A young love twisted to point of obsession Suspects: Friends say Diane Zamora was very controlling in her relationship with David Graham. Police say it led the two honor students to commit murder.

September 08, 1996|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,SUN STAFF

MANSFIELD, Texas -- It was a love that some say was strong, others obsessive. And it appears that somehow that bond became twisted, leading David Graham and Diane Zamora down the forlorn, Seton Road toward murder on Dec. 4.

The two 18-year-old honor students who within six months would be at prestigious military schools -- Graham at the Air Force Academy and Zamora at the Naval Academy -- are today in jail, charged with the murder of Adrianne Jones, a 16-year-old Mansfield High School student with dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Police say both have confessed to the crime.

The case unraveled two weeks ago in the strangest of places: the stone dormitory of the Naval Academy.

During a bull session, Zamora reportedly confided to her roommates that she had been involved with her boyfriend in a murder. Her roommates alerted academy authorities, who in turn called Texas police.

Zamora has now traded her plebe whiteworks for a prison-issue jumpsuit and her room at Bancroft Hall for a small cell in the two-story Grand Prairie, Texas, jail. She was arraigned Friday and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail. Graham is in a Fort Carson, Colo., jail cell awaiting extradition.

Residents in this rural town of 25,000, 20 miles south of Fort Worth, are relieved that the killing appears to be solved. But they are dumbfounded how two of the area's best could be involved.

"When I heard who did it, you're thinking, 'The Air Force Academy and Naval Academy?' " said Officer Frank Rogen of the school district's police force.

"We're talking about people protecting the United States of America," he added as he paused at the ticket booth during the Mansfield High School football opener.

This is an area where football is king, where people say sir and ma'am, and where Baptist churches share space with the strip malls and new housing developments creeping south from Fort Worth. There are few problems here with drugs or crime. The last murder anyone remembers was 10 years ago.

People who knew Graham and Zamora say he was quiet but had a military bearing that inspired the others in his Junior ROTC unit. They aren't so charitable with Zamora, who police say was incensed when she heard about Graham's brief relationship with Jones, and pressed Graham to "make sure she [Jones] doesn't exist," said Brad Geary, the Grand Prairie deputy police chief.

The account of the crime is brutal. According to police statements from both Graham and Zamora, Graham lured Jones to a rural stretch near Joe Pool Lake. Graham struck Jones but only stunned her. Zamora then hit Jones in the head with a barbell weight. The teen-ager fled into a field, Graham pursued and shot her twice in the head.

Graham's friends say even after the slaying, Zamora voiced bitterness about Jones. Michelle Kitchen, 16, a Mansfield sophomore, remembers attending a military ball at the Woodlawn Country Club in Fort Worth in May when the name Adrianne Jones came up. Zamora, Kitchen recalled, "said, 'I despise her with a passion.' "

"He was on a short leash with" Zamora, said Amy Franklin, 18, another Junior ROTC member, her words drowned out by the crowd roaring its support for a touchdown.

Franklin recalls falling once during an ROTC class and Graham ** helping her to her feet. Zamora later found out about it and approached her at a picnic. "She said, 'He's not supposed to touch females. He's not supposed to touch anybody,' " Franklin recalls. "She started yelling at him. She jumped all over him."

Steven Vinet, 18, who graduated with Graham from Mansfield High, said friends told Graham to be careful of Zamora "because she would take too much control. But he didn't care."

Vinet remembers Graham often showing him pictures of Zamora. The two became engaged earlier this year and planned to marry Aug. 13, 2000, when they graduated from their academies.

"They were both madly in love with one another," remembers Kevin Crawford, 16, a Mansfield High School junior, who double-dated with Graham and Zamora. Although Crawford said too, found Zamora "very controlling," she seemed "real nice, real polite to everybody."

Graham, friends say, would talk only about the Air Force, Zamora and guns. "As far as I know, he had one of the biggest collections of weapons," said Crawford, recalling a mix of rifles and handguns. Crawford said he remembered Graham giving a friend a Russian rifle as a birthday present.

Police said they found the suspected murder weapon -- a 9 mm Russian Makarov handgun -- in the attic of Graham's parents' home on Cedar Street.

Graham's classmates say he was not violent, and teachers recall that he was not troublesome in school. "David was never a discipline problem, always very respectful," said Jerry Kirby, the Mansfield High School principal.

"David Graham is not a murderer," said J. D. Cuniff, 18, who said Graham was a role model for the other students. "If I believed it, I wouldn't be here trying to defend his honor."

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