MANSFIELD, Texas -- Beside the track where Adrianne Jones ran, her coaches and fellow students at Mansfield High School planted a red oak tree in her honor. In front of the tree stands a bronze plaque with a simple motto: "Strength, Unity, Courage."
The epitaph was written just two weeks after her slaying Dec. 4, nine months before the arrest of a Naval Academy midshipman and an Air Force Academy cadet would catapult the killing onto the national newscasts. Yet it is an oddly apt commentary on this lurid slaying in the suburbs of Fort Worth that have seen more than their share of such murders.
What makes Diane Zamora and David Graham most unexpected as murder suspects is not just that they were 18-year-old honor students from middle-class families. It is that they killed, they later confessed, in the name of virtues like those attributed to their victim.
In the distorted vision that grew from their intense relationship, they were re-establishing their own unity, which had been threatened by Graham's one-time sexual indiscretion with 16-year-old Adrianne.
In their mirror world, victim and villains changed places, and they were demonstrating strength and courage by taking swift action to right an intolerable wrong.
They were, in the words of Graham's statement to police, restoring their "perfect and pure" relationship, which had been stained by "that one girl that had stolen from us our purity."
On the cusp of adulthood, as each seemed ready to rescue the other from family turmoil they wanted to escape, they pulled each other into an abyss. In the name of fidelity, justice and love, police say, they committed a crime of brutality.
Until their arrests, the two were the image of success. But interviews with their relatives and friends and inspections of court records suggest that everything was not as it seemed.
Their families were indeed middle-class, "good Christian people," the recurring phrase of friends and neighbors. But the parents' marriages were deeply troubled, in Zamora's case by financial hardship and the same issue of male infidelity that would lead to the slaying.
Graham and Zamora were top students with impressive resumes, but both were also controlling personalities whose romantic involvement struck friends as dangerously obsessive.
And the killing seems to have grown from the very soil of their lives. The virtues of their prayer groups and gun shows, athletic contests and close-order military drill were perverted to provide the means and the motive to kill. The weapons were a barbell and a 9 mm Russian handgun from Graham's collection. The rationale -- purity, vengeance -- echoed their families' deep roots the literal Christianity of their evangelical upbringing.
To Barri Rosenbluth, a Texas social worker who studies teen-agers' sexual passion and violence as director of the Teen Dating Violence Project in Austin, the Jones slaying did not seem inexplicable.
"It's exaggerated," Rosenbluth says, "but it's not so different from what I see every day." It underscores, she says, "the difficulty young people have with the intensity of their relationships, their feelings of jealousy and anger."
Teen-agers are taught about sex, she says, but nothing prepares them to handle the overpowering emotions that come with it.
"In what class does anyone deal with