Neighbors wary after murder
By Kevin Woster, Journal Staff Writer
Rapid City Journal; Rapid City, South Dakota
This story ran: Thursday April 29, 2004, 2004
RAPID VALLEY - The people on Gypsey Road are holding their children tight these days.
They're watching visitors more closely.
And most of all, they're slowly absorbing the fact that one of their neighbors — a seemingly isolated man who few here really knew — has been charged with murder.
As 41-year-old Neil Frame waits in Pennington County Jail for his next court appearance on a first-degree murder charge, the neat, split-level home he shared with his wife, Lora, at 3030 Gypsey Road is the focus of neighborhood speculation and drive-by gawkers.
It was there, investigators believe, in the gray house with the new siding and poorly tended lawn that the retired military man with no known criminal record killed a 21-year-old California woman who had come to his home to sell magazines.
His motives are still unclear, investigators say, but Frame now faces the possibility of a death sentence if found guilty on the charge.
Kristina Moore's body was found in a field near Hermosa last Friday, two days after she disappeared while selling magazine subscriptions door to door in Rapid Valley.
Frame turned himself in to authorities Monday evening and was charged with first-degree murder a few hours later. That lingering reality felt as chilly as the gusty northwest wind that ruffled the lawns and shrubbery along Gypsey Road on Wednesday afternoon.
"It was a big shock," Mike Wagner said from his driveway across the street from Frame's home. "I didn't know him (Frame). He kept pretty much to himself. The only time you ever saw the guy was shoveling the walk or something like that."
Wagner moved into the neighborhood about four years ago. He and his wife have a 4-year-old daughter and still love the lifestyle in a relatively new neighborhood filled with children and promise.
"I still think it's safe around here," he said.
Down the street a few houses, Jeff Benson shares the same sense of security for himself and his family. "It's still a good neighborhood. That hasn't changed," he said. Benson has lived on Gypsey Road for six years. He never knew Frame during that time. Neither did James Haywood, who lives across the street and a few houses north of Frame's home. But Haywood did meet Kristina Moore. She stopped at his house with a smile and sales pitch the evening she disappeared.
"She was really personable and friendly," Haywood said. "I think it was about 7 or so. It wasn't dark yet."
Haywood didn't buy a magazine subscription or let Moore in the house. He didn't speak to her for long, either. He said others have told him that the magazine sales crews, composed mostly of young people, are taught to get into the house if possible to increase their chances of making a sale. "I just don't think that's very smart, especially for a girl," Haywood said.
A police report included with Frame's felony file indicated that he bought a magazine from Moore, paid with a check and then, for reasons as yet unexplained, grew agitated. The report said he struck Moore with a pry bar, then strangled her. She was found with a plastic band pulled tight around her neck.
It's a gruesome tale that seems far removed from the neat homes, bright green lawns and scattering of bicycles and plastic toys up and down Gypsey Road. Sheena Hernandez, who lives with her parents at the far end of the block, said people were both unsettled and comforted by Frame's arrest.
Before Moore's death, children played freely up and down the street, and parents felt secure that they were safe, Hernandez said. Now, although most still are confident of their kids' safety, they also take extra precautions, she said.
"It was a relief knowing they found the person," Hernandez said. "But I think everybody has put a few more restrictions on their kids."
Wagner held his own 4-year-old daughter as he spoke of watching authorities come to the gray house across the street on the night Frame turned himself in. He watched them load Frame's pickup truck onto a flatbed truck the next morning, and he saw Frame's wife return to the home this week, to eventually leave with some suitcases.
The house looked unoccupied Wednesday afternoon. The curtains in the front picture window were closed. A birdbath in the front yard was tipped over. Border stones lay in a haphazard arrangement in the flower bed.
The only signs of life were two yellow tulips, shivering in the wind near the front door.
In the street, a blue car slowed as its occupants stared and pointed at the home. Then, it moved on down Gypsey Road, where murder used to seem a world away.
Contact Kevin Woster at 605-394-8413 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This Article was published online on Thursday, April 29, 2004
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Rapid City Journal
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