? I don't know what happened to my own marriage."
Ingrid's cousin, Helga Baskett, thinks the problem started long before the house on Coolridge Road, long before Ron and Ingrid were married. She thinks that it started with the houses they grew up in, Ron's in Bassett, Va. and later in Northeast Washington, Ingrid's in the affluent black neighborhood known as Washington's Gold Coast.
"They were from different classes," Baskett said. "She was always pulling him up."
The two had been born on different continents, Ron in the United States and Ingrid in Austria. Ingrid's adoptive parents are old now and can recall few details of their daughter's life before they adopted her. But her 73-year-old adoptive aunt and godmother, Cleota Spotts, remembers that Ingrid's natural parents were married, and that it was difficult for them in Austria because he was black and his wife was white.
"They kept her as long as they could, but the townspeople kept running them out," Spotts said. "Ingrid used to have nightmares about how they had to run and hide. Her father was killed -- they couldn't get any information on his death -- and Ingrid's mother remarried. She married a white man. I don't know anything about him, just that he was white. She kept Ingrid awhile after they were married, and then she put her in a Catholic orphanage. She visited her regularly at the orphanage."
Ingrid spent three or four years in the orphanage in Austria. She had not wished to leave. The nuns made up a story about her future, thinking, Ingrid's aunt supposes, that it would make it easier for her to leave.
"They told her she might be discovered by someone from Hollywood and become an actress," Spotts said. "She believed them. When she was a child, she'd stand under trees and pose, waiting to be discovered. That was her dream. That was what they painted for her. She used to say, 'Someday you're going to be reading about me.'"
Ingrid Ellis was a beautiful woman, and she had been a beautiful child, with gray-green eyes and blonde hair that turned brown when she was eight or nine. She was seven years old and spoke no English when her plane landed in New York. Her new parents, Marie and Archibald Withrow, now in their 70s, waited excitedly to bring her home to Washington. It was an adoption arranged through Catholic Charities.
As the only child of a Pentagon analyst and his schoolteacher wife, Ingrid grew up in a large house on 16th Street NW. She was a talented child who studied piano, voice and dance. She went to summer camp in St. Louis, where her aunt, Cleota Spotts, was a choreographer with a modern dance group called "The Spotts Rockettes."
Spotts remembers that Ingrid was preoccupied with marriage as a child.
"She used to say, 'I'm going to get married someday. How old do you have to be to get married?'" Spotts recalls. "I told her, 'At least 20.'"
Ingrid was educated at private Catholic academies and at public schools. She was 17 and a student at Roosevelt Senior High School when she announced that she wanted to marry 18-year-old Ronald Quitman Ellis and that it had to be soon because he was going in the Air Force. They had met at a Hot Shoppe where both had summer jobs.
The young man Ingrid wanted to marry had been born in Bassett, Va., home of the Bassett furniture company and not much else -- a dreary little company town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. John Ellis Jr. worked as a printer at the Bassett Journal and was a scoutmaster who was proud when Ron, the eldest of seven children, became a Boy Scout. When Ron was 10, his father decided that his family would have a better life in Washington.
"It was just after they passed this school segregation thing in 1954," John Ellis Jr. says today. "I thought I could offer my kids a better life."
He wanted them to attend good schools, the ones where the white children went. There would be little chance of that in Virginia, where then governor James Lindsay Almond's policy was "massive resistance." Almond had vowed that desegregation would never happen in his state.
The Ellises moved into a two-story, brick-and-shingled house with four bedrooms and a grassy yard at 2405 12th Street NE, down the street from Mrs. Sanders' Candy Story and around the corner from the red brick Isle of Patmos Baptist Church where, 24 years later, the white caskets of Ron Ellis' wife and two children would rest among a garden of funeral wreaths.
They lived in the house for 25 years, a close family who threw big barbecue parties for their relatives and neighbors. Mary Ellis, the neighbors remember, kept a close watch on her children.
