Francine E. Harris, 33, secretary, former guard

June 06, 1993|By Staff Report

A Mass of Christian burial for Francine Evangela Harris, the secretary killed Wednesday by a convicted murderer on work release, will be celebrated at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Caroline at Oliver streets, Baltimore.

Ms. Harris, 33, died after Rodney G. Stokes shot her twice in the head as she worked in a construction trailer outside the Maryland Penitentiary. Stokes, 40, who was serving a life sentence plus 10 years for a 1975 Baltimore murder, then fatally shot himself in the head.

The two had been seeing each other for about four years before she broke off the relationship the week before the shooting.

Born and reared in Baltimore and educated in city public schools, she graduated from Dunbar High School in 1977.

After graduation, she spent several years rearing her son, Dantee T. Cofield, now 18.

She later worked in clerical positions for several city businesses.

"She was a person who cared about her son," said Jovita T. Harris, her eldest sister.

"Her son came first and foremost. She lived for him."

About five years ago, Ms. Harris took a job with a private security agency and was assigned to guard a Department of Public Works yard. There, she met Stokes, an inmate who started working at the yard as a laborer in January 1989 under the prison system's work-release program.

She continued working as a security guard until 1991, when her son was diagnosed with cancer and began undergoing treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"He became her main focus," her sister said.

Then, last year, Ms. Harris began work as a secretary with the Wrecking Corp. of America, the company under contract to tear down the penitentiary's South Wing. It was in that company's construction trailer where the murder-suicide took place.

In addition to her son and sister, Ms. Harris is survived by her mother, Peggy A. Harris; three other sisters, Venice V. Holman, Glynis B. Scott and Joyce V. Harris; and three brothers, Darrell T. Harris, Pierre L. Harris and Dwayne L. Harris, all of Baltimore.

She also is survived by two aunts, Laura V. Wilson and Mary Wilson; two uncles, Roy Wilson and William Wilson; seven nieces; and six nephews. All are of Baltimore.

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