Dottie Langmead and Yvonne Magee went all through high school together and each was a bridesmaid in the other's wedding.
Yesterday, Mrs. Langmead, 44, was dead -- murdered execution-style during Monday's robbery of the Farmers Bank in the 9800 block of Liberty Road in Randallstown. Mrs. Magee was left asking questions for which she had no answers.
"Why does this happen?" she said.
She expressed the shock, anger and bewilderment of many in the Baltimore and Carroll County communities touched by the violence.
"This is so senseless and tragic," Mrs. Magee said, fighting back tears. "I just don't want to believe it. I just feel so sorry for Mike [Langmead] and the boys. He [Mr. Langmead] said he didn't know what to do. The kids and Dottie were his life."
"I feel so helpless," she said. "How do you stop this from happening?"
Police said the robbers entered the bank at 2 p.m. Monday and demanded money. They ordered Mrs. Langmead and three female co-workers to lie down in the vault, and then shot them all before fleeing.
Dorothy Juanita Langmead died at the scene. Six hours later, the head teller, Anastasia "Stacey" George, 51, of Finksburg, died at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
The other two victims, bank manager Barbara Mitchell Aldrich, 52, and teller Cindy Ann Thomas, 21, both from Sykesville, also were flown to Shock Trauma. Ms. Aldrich was listed in fair and stable condition last night. Ms. Thomas was in serious but stable condition.
Residents say their community is small enough that people still know each other, and they feel each other's pain. Both of Mrs. Langmead's sons, Michael, 19, and Mark, 16, have worked at Chapman Gardens, a nursery and garden store on Liberty Road not far from the Farmers Bank.
The sons also have worked down Liberty Road at George's Super Thrift, and at the Exxon station next door to the bank. For a time, Mrs. Langmead worked as a receptionist at Larry's Chevrolet until it closed. After that, she obtained the teller's job at Farmers Bank.
None of these places is much more than a half-mile from the family's well-tended Cape Cod home on Deer Park Road.
"She grew up there. It was her mother's house," said Joe Magee, Mrs. Magee's brother-in-law and a neighbor who has known Mrs. Langmead since childhood.
"This was a person that really stood for the principles and values of the American Dream," Mr. Magee said. "She put family first. She was a hard worker; she was loyal to her family, her friends and neighbors. She was always there to lend a hand. . . . She was the kind of person that you feel close to even if you don't see them every day."
Friends said Mrs. Langmead was working to build a college fund for her sons.
At the Langmead home, the family guarded its privacy in seclusion. Mr. Langmead's brother, James, said it was just too soon for family members to speak publicly about the killings.
At the bank, someone had placed two small wooden crosses decorated with red flowers on the front lawn. Beside it was a small spray of red roses. The bank was closed. Lawrence J. LaMaina, Jr., the bank's chairman, said he wasn't sure when it would reopen.
"I would think as soon as possible," he said. "But [they were] the bulk of the staff." Only the bank's president, Robert Holmes, and a mortgage originator escaped the assault. They were out of the building when the robbery occurred.
The women were cooperating with the robbers, said Mr. Holmes, a Finksburg resident. "It didn't matter. They shot our whole staff anyway."
Out in the Sandymount section of Carroll County, northwest of Finksburg, another community was also asking, Why?
Stacey George "never bothered anyone," said Frank L. "Jake" Vogt Jr., as he and his employees sipped coffee and talked in the office of Vogt's Parts Barn, next door to the George home.
His son, Frank L. "Butch" Vogt III, added, "She really loved life. She was happy to go to work and happy to come home."
Fred and Stacey George moved to Sandymount three years ago and bought the house that the elder Mr. Vogt and his wife had built in 1951.
Mrs. George "just really loved the house," Butch Vogt said.
She was always planning remodeling projects, working with her husband to get the house just the way they wanted it, he said.
"It's just a darned shame," Jake Vogt said.
At Liberty High School in Eldersburg, Cindy Thomas' former teachers remembered asking her about the potential risks of her bank job.
"She shrugged and said, 'If that happens, it happens, and I'll deal with it,' " said Virginia Phelps, her former English teacher. "This is so sad, and there's no reason for it."
The Sykesville neighbors of the Thomas and the Aldrich families were keeping a watch, hoping for better news from the hospital.
"We are all in shock," said Sharon Forthman, who lives across the street from Ms. Thomas' home. "Where will all this violence end?"
Farmers Bank has established a fund to assist the victims' families with expenses and other needs. Contributions to the Farmers Bank Victims' Relief Fund may be sent to the Farmers Bank, 9833 Liberty Road, Randallstown, Md. 21133.