Keith Greene, 29, grew up in a house on 12th Street next door to the Ellises. He remembers the day, 16 or 17 years ago, when Ron pulled out his wallet and showed Keith the snapshots of his girlfriends.
"There were seven or eight pictures," Greene said. "They were all pretty, but the one he pointed out to me was Ingrid. He said, 'This is the one. That's her right there.' That was his dream."
John Ellis Jr. didn't approve of his eldest son's marriage.
"I tried to talk him out of it," the father recalls. "I said, 'You ain't ready for it.'"
Ingrid never put into words just what it was about Ron Ellis she loved, her cousin Helga said.
"Other than sheer animal magnetism, she was trying to make it, and here was another person trying to make it, too," the cousin said.
Ingrid's adoptive mother added, "They felt like they were in love. I was happy for them."
Ron and Ingrid were married on Jan. 22, 1966 at St. Francis Xavier Church at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Their wedding day was cold and snowy. The cake was ruined when whoever was carrying it slipped on the ice. Another cake had to be delivered for the reception. Ingrid's aunt couldn't make the wedding, but sent the couple a full set of china from the Famous Barr department store in St. Louis. Years later, when she visited the couple in their house in Camp Springs, she noticed that the china was missing. Ingrid said it had been broken over the years, piece by piece.
"They just weren't careful of things," Spotts said.
After the wedding, the couple moved into an apartment on Savannah Terrace SE, with money from the Ellises and furniture from the Withrows. Both were still in high school -- Ron at McKinley Technical, Ingrid at Roosevelt. Ron was learning to be a printer, like his father.
That spring he enlisted in the Air Force. He did his initial training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex. and was assigned to McGuire Air Force Base in Wrightstown, N.J., where he spent four years.
Ingrid, who was pregnant, moved into the house on 12th Street with Ron's parents.
"We got to know Ingrid like our own daughter," John Ellis Jr. said.
Their first child, Tracey Marie, was born in the hospital at Andrews Air Force Base the Thanksgiving after Ron and Ingrid were married. The early years, by all accounts, were good years. After Tracey was born, Ingrid moved to a house in a New Jersey town called New Egypt. She wanted to be near Ron.
"They were happy," Ron's father said. "There were no problems there. Nothing major."
Ron received an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1970. He came home, and together the couple began working for the house they wanted to own someday and for the things that would come later: the ballet and piano lessons and Montessori school for the children, the station wagon and bicycles and trips to Atlantic City. On the way to the house in Camp Springs, they lived in a garden apartment in Silver Hill, a rented house in Bowie, and a house they bought in Landover.
Ron Ellis wanted what his father and mother had wanted for their children. His mother, Mary Ellis, said: "He wanted nice things. He wanted the same things everybody does. He wanted land."
Ron became a printer and, on the side, a mechanic. He was skilled at both trades and even in the last year, when the marriage was ending, Ingrid would talk about how Ron could fix anything on a car.
When her husband came home from the Air Force, Ingrid went to work, too. In August, 1970, she joined the D.C. Police Department as an officer and became a vocalist with the department's Side by Side band. One of the other female vocalists was Lania Bryant, who remembers that the new member of the group was not exactly welcomed at first.
"Ingrid could sing better than any of us," she said. They became close friends, and Bryant watched admiringly years later as Ingrid changed.
"At the beginning, she didn't really take the job too seriously," Bryant said. "She was on the scooter, running up against authority all the time." Very Much in Love
In those years, Ingrid glowed when she talked of her husband.
"She used to say that Ron was meant for her," Bryant said. "She said she never really wanted any man but Ron."
Ron said almost the same thing to one of his friends at work, a platemaker named Fred Cullison.
"He told me once, 'There's no one like my wife.' I double-dated once with them to a concert at Constitution Hall." Cullison said. "They had a beautiful relationship."
