Alan Miller Kaufmann was just days into retirement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development but was eagerly embracing post-work life. He wrote in an email to his sister that he had pored through six books, called old friends and watched a lot of sports. He wanted to get a master’s in American history — which would have been his third college degree, his sister said.
“It’s just profoundly sad that it won’t happen,” Lauren Kaufmann said.
On Jan. 10, the day after Lauren Kaufmann read her brother’s email, Fairfax County police found Alan Kaufmann, 68, dead from a stab wound at his home in McLean, Va., and charged his stepson, 39-year-old Adam Timothy Jackson, with second-degree murder. The fatal stabbing was the first homicide case to occur in the county this year.
Lauren Kaufmann, 65, said detectives told her that Alan Kaufmann was protecting his wife after Jackson had tried to attack her for reasons that remain unclear. Police said Alan Kaufmann’s wife, Jackson’s mother, was also injured in the incident but did not have life-threatening injuries.
“He died making the ultimate sacrifice,” Lauren Kaufmann said.
According to friends and family members, Alan Kaufmann loved books and baseball. Lauren Kaufmann said her brother taught himself to read as a child by perusing the pages of their daily newspaper for coverage of the Baltimore Orioles, his hometown team.
His lifelong love of baseball led him to board a Greyhound bus during the summer of 1975 on an odyssey to visit every stadium in the country. Ted Trimble, Alan Kaufmann’s friend of more than 50 years, tagged along for the adventure.
Trimble, who met Alan Kaufmann while attending the Gilman School in Baltimore and also went to college with him, said the stadium tour helped Alan Kaufmann with his undergraduate thesis, in which he researched baseball’s delayed racial integration. Alan Kaufmann planned every stop, coordinating with friends and family for places the two could stay in between bus rides, Trimble said. In Montreal, they were able to crash at a local YMCA.
“Alan had the idea because he was such a lover of American baseball, and I kind of wanted to see the country,” Trimble, 68, said. “I mean, I liked watching baseball, but I’m just nowhere as expert as he was.”
Alan Kaufmann graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and New York University’s law school in 1981, his family and friends said. He worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for at least 12 years, according to his colleagues. Before working on the department’s team dedicated to rental assistance demonstrations, they said he worked at Baltimore’s public housing authority.
“He was committed to being an active citizen, as well as using his training to make America a better place,” Trimble said. “He wanted to help more people have roofs over their heads.”
Tom Davis, who worked at the housing department with Alan Kaufmann, said he was known among colleagues for his humor, gentleness and kindness. In a digital age, Davis said Alan Kaufmann was known for giving colleagues clippings of newspaper articles.
“Through his work, he touched the lives of thousands of families who never knew his name or how important he was to making sure they could afford a decent place to live,” Davis said. “And he shaped the lives of those of us lucky enough to work with him.”
Lauren Kaufmann said a detective gave her an account of what happened that night:
Around 11 p.m. Jan. 10, Alan Kaufmann’s wife was watching television at her home on Colonial Road when her son approached her. Jackson, who lived in the home, had his arms stretched out, appearing to be giving her a hug. Instead, he attacked her.
Alan Kaufmann, who was upstairs, heard the commotion and came to see what was happening. He saw Jackson and jumped on him, trying to pull the son away from his mother. The two men scuffled, and Alan Kaufmann was stabbed while his wife called 911.
“By the time the cops came, my brother had already died,” Lauren Kaufmann said.
Alan Kaufmann’s wife was transported to the hospital, though police said she did not have life-threatening injuries. Police took Jackson to the Fairfax County jail, where he was denied bail. Jackson’s family members declined to comment, and an attorney could not immediately be located.
Lauren Kaufmann said her family intends to have a celebration of her brother’s life in the spring, though a date had not been finalized.
“I’m still sort of struggling with this reality,” she said. “Honestly, it’s come as a horrible shock.”