On the surface, the trio couldn't have seemed more different. One was an African American man from New Jersey who dreamed of being a musician. Another was a gay Irish American woman from Baltimore who loved politics. The third was a young Jewish man who listened to hard rock, relished cartoons and movies and someday wanted to be a cop.

But all three -- Emory Allen Evans, 25; Mary Caitrin Mahoney, 25; and Aaron David Goodrich, 18 -- had overcome challenges in their young lives and landed jobs in a Georgetown coffee shop. Each described the job to family and friends as a pivotal step toward a future goal.

Instead, last Sunday night, in several horrific moments, those lives ended together. They were gunned down execution-style in the back room of the Starbucks on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, a trendy coffee shop in an affluent Washington neighborhood that is seldom touched by such violence.

D.C. police detectives still don't know what happened in that room sometime after 9:15 p.m. Preliminary ballistics tests indicate that 10 rounds were fired from two guns in what may have been an attempted robbery. But police have said no money was stolen from the store, a point that haunts the victims' survivors.

"The news reports said that the murders did not involve a robbery -- that no money was missing," said Rabbi Donald R. Berlin, of Baltimore, who officiated at the funeral service for Goodrich in Olney on Wednesday afternoon.

But there was a robbery, the rabbi said, his voice shaking as he looked down at Goodrich's coffin. Someone robbed Aaron Goodrich, Mary Mahoney and Emory Evans of their lives.

Early Friday afternoon, David Evans waxed his metallic blue Mercury Marquis beneath a shade tree. A few feet away, on the stoop outside the Northeast Washington home he shared with his only son, lay a telephone, a pen and a yellow note pad, its pages turning in the breeze.

On one of the pages lay the reason for his bloodshot eyes. It read: "Order of Service . . . Song." Markings on an incomplete funeral program.

Services for his son, Emory, will be Tuesday in Vineland, N.J., where Emory grew up and will be buried.

"He was trying to make an honest living," David Evans said. "He came here with plans to attend Howard University. Before he could make the money to continue, he got cut off."

Evans, a chef at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, said he and his former wife, Susie, divorced when their son was 4. He was raised by his mother in Vineland in a quiet neighborhood where residents say they still leave their doors unlocked.

Emory showed an interest in music early on and began playing the saxophone when he was in the sixth grade. He also picked up the trombone and later joined a local jazz band that played clubs in New Jersey. That only fueled his hopes of becoming a professional musician, David Evans said.

Emory Evans struggled with school and eventually dropped out after 10th grade. He later received a high school equivalency diploma and enrolled at Cumberland County College in Vineland. In 1995, he applied and was admitted to Howard University. That fall, he came to Washington to attend Howard and moved in with his father in the Brentwood Village section of Northeast.

"That was his dream, to go to Howard," David Evans said.

That dream never materialized, because Emory didn't have enough money for tuition. He worked at a temporary employment agency, several restaurants and the cafeteria at Washington Hospital Center, where he stayed for eight months. Three weeks ago, he got a job at Starbucks, working part time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Early Monday, a Metro bus driver, Warren Wingfield, was driving along his route on Wisconsin Avenue near R Street NW before daybreak when he spotted a woman running down the middle of the street toward his bus.

She was screaming and crying, fleeing a horrifying scene at the Starbucks a half-block away. Three of her co-workers were dead inside.

Wingfield called his dispatcher for help. When D.C. police arrived, they found the bodies. Emory Evans had been shot three times, once in the chest with a revolver and twice in the back of the head with a semiautomatic gun.

Several hundred friends and relatives crowded Friday morning into the Taggert Chapel, nestled among huge magnolia and aging oak trees on the campus of McDonogh Preparatory School near Baltimore to share what they loved about "Caity" Mahoney.

They cried. They laughed. And they told many a story about a selfless and gentle woman, nicknamed "Beanbag," who had successfully overcome daunting obstacles.

Mary Belle Annenberg, Caity Mahoney's mother, said that one day Chelsea Clinton walked into Starbucks. Caity was thrilled. She had worked as an intern for President Clinton in the White House. But Chelsea couldn't find any money. Caity reached into her pocket and bought the president's daughter a hazelnut latte.

Caity, the youngest of three children, flunked the second grade but worked hard to catch up and by the sixth grade was accepted into the McDonogh School. She brought home report cards full of A's and "an arsenal of great friends," recalled her brother, Patrick Mahoney.

But Caity stuttered, and she disliked answering the telephone because of her speech impediment. By the time Caity was in the eighth grade, her speech had improved so much that she won the eighth-grade oratory championship. "Caity was so determined," her brother recalled.

Caity later went off to college "and off to college and off to college," her brother joked, pointing out that his sister attended Fordham University and Ithaca College in New York before graduating from Towson State University in Maryland. "Caity had seen more college campuses than her sister and I had combined," he said.

She improved her speech and faced a new issue: her sexuality.

"Caity was not sure about her own sexuality, and she was struggling," he said. "It proved to be her toughest struggle. But she confronted this problem like a champ."

