Donald Heathfield was a man on the go. Neighbors rarely saw him, except for sometimes when he was returning from his travels, rolling a small suitcase up to the door of his Cambridge, Mass., home. But on July 1, Heathfield was handcuffed, his legs shackled, as he was escorted into a courtroom in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. He sat restless, repeatedly crossing and uncrossing his arms, at times pulling them closer to his chest, and frequently leaning forward as prosecutors outlined the case against him and his partner, a woman known as Tracey Lee Ann Foley. He barely spoke, mostly nodding when questioned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal. Foley, who for years claimed to be Heathfield's wife, sat still, occasionally resting her chin on her hand as she listened intently to her lawyer Robert Sheketoff's advice. The couples' real names are undisclosed, but as of Thursday, they have another identity Defendants Four and Five in the strange case of American suburban espionage.
Heathfield and Foley are two of eleven people arrested in recent days in New York, northern Virginia, New Jersey, Cyprus and Boston on suspicion of being Russian spies. The U.S. arrests took place on June 27 after a seven-year, federal investigation of a suspected espionage ring seeking information on U.S. government policy. The 11th arrest was made in Cyprus.
The FBI believes the accused were "placed together and cohabit in the country to which they are assigned" and were told to "often have children together," as this "deepens an illegal's legend," according to the affidavit. Heathfield and Foley's "legends" Tim Foley, 20, and Alex Foley, 16 sat in the back of the courtroom Thursday. "My client and his wife right now are worried about their kids," Heathfield's attorney Peter Krupp said after the hearing in which he and Sheketoff requested that they be able to speak with their clients together in lockup to discuss custody issues. The request was granted after the hearing.
"I read the complaint affidavit in terms of facts alleged against my client and his wife," Krupp said. "It's extremely thin. It essentially suggests that they successfully infiltrated neighborhoods, cocktail parties and the PTA."
But former neighbors say the couple was noticeably absent from the community. "They didn't strive for networking here," says former neighbor Lila Hexner. "They didn't do anything." Until shortly before their arrest, the couple lived in a townhouse unit at 111 Trowbridge Street in Cambridge, sandwiched between other homes that shared the same cream-colored siding and brown trim. Hexner, who lives on their block, remembers that they did not attend meetings with residents of the other townhouses.
Hexner said she would see Foley, who claimed to be a real estate agent from Canada, outside every Tuesday night, bringing the trash out for the Wednesday pickup. Foley was what Hexner called "charming" and would talk with neighbors and ask how they were. But Heathfield, she says, was rarely there. Members of the neighborhood assumed the Harvard Kennedy School graduate was keeping up with the demands of being a consultant and running his business, Future Map Strategic Advisory Services LLC. When they did encounter him, they say he was "dismissive."
Unlike Heathfield and Foley, spy suspects Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, N.J., were active in their community. But not in any nefarious way. Neighbor Norma Skolnik, 67, says she remembered the Murphys joining neighborhood block parties. Richard Murphy, whose neighbor Mary Chalek, 56, thought was simply a stay-at-home dad, was seen walking his two elementary school aged daughters Kate and Emily, to and from the bus stop every day.
Although the sultry, red-headed suspect, Anna Chapman, has become the face and figure of the scandal, most everything about the suspects seemed quotidian even boring. In Yonkers, N.Y., neighbors of suspects Vicky Pelaez and Juan Lazaro said they mostly noticed the couple's loud, large Schnauzer dogs. Neighbor Alanna Brady says that once after one of the dogs jumped the fence that separates her house from the couple's, Lazaro told her the reason he owns dogs. "He said when they were living in South America, they had their home broken into while his wife was at home and it really scared her," she said. "So they got dogs."
Brady also said she could often hear classical music wafting from Lazaro and Pelaez's house. Neighbor Kristina Alaverdian, 31, who is a classical pianist from Russia, said that Lazaro told her that his son was also a pianist. "He said that his son was a great pianist who studied at Mannes School of Music and that he had a strict Russian piano teacher," she said. "He told me because he knew I was Russian." Alaverdian says Lazaro seemed to her to have Russian features and knew enough about the country that she was once moved to ask him if he was also from Russia. "He said no, he's Spanish from South America," she said. On Thursday, reports surfaced that Lazaro admitted that the name "Juan Lazaro" was an alias. Moscow officials have admitted that all the suspects are Russians.
Heathfield and Foley's old residence at 111 Trowbridge is abandoned now, with three of the four windows supporting flower box holders with no flowerpots. After several years of living there, the couple moved to a larger home on the same tree-lined road. Unlike their former residence, their new home has a yard and is a closer walk to Harvard Square. At the end of their yard, where the walkway meets the redbrick sidewalk, stands a neighborhood watch sign advising the community to report suspicious activity. But, MIT professor Richard Stanley, who lives two doors down, says there was no reason to distrust his new neighbors. "These people seemed completely harmless." With reporting by Nate Schweber/Yonkers and Montclair