Whatever Happened To...the prosecutor who tried child homicide cases

What do you do after a career of dealing with child-killers, rapists and the casually sadistic?

If you are June Jeffries, a major-crimes prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia for 25 years — a mother who specialized in prosecuting child homicide — you get out and try to live the rest of your life in sunlight, in a land free of shadows.

“I’ve never missed a minute of it,” she says of the job from which she retired in 2008. “It was a job that brought me great satisfaction. I had tremendous highs. But I always was the kind of person where my job was not my life.”

Jeffries’s career covered some of the most violent years in D.C. history, when crack cocaine fueled drug wars that pushed the city’s body count above 400 per year. She eventually began to handle the darkest cases that no one else wanted: child homicides. A 2006 Style story followed Jeffries through the hallways of D.C. Superior Court and into the brutal world of spinal fractures, blunt instruments and autopsies. Most people, even prosecutors and judges, consider these the most emotionally disturbing, if not spiritually deadening, cases in the courthouse.

Jeffries retired two years later, taking a buyout at 54. (She jokes that she was “paroled after 25 years, seven months and three days, with no time off for good behavior.”)

June Jeffries vacationing at Jamaica (C. Lorene Royster.)

Since then, she’s done what everyone in Washington says she wants to do when she leaves her job: spend more time with her family.

A native of Detroit, she decided to stay here in retirement, living in Silver Spring. Her husband, B.J. Parker, is a retired cop. Her mom, Betty Lue Jeffries, has moved in with them. Her only child, Rudy, has graduated from college and now works in a federal courthouse. She still knits, as she was prone to do during breaks in homicide trials. She’s working on becoming a vegetarian. She has taken to signing off on her e-mail correspondence as a “woman of leisure, commitment, and contentment.”

She travels frequently, having just returned from Montego Bay, Jamaica. She still hosts an annual spring party for friends.

“I do sometimes still think of my children,” she says, referring to the murder victims she represented over the years, “but I tend to think of life as a book. When you finish chapter two, you move on to chapter three.”

Neely Tucker is a staff writer in the Sunday Magazine. He has reported from more than 50 countries around the world and from two dozen of these United States.

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