Sometimes quiet days lead to the strangest stories. When you do not have a full day of assignments, you're likely to be the one picked by the assignment editor to cover the unexpected. So I wasn't really surprised at 10 a.m. to get a call to leave Harford County, where I had been waiting for my subject to show up for a half-hour, and head to Ocean City. Christy Freeman, who ran a taxi service in town, had been charged with murdering her baby last week, and we had just learned that bodies of three other dead infants had been found at her house.
Freeman's house on Sunset Drive was easy to find, surrounded as it was by yellow police tape, official vehicles, lots of TV trucks and gawkers wrapped in beach towels. The good news from my perspective was that there was a lot of activity to photograph, as FBI investigators were moving around while they waited for excavating equipment to clear brush in Freeman's yard.
This frame, one of many that I took of vacationers watching the activities around the house, worked for me because of the little boy framed by adults, holding a sand pail. His expression is intense, much too serious for a day at the beach, even if he didn't really comprehend the sadness of the unfolding story. The young woman at center wears a T-shirt, reading "Live, Love, Cheer," in contrast to the incomprehensible facts of mysterious deaths being investigated. All of the people seemed frozen, mesmerized into stillness by the strangeness of the grisly news that had intruded on the goal of fun, sun and escape that had brought them to Ocean City.
I transmitted a dozen photos from my laptop at a nearby Quizno's restaurant shortly after 4 p.m. When I finally got something to eat before packing up my equipment, I spoke to the kindly lady behind the counter and thanked her for letting me use a table for two hours to do my job. "How could such a thing happen?" she asked.
I smiled back sadly, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head. I didn't know either.