A Crime In The Neigborhood

A Crime In The


It was the summer of 1972 when Spring Hill,
a Washington, D.C., suburb, got its first taste of an increasingly violent,
insecure modern world. The quiet residential area, whose inhabitants traditionally
left their doors unlocked and spent the summers attending one another\'s
cookout, was
rocked by the news that 12-year-old Boyd

Ellison had been raped and murdered, his body dumped
behind the local mall. While shaken residents
organized a neighborhood watch program and clued
detectives in on anyone\'s suspicious behavior,
the inhabitants of at least one house were distracted by a tragedy of their
own: 10-year-old Marsha Eberhardt\'s father, Larry, had run off with his
sister-in-law, leaving his wife and three children to manage on their own.

Marsha, stunned by her father\'s abandonment and having broken her ankle,
spends the summer witnessing her mother\'s desperate attempts to cope, the
neighborhood\'s paranoid response to the murder and even the country\'s disorientation
over the unfolding Watergate scandal. The tension proves too great when
the Eberhardts\' shy bachelor neighbor, Mr. Green, takes interest in Marsha\'s
mother. Though murder is the most visible crime in Marsha\'s neighborhood,
it is by no means the only one, Marsha\'s father and aunt run off together
and Marsha wrongly accusses Mr. Green for the death of Boyd Ellison.

Marsha\'s father had left before the summer

Boyd Ellison was killed. The divorce had a tremendous impact on the whole
family. Marsha\'s twin brother and sister spent the summer away on vacation
and since Marsha had her ankle in a cast, she wasn\'t able to do things
most kids did during the summer vacation like swimming. Marsha remembered"it was only after my father left and Boyd Ellison was killed that I started
to wonder to myself what might happen next."(35) Since Marsha had so much
time on her hands during the summer of \'72, she seemed to fill the time
with investigating who could have killed Boyd Ellison. She kept a journal
of her thoughts and even goes so far as to keeping track of Mr. Green\'s
daily routines. It could be that Marsha needed to get her mind off of her
parents divorce, and the murder of Boyd Ellison did exactly that. Marsha
was extremely curious of her neighbor, Mr. Green, because he was a bachelor
living in a neighborhood full of nuclear families. Mr. Green didn\'t fit
in with everyone else because he was generally withdrawn and socially awkward.

Shortly after Boyd Ellison\'s death he threw a barbecue for the whole neighborhood
but no one showed except Marsha\'s mother, Lois. Lois felt sorry for Mr.

Green because no one had shown up for his barbecue, so she decided to go
over and join him. Marsha didn\'t like the idea of her mother flirting with
another man besides her father. Marsha\'s mother would make a point of waving
to Mr. Green if she happened to be in the yard just to be neighborly. They
would also exchange gardening advice since Mr. Green kept his yard immaculate.

Marsha, like most kids whose parents get divorced, didn\'t like the idea
of another man replacing her father. Lois and Mr. Green are two extremely
lonely people who seem to get along well but Marsha fears Mr. Greens presense.

Marsha is also curious of Mr. Green because
on the day that Boyd Ellison was murdered, Mr. Green had returned home
from work early and then left again. According to Marsha\'s evidence notebook,

"around the middle of July-July 20th to be exact, three and a half weeks
after my father and Aunt Ada disappeared, [ I ] saw Mr. Green\'s car drive
past the house, two hours before he normally got home from work. Later

Mr.Green pulled up ten minutes before his usual time ... he looked sallow
as he got out of his car, a little bruised around the mouth, and he had
a Band-Aid stuck below his lower lip."(86) This particular event made Marsha
very curious of Mr. Green especially since it had been the same day that

Boyd was murdered. From this point on she had wondered if the killer lived
right next door to her and her family.

Another possible reason that Marsha gets
caught up in her "detective" work is that she\'s lonely. She doesn\'t have
many friends to play with and since her brother and sister are gone, she\'s
all alone with her mother. Lois has enough problems of her own so she doesn\'t
give Marsha much attention. At the same time Marsha seems to be seeking
attention by confronting her mother about what she knows about