Frankie was one of the prettiest girls that worked the streets. To say that she worked the streets perhaps isn't really a fair overview of her. She worked the drugs. She stayed high. She had to prostitute to get the money for the drugs. She had a John that fed them to her like M&Ms. When she wasn't high, Frankie was one of the sweetest people that a person would ever want to be around or have in their home. She was basically good people, from a good family, with a good upbringing. Drugs happen.
Frankie lived in one of the three little houses at the end of my street. There were frequent visits there by local police officers - SWAT - jump out boys, not to mention the whores and crack heads.
When I first bought my house, the one I live in, it was extremely quiet by day. But that first night? Oh, it was nothing nice. Crack-hos and prostitutes everywhere. Gun shots would ring in the night air. It was from one of these houses that Frankie lived in that the first shot was fired my first night in my beautiful old historical home.
My phone rang late that night. "Are you okay?" Pam, my cousin's wife was asking. She was calling to see if I knew where the gunshot had come from.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I said. "I think it came from one of the three gray houses. I guess I'm gonna have to try to buy those to stop that crap."
What began to become a habit, a habit several times a day, I phoned the Police Department. "What is your emergency?" asked the dispatcher.
"Gunshots hvae been fired from the area of Pennsylvania and Royal Streets."
"Do you know who is doing the shooting?" she calmly asked.
"No ma'am I don't. And, I don't intend to go over and ask them either. Would you please send an officer over here now?"
Me and the dispatcher had no more hung up when the sounds of police sirens filled the night air. Hookers and pimps scattered like cock roaches when someone turns on a light. Crack pipes were extinguished. The "po po was here".
Lights and police cars and an ambulance started appearing from everywhere heading for the middle house. An officer that I knew came over to see if I was Okay.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I said "Just a little shook up to be awakened in the middle of the night like this. What do we have to do to get a good night's sleep in this neighborhood?"
"Look, I'm going to give you some names of people to talk to. Tomorrow morning, you be on the phone to them You may have to keep calling until they return your calls. Stay after them. You shouldn't have to live like this." he said.
The next morning I was on the phone before some even got to their jobs, much less had their first cup of coffee. After a dozen or so calls, I realized I was not going to get a return phone call. So, I bounced down to the police station and waited to see these guys face to face.
"You aren't going to dodge your job?" I asked one.
"Oh no ma'am," he replied.
"Good. Then since you are too busy to return my phone call I figure a face to face visit would be better. Let's talk."
I sat down with the nice Leuitinant . I was armed with dates/times of calls to the police department. I had photos of the "ho-s" who worked my streets, of the "Johns", names, car license plates..I was armed for bear. I was assured that action would be taken to assist in cleaning up this neighborhood.
Two weeks past. I began to harrass the police department again. "Sir, I'm not here to harrass you, but would you like for me to drive some of these girls to your street and let them work over there for a while?" I asked.
"Uhm no I wouldn't" he said.
"Then why is my neighborhood so special that we can't get them gone?"
After another few phone calls and a few interviews with the local television stations about our neighborhood plight, we began seeing results. Sting operations went into effect. My house was used as a surveillance point. I had cops in the attic staring out at the streets. When sitting out on the front porch, I had cops driving up and down the streets giving me signals that things were okay.
For some reason, after a while, I just knew that things were going to get better. But, I also knew we had a long row ahead of us to hoe and even with this much support coming through, I knew I couldn't just sit down. I wasn't going to be happy until it was all said and done adn folks could walk our streets again.
I had been watching Good Morning America . They had a legal advisor talking about a new law that was going into effect. They covered something about a landowner being aware that his property was being used to sell or harbor illegal drugs or acts that the property could be confiscated under a new federal law and some State laws.
Whoa! There was a new avenue! I figured it was about time to do something else. The police department was doing it job and just maybe with a little encouragement from yours truly, we could hit the landowner from the backside - his wallet. Perhaps that would expedite things.
