She Beat Cancer, But Was Felled by Sniper

S By Jacqueline L. Salmon and William Branigin

she had two dogs, two cats and a husband she adored. She loved hiking, river rafting and skiing. She liked adventure films as well as chick flicks. She was a breast cancer survivor still undergoing physical therapy for a double mastectomy. She and her husband were about to move into a new home, and she was on the verge of becoming a first-time grandmother.

But Tuesday, Linda Gail Franklin, a 47-year-old analyst at FBI headquarters in Washington, became known for something much different: On Monday night, while out shopping with her husband, Ted, at a Home Depot in Fairfax County, Va., she became the ninth person slain by the elusive serial sniper terrorizing the Washington area.

Tuesday, friends and family remembered Franklin as an athletic, vivacious woman who embraced life, no matter what it handed her.

“Just a fun-loving, very friendly, loving, caring, giving person,” said a friend, Peggy Hulseberg, through her tears. “It’s a real loss.”

Blond, with big blue-green eyes and a wide smile, Franklin had been with the FBI for 3 1/2 years. Before that, she taught in Department of Defense schools in Japan and Belgium in the 1990s after earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Florida’s College of Education when she was 31.

While raising her two children – Katrina and Thomas Belvin – from a previous marriage, she met Ted Franklin in Okinawa. They were married eight years ago.

In 1998 she embarked on a new career when she joined the FBI as an intelligence operations specialist in the National Infrastructure Protection Center at bureau headquarters, FBI officials said.

She was “a dedicated employee, and she will be missed,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement Tuesday. “The employees who worked with Linda – and all of us – are deeply shocked and angry over this tragedy.”

The National Infrastructure Protection Center was established the same year that Franklin joined the bureau. The center investigates and responds to threats to utilities, banks, water supplies and public safety.

Officials said Tuesday they do not believe Franklin’s job played a role in her being targeted by the shooter.

Franklin’s professional career developed gradually. She enrolled in the University of Florida’s school of education in the fall of 1983, when she was 28. She previously attended Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., home also to the university.

In May 1986, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. According to the university registrar’s office, she majored in elementary education with emphasis on middle school math and science.

She had a constant menagerie of pets, on which she lavished affection. One ailing dog, Hulseberg recalled, Franklin “treated better than most people treat their relatives when they’re sick.”

Recent years had not been easy for Franklin, friends said. Her mother, who lives in Florida, was not well. And in 2001, Franklin underwent a double mastectomy; she took four months off work to recover.

But a few months ago she got some good news when she found out her daughter, Katrina, who turns 24 next month, was pregnant.

“She was going to be a grandmother in February,” said Penny Hannum, of Virginia Beach, whose son, Matthew, is married to Katrina. The couple lives in Norfolk. “They’re going to have a little boy. It would have been her first grandchild,” Hannum said.

Thomas Belvin, Katrina’s brother, lives in the Washington area and is now 25, a family friend said. In addition to her own children, Franklin helped raise a niece, another friend said.

Linda and Ted Franklin, a computer network engineer, had recently sold their two-bedroom townhouse in South Arlington, Va., and were moving into temporary housing until their new, larger home was ready, friends said. The movers were coming Friday, according to an FBI chaplain who was at the townhouse near Shirlington Tuesday, and the couple had just about finished packing.

Monday night, they were in the Home Depot parking garage, five miles from home, loading some purchases into their car when the sniper’s signature single shot hit Linda Franklin in the head.

Peggy Hulseberg’s husband, Paul, who once worked with Linda Franklin, said Ted Franklin “is doing as well as can be expected. He is a wonderful man and a loving husband.”