Both were fine athletes, and they were always going swimming or bicyling or playing tennis or raquetball. They put up a volleyball net at their house. Ron dabbled in drag racing, and in karate, too. They liked to go to concerts on the weekends.
"They always seemed to be having so much fun," Ingrid's aunt remembers.
Greene, who had looked up to Ron ever since they were kids together on 12th Street, felt tht Ron Ellis had it made.
"I always thought he had a happy, close to perfect relationship," Greene said. "He had just about everything everyone wants, according to the American dream."
Ingrid had her job at the police department, but part of her was still the girl posing under the trees, waiting to be discovered. She was always singing, songs form the "Top 40" mostly, and Officer William Taylor, who sat next to her at the police academy, called her Aretha. She loved to go to the theater. She saw "A Chorus Line" two or three times. She joined an acting workshop at the Black Repertory Theater. She got a bit part as a receptionist in "All the President's Men."
"She hustled down there every day while they were filming," Bryant said. "She wanted Ingrid Ellis in that movie. When it came out, she said she couldn't find herself in it. She really wanted to go to New York to try to get into the theater, but she kept saying, 'How can I do that with three kids and be married?' I guess she felt the odds were against her."
Two and a half years ago the Ellises moved to the house on the corner of Coolridge Road. The house in Landover had only had three bedrooms, and Tracey and Tammy had shared. Now, for the first time, each of the girls would have their own room. That was important to Ron. He adored his children, especially Monica, the youngest, a precocious child with blue eyes and long, light-brown hair.
"Ingrid used to say that Monica was her father's heart," Patricia Alexander, a friend of Ingrid's said.
He boasted of his children around the shop at the McArdle Printing Co. in Silver Spring.
"He said they could sing and play the piano. He said one of the girls was in ballet school. He wanted the best for them," his friend George Goldson, said.
Ron's aunt from Shelby, N.C., Claudine Maddox, remembers when the Ellises moved from Landover to Camp Springs. Their new neighborhood had $100,000 split-level homes with five to seven bedrooms and large well-trimmed lawns with azaleas blooming in the gardens.
"A little pocket of affluence in Prince George's County," one resident called it, saying that the houses would be worth twice as much in Montgomery County.
"Ron was all excited about it," Maddox said. "He wanted to take us out to see the new house. I knew he was eager to move. He said the kids would have a larger place to play."
They bought the house for $74,500, with a 30-year, $73,350 mortgage financed through a Veterans Administration loan. The downpayment was small, but the $765 monthly payments were a strain from the beginning, even with Ron working two jobs. Ingrid was making about $19,000 a year. She complained constantly that she was broke, that she was paying all the bills. No one understood where the couple's money was going. She asked her mother for money to buy Tammy shoes for Easter.
"She said she didn't have any money for fun," Bryant said. "In August, she said, 'Where am I going to get the money for school clothes?' She got depressd around Christmas. Every time I saw her, she said, 'I have no money for Christmas.' She didn't know what she was going to do for the children." Fell Behind in Payments
In the end, the Ellises were behind in their payments and the bank was threatening to take the house. Ron complained that his wife wasn't helping, that they weren't "pulling together" anymore. He wasn't the confiding sort, but it came out in small ways. His friend Eddie Rhone said, "I'd say I was going home and my wife had dinner waiting and he'd say, 'It must be nice' -- like his wife didn't make dinner or something."
Ingrid didn't have much free time in the last couple years, not after she had gotten serious about her career with the department. It was shortly after they moved into the house on the corner of Coolridge Road that she began talking about wanting different things: independence and a job that was more than 40 hours a week and a paycheck. She seemed, finally, to give up her dream of being an actress, instilled in her so long ago by the nuns in Vienna. Now, she wanted to move up on the police force. She wanted to make more money. She wanted stripes.
She was transferred to the academy to teach a special course for veteran officers. Her supervisor was Lt. Jerome Rollins, 27 years with the department, a man who came on like the head football coach. Ingrid called him her mentor and he pressed her to study and advance. She was still an officer when he started calling her Sergeant Ellis.