I phoned Norris Batiste, U.S. Marshall for assistance - Norris would do what he could to help. I called the Texas Attorney General's office in Austin. Everyone wanted to ask me a hundred and one questions and all I wanted was one simple answer. After experiencing total frustration - I called the U.S. Attorney's office. There I was put in contact with a very intelligent and soft spoken female attorney named Mary Bradford. I told her what I was trying to do and why. She asked me to send her a copy of my letter that I was mailing to the landowner. She gave me her word she would follow up on the matter. I didn't trust a lot of folks, but for some reason, I trusted her.
I gathered information, names, addresses, dates and times of call outs by the police department. I began investigating. I could not type letters fast enough to Mr. Absentee Landlord, letting him know that if he didn't do something about the trash going on at his property, I planned to let the U.S. Attorney's office know about it. I quoted the law.
In all honesty, I knew nothing about the law nor how the sytem worked. I just knew I wanted this neighborhood cleaned up - and NOW.
I waited. I did not hear anything from him. I sent the letter on to Ms. Bradford. She would handle it.
Sitting at my sewing machine, working on a quilt, that bright sunny afternoon, I heard the unmistakable sound of gun fire. Then I heard a scream. I immediately grabbed the phone.
"What is your emergency?" dispatch asked. I had phoned so many times to dispatch that we were all on first name basis.
"Diane, this is LinMarie I just heard gunfire and a scream coming from the middle house on Pennsylvania and Royal."
"Did you see anything?"
"No ma'am, I was quilting. I just heard a gunshot and a scream."
Police were there within what seemed a seconds, followed by an ambulance. I knew something bad had happened that day in my neighborhood. And, I wondered if the landowner knew about it or would even care.
I walked over to the property line. I stood among the other street girls. A white girl in the midst of all the "girls". One was crying. I watched and waited. Yellow tape was put around the building. I knew there was a murder. Shortly a body bag was being hauled out of the house. This wasn't a good sign.
As one of the old timers in the neighborhood walked past, I hollered, "Joe what happened?"
"Some ole whore got shot and killed because she had called the jump out boys - he had her against the wall opened her mouth and put a 38 bullet in her head - brains is everywhere" he said.
For those of you who may not understand "jump out boys", those are men/women SWAT members who are rushed on to a scene, who jump out of a van, mostly masked, wearing black, heavy gun power, who kick in doors and do drug busts.
A cold chill went up my spine. She might have had her problems, but she never gave me any. She didn't deserve to be murdered. She had always waved and spoken to me each time she passed my house. What a difference one day to the other made.
She may have taken a bullet that belonged to me. I had called the jump out boys - many times. For a long time I wondered about Frankie, the bullet and f it were really meant for her.
Frankie's murderer turned himself in later that afternoon. There were two other girls in the house that witnessed it and knew the killer. There were articles in teh newspapers about her. Her family had put some writings in the paper about her.
I thought how, as a mother, no matter how much good or bad our children do, we worry over them, long for them to do the right things in life - and, we still love our kids.
I prayed for forgiveness that day. For some strange reason, inside of me, I felt responsible. Responsible, because I had started this clean-up effort. I had been the one making the calls and letting the cops stay in my house and do surveillance from my places. I just wanted a safe nice neighborhood.
About four years after this incident happened, through my cousin's wife, Pam, I was introduced to Pam Jardeen. Pam was Frankie's sister. She never had the chance to say good-bye to Frankie. She asked what I knew about that fateful afternoon. I told her everything and cried when I admitted that I thought Frankie might have taken the bullet meant for me.
Pam got up from my dining room table, hugged me and said, "It wasn't your fault."
At that moment I found the forgiveness I had been seeking and needed. I had since purchased the property that Frankie was killed in. I handed the keys to Pam. I told her to keep tham as long as she needed. Pam needed time in that house - to grieve - to cry - and to let go.
I think that day God opened eyes on all of us. He showed us that color doesn't matter, we all have feelings. He also blessed us that day. He took away the guilt and the grief from both of us. And, most importantly, He gave me a new friend, Pam, through such a travesty.