When Caity Mahoney told her family that she was a lesbian, their initial reaction was disapproval, her brother recalled. "But Caity was strong for us. . . . She educated us about this. Caity was so brave."

The "dirty-haired blonde," as her brother described her, didn't worry about her looks. She never fussed about her hair or her clothes until her brother's wedding two weeks ago.

"She wanted to be pretty" that day, he said, fighting back tears. "I could sense that, and I told her what a beautiful woman I thought she had become."

As her brother struggled to keep his composure, he talked of his love for his baby sister. "It was I who looked up to you," he said. "You were my role model. You were so caring and accepting."

Molly Mahoney, Caity's older sister, said Caity made her own rules and stuck by them. She found a note in Caity's belongings that outlined her daily goals: Work on speech; be good to the world, animals and fellow people; be honest; be on time (always for work); and be careful.

On Monday morning, Caity's mother was taken to Starbucks to identify the body of the woman lying on the floor in a back room, in an area apart from the two male bodies.

She was almost unrecognizable. Caity, the coffee shop's assistant manager, was first shot once in the chest, police said. She had raised her hands to her face, possibly to protect herself. A bullet pierced her hands and hit her face. Then she was shot in the back of the head. They called him "Baby." At Starbucks, that was the nickname co-workers chose for Aaron Goodrich when he was hired in April. At 18, he was the coffee shop's youngest worker.

Friends and relatives sometimes joked that Aaron's life had been one long struggle. He was born a month premature. His parents divorced when he was 4. He suffered from asthma and wore braces on his teeth. He struggled in classes, and a teacher said he didn't much enjoy school. He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

But friends and relatives say Aaron was pulling his life together. "If there is any significance to the short life of Aaron Goodrich," Rabbi Berlin said at his funeral, "it would be: Don't give up.

"He had worked so hard to get to this point," Berlin said. And through it all, he possessed what Berlin called "unbelievable charm."

With a sweet and compassionate demeanor, Aaron Goodrich was popular as a camp counselor because he was so much like the campers, Berlin said. Aaron loved to watch television. He was mechanically skilled and liked animals, museums and the National Zoo, where his father volunteered at the Elephant House.

"He loved people -- old people, little children, girls," Berlin said.

And, his mother said, they all loved him back. "Aaron had so many friends," Fran Block said. "He could charm the pants off anyone. He was what you call, in the Jewish tradition, a real mensch."

Aaron, who was tall and slender with a big smile and an infectious laugh, lived in Baltimore with Block and his sister, Lindsey, 15, whom he adored. Last year, he moved to Washington to live with his father, Lawrence Goodrich, and his wife, Darcy, who is from Seattle, where Starbucks was founded.

"I thought it was real important for him to be with his dad," Block said.

At Wilson High School in Northwest, where Aaron was to enter his senior year this fall, writing teacher Leighann Tyson described him as "the kind of kid you would trust baby-sitting your own child. . . . He was just a nice kid finding his way in the world. It's ironic that the path he finally found himself on was really his end."

After Aaron worked for a while at a Georgetown movie theater, his father helped him get a new job -- a job he loved -- at the coffee shop near their home. He hoped to work his way up to be a manager there.

Early Monday morning, Larry Goodrich telephoned his son's mother in Baltimore. She sleepily reached for the phone. "Aaron was murdered last night," she recalled him saying. Later, the police told her he had been shot once in the chest. As she sits shiva, the Jewish custom of staying at home to mourn, receive visitors and recite prayers, Block is haunted by visions of what happened in that back room.

"I couldn't protect him," she said. "I keep seeing how he looked when it happened. I hope and pray it was fast and he didn't have time to be scared. I couldn't get there to protect him. I couldn't stop it. You worry about things like a car accident, but he was in a good neighborhood, and he was a terrific young adult doing what he should have been doing."

On Wednesday afternoon, about 300 friends and relatives gathered at Judean Memorial Gardens to bury Aaron under the shade of an oak tree. His tearful classmates hugged one another, gently placing cards, flowers and mementos into the grave.

"Why this cruelty? Why this violence? Why this death?" Berlin asked. "Why? Why? Why? Oh, how I wish I had an answer."

As a cool breeze blew, Berlin recited the kaddish, the mourner's prayer. Then Aaron's father picked up a small shovel, as is customary at a Jewish funeral. He bent down and scooped up the brown dirt. Slowly, he emptied the dirt onto the coffin. Aaron's other loved ones picked up the shovel and did the same.

Tears filling their eyes, they each glanced longingly toward the coffin one more time before slowly turning to walk away.

Staff writer Cheryl W. Thompson contributed to this report.

CAPTION: Slain a week ago at the Starbucks coffee shop on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown were Emory Allen Evans, 25, top left; Aaron David Goodrich, 18, bottom left; and Mary Caitrin Mahoney, 25. No arrests have been made.

CAPTION: Molly Mahoney, second from right, sister of victim Mary Caitrin Mahoney, hugs a fellow mourner after a service at the McDonogh school near Baltimore.

CAPTION: David Evans, father of Emory Evans, said his son wanted to go to college. "Before he could make the money to continue, he got cut off," he said.