"I said, 'Okay, Sgt. Ellis, let's get it done.' She was very aprehensive at first. She was afraid of failing," Rollins said. "I told her not to worry, we all make mistakes. I kept after her all the time to study. One time she said to me, 'This is something I should've been doing all the time.'"
At the academy they called her "Minute Man" because it seemed that she always was running somewhere, rushing to get Tammy to ballot school, rushing back to study with Rollins. She brought her police manuals to the ballet school and studied in an office there.
Bryant encouraged her friend.
"She just put all her energy into her career," Bryant said. "She loved it. She thrived on the recognition. I was amazed. I was proud of her."
Ingrid was succeeding at work. She was about to make sergeant, a job that would mean a $25,600 annual salary. But her marriage was failing. She began to talk, for the first time since Bryant had met her, of leaving.
"She used to say that she never had time to be on her own. She married right after high school, and she never had any freedom," Bryant said. "About a year ago, she said she'd like to try living on her own with the kids."
Ron, meanwhile, was consumed by the house, according to his wife.
"She said Ron was always working," Bryant remembers. "She said, 'All he wants to do is stay in the house, work around it, fix it up.'"
During the day, he fixed cars in his garage at home. He worked the night shift at the printing company, where he started in 1972 as a press assistant and earned a reputation as a model employe. While his wife was working toward sergeant, Ron was doing his two-year apprenticeship. On May 21 he would have become a journeyman pressman, making about $450-a-week.
His friend Goldson, 34, also an apprentice, recalled: "He was so happy about coming off his apprenticeship. That's what everyone wants."
Sometime last spring, Ingrid came to the academy with a black eye and a swollen nose and a story no on believed. Rollins said, "I asked her what happened.She said she'd been in the bathroom and she was so tired from studying she fell off the commode. I said, 'Ingrid, wait a minute. You're dealing with a pro now' But she never changed that story."
Lt. White was blunter: "Your husband punched you out, didn't he?"
Bryant knew the truth.
"She said he would hit her. But Ingrid was that type, she probably hit him back," Bryant said. "I kept saying, 'Ingrid, you've got to be careful.' She kept saying, 'I am. I'm going to handle it all right.'"
On Feb. 17, Ingrid was promoted to sergeant. Officer Taylor will never forget that day.
"I believe you heard Ingrid shout all over the building," he said. "I think getting promoted was the start of a new era for Ingrid."
White, who was expecting Ingrid at his 36th birthday party the night she was killed, said: "Ingrid was really pumped up about getting promoted. She was on cloud nine all the time."
Rollins attended the promotion ceremony, and Ingrid came up to him afterward.
She told me, 'I haven't finished. I'm going to keep on going.'" Rollins said. "She could've made lieutenant by 1982."
Ron Ellis was not at the ceremony. No one remembers him coming to any of the police functions. Ingrid always came alone, even to the Black Officers Ball, her friends said. But he was proud of his wife, the D.C. police sergeant. Goldson said, "He told me when she got a promotion. He was real happy about it."
Ingrid let it be known that she was going to leave Ron in june, when the children finished school. She had high hopes for this summer. Tammy was a gifted student at the Capital Ballet school on Georgia Avenue, and Ingrid hoped to send her, with a group from Capital, to the Rosella Hightower Ballet School in Cannes, France. It cost $1,800 for a month. Ingrid already has asked her mother and her aunt to help.
Ingrid began looking for a place to live. The relationship already was over, her friends said.
"There was nothing left to fix up. It was a bad marriage. She was fed up with it. . . . They were both seeing other people," White said. Easter Brought Collapse
As best their friends and relatives can piece it together, sometime around Easter the Ellis family fell apart. Tracey ran away from home to stay with a girlfriend's family. On April 20, the day after Easter, her father reported to police that his daughter had run away and had broken into the family home to get some clothes, according to Lt. Robert Miller, one of those handling the Ellis investigation.
No one has said precisely what made the girl leave, but trouble had been brewing between Tracey, a determined and brash girl, and her father for more than a year. About 16 months ago Tracey had run to a neighbor, screaming that her father was going to beat her. Another neighbor intervened, and after finding out that Ron Ellis planned to "whip" Tracey for cutting school, he turned her over to the family. Sometime last spring, one of Tracey's closest friends remembers calling Tracey and having her come to the phone in tears.
"She said, 'He blackened my eye and broke my finger,'" the girlfriend recalls. And a neighbor remembers Tracey confiding that her parents were divorcing and that she was "glad," because she would be living with her mother.
It was around Easter, too, that Ingrid moved in with a woman friend in Arlington. She ran into Bryant in the hallway at the police department around that time.
"She showed me the bruises on her neck where she said Ron had choked her." recalls Bryant. "She said she thought that he was going to kill her, and that she had stopped breathing, but then he just stopped. I hugged her and said, 'You take care of yourself.' She said, 'I will.' I never saw her again."
The house on the corner of Coolridge Road went up for sale the last week in April. The price was $99,500. Goldson noticed that his friend Ron, who always had been the smiling, cheerful type, seemed subdued.
"He said his wife was going to leave him. He didn't want her to leave," Goldson said. "He didn't want the family to break up. He looked kind of sad. . . . But I don't think he ever gave up."
On May 1, Ron called his mother-in-law in New Jersey at about 8:15 a.m.
"He was trying to say different things about Ingrid," she said. "He blamed her for their marriage problems. I told him I did not interfere in other people's affairs. I reminded him that the pot cannot call the kettle black. I told him I would pray for him, and he said, 'Don't pray for me, pray for Ingrid.'"
That was on Friday. On Saturday, the busiest day of the week for house-hunting, real estate agents visited the Ellis house with their clients, walking across the plush carpeting, inspecting the bedrooms, testing the intercom system. There would be no trouble selling; at least two families wanted to buy.
Marrianne Bossier was the first agent to stop by, at about 1:30 p.m. The house was a mess and it was clear from the way things looked that the family was breaking up. Bossier knew this anyway, from talking to another agent. While her clients looked at the upstairs, she chatted with Ron Ellis in the kitchen.
"I said, 'This is a beautiful house.' He said, 'Yes, it's a dream house.' I could just see where his dream was crumbling around him," Bossier said. "There was no sign of a woman in the house. It was obvious his wife was leaving him. I asked him where he was headed for now. He said, 'I'm going to Chicago. I'm going to see what it's like over there.'"
About 2:30 p.m. another agent, Joanne Flood, brought Irving Harris and his wife to the house. Ellis was on the phone. They overheard snatches of conversation: Let me talk to Mom now," and, "Hi, gorgeous," and they assumed he was talking to his wife. They left at about 2:45 p.m. Approximately half an hour later Ellis's friend, Eddie Rhone, showed up. After a brief conversation with Ellis about some picnic tables, Rhone left.
About that time, Ingrid and two friends, Janet Jackson and Sherry Robinson arrived at the house, along with Jackson's 12-year-old son, Tyrone. Jackson, 31, of Boulevard Heights, was one of Ingrid's closests friends. Robinson, 32, of Upper Marlboro, was an acquaintance. Just why the women went there that day is unclear. Some friends believe they were going on a shopping trip. A friend of Robinson thinks that Jackson and Robinson simply may have dropped by after buying a record in the neighborhood. But the woman who Ingrid Ellis had been staying with in Arlington said: "I can't imagine why Ingrid would have returned. Nobody knows why, that's what we'd all like to find out."
Prince George's County police believe that Ingrid Ellis and the five others were killed some time between 3 and 4 p.m.
Between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m., Irving Harris telephoned the Ellis home. He wanted to make a formal offer, but first he wanted to ask Ellis about a few things: specifically, water stains on one of the bedroom floors in the basement and a hole in the ceiling of one of the corridors. Harris recognized Ellis's voice when he picked up the phone. Ellis, Harris later would recall, sounded tense, not at all like the man who'd said on the phone, "Hi, gorgeous," less than two hours earlier.
"I said, 'I was the party that was at your house earlier. I have a few questions I'd like to ask. He told me the hole was where they'd snaked through wires for a fire detector," Harris said. "He told me the water stains happened when the bathtub overflowed. Then he hung up. I didn't think anything of it. I thought maybe he just doesn't want to talk."
Harris then called Flood, his real estate agent, who returned to the Ellis home at about 6 p.m. Finding the door bolted, she took the key from the agent's box and unlocked it.
She recalled last week: "I opened it a tiny bit and yelled, 'Is anybody home?' And I opened it a little more and saw a body on the floor and I shut the door."
Then she ran to a neighbor's to call police.
Police searched the house and found what one officer would later describe as "the bloodiest murder I have ever seen."
Ingrid Ellis, dressed in casual clothes, was lying dead at the bottom of the main stairway. She had been shot in the head, neck and chest with a handgun, and each wound alone, according to the medical examiner, would have been enough to kill her.The sergeant did not have her police service revolver with her and, according to police, it doesn't appear that she tried to resist.
Neither, apparently, did the three children and two women upstairs. They had been herded into a corner of the back bedroom and killed with a shotgun, police later said.
"If you took away the blood, it would look just like Jonestown. The bodies all just lying there. It was strange. No one tried to get away," one puzzled officer later would tell a colleague.
Ron Ellis had vanished. According to police, he drove across town in this wife's Volkswagen to Fairfax County and forced a woman acquaintance and her 5-year-old son to drive with him. When they reached Chicago, they escaped when Ellis got out of the car and left the key in the ignition.
He disappeared into the crowded neighborhood near the highway, and police and the FBI yesterday were still waiting for some scrap of a lead. On Thursday morning as a subdued and saddened John Ellis spoke about his son, the phone rang in the relative's home where he was staying and Ellis picked it up and heard his son's voice.
"Get in touch with the FBI. Period. Not those local yokels," the father told his son in urgent tones. He didn't have time to say much more. Ron hung up. Families Mourn Together
In the week since the killings, the families of Ron Ellis and Ingrid Withrow Ellis have traveled from New Jersey and North Carolina and Missouri to mourn their loss together.
The funeral arrangements fell to John Ellis Jr., the solid, loving father, who said: "I didn't think my son was capable of doing something like this, but I do realize that there is a breaking point in every man . . ." l
Ron Ellis' sisters and brothers and parents have comforted Tracey, and were with her at the wake on Thursday, where the caskets of her mother and younger sister were left open.
Friday, on a windswept hillside at the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, John Ellis supported the arm of his granddaughter, who clutched a white, lace-edged pillow in her hand and fought back tears.
Weeping friends, many of them in the blue uniforms of the D.C. Police Department, stood silently around the graves. Other plainclothes police were there, too on guard in case Ron Ellis had come to see his wife and children buried.
"I just buried three people I love," Kofi Tolliver, Ron Ellis' cousin, said later, "and the fourth man involved, well, I loved him too."
At the house on Coolridge Rd., things were exactly as they must have been when the shots were fired. Soiled laundry and boxes of detergent lay on the floor of the family room, where bookcases were filled with family snap-shots. The garage floor was littered with sweat socks and rackets. And Ron Ellis' auto mechanic's trouble light still dangled on its cord from the ceiling.
The front door of Ron and Ingrid Ellis' dream home was padlocked. A weatherbeaten paper sign taped to the door said the house was secured under orders of the Sheriff of Prince George's County for the "Estate of Ingrid M. Ellis, Deceased."