Tripp vacates house in Columbia

The woman who nearly brought down a president - and brought round-the-clock media stakeouts to her suburban cul-de-sac - can no longer be counted as Columbia's most talked-about resident.

Linda R. Tripp has moved out of the Cricket Pass home where she recorded Monica Lewinsky discussing her sexual relationship with President Clinton.


Tripp has not sold the house but is living in a small cottage on a 100-acre horse farm in Marshall, Va., and has registered to vote there.

Tripp's recordings exposed the White House sex scandal that culminated in President Clinton's impeachment in December 1998. The tapes made the Pentagon staffer an instant celebrity and transformed her quiet street in the Village of Hickory Ridge into a media camp.


Reporters from around the world descended on Cricket Pass, quizzing neighbors about a woman who was celebrated in some quarters for exposing the scandal, reviled in others for betraying the confidence of a young friend.

Satellite TV trucks clogged the road, forcing residents to save their own on-street parking spots with lawn chairs. One reporter tried to infiltrate the neighborhood Super Bowl party, said Linda Rossiter, who lived across the street from Tripp.

Neighbors weren't certain when Tripp moved out, but they said a young couple - either renters or house-sitters - moved into the sky-blue Colonial about the time school started. A woman who said she lived at the house declined to comment yesterday.

Back when the sex scandal was the world's top news story, Tripp had to cover her windows with sheets to escape camera lenses she later described as "medium-sized tree limbs."

Just when the scandal began dying down, and life on Cricket Pass was getting back to normal, the story burst back onto the front pages. A Howard County grand jury indicted Tripp in July 1999 on two counts of violating Maryland's wiretap law for taping a Dec. 22, 1997, conversation with Lewinsky. State prosecutors dropped the case in May.

"I think Linda moved to try to regain privacy in her life," said Joseph Murtha, her criminal defense lawyer. "She was looking for an area that would offer her a more private environment."

Tripp seems to have found that privacy in Marshall, an area of secluded homes. It is unclear when the 50-year-old moved, but she registered to vote in Fauquier County in August.

The horse farm where Tripp lives is far more private than her Columbia residence. A long, winding driveway - past a small creek, a pond and some grazing black cattle - leads to a large stone farmhouse. A gravel driveway runs from there to Tripp's cottage.


No one answered the door yesterday at the main farmhouse, and a farm hand said Tripp did not want to talk to reporters. The property is owned by Peter Spreadbury, who declined to comment when reached by phone.

"She really wants her privacy, and I really I want to respect that," he said.

Local residents seemed fairly blase about their new neighbor. Many said Tripp was just another in a string of famous folks who have lived in the area, including actor Robert Duvall and weatherman Willard Scott.

"We're so used to celebrities in this county that nobody raised an eyebrow," said Phyllis Perkins, the county's general registrar.

Tripp's arrival did create a bit of a buzz around the county about a month ago, but locals said her celebrity staying power has been short-lived.

"She's very old news," said Marlene Pierce, a clerk at the nearby Atoka General Store & Deli. "Gossip here lasts a week before we move on to the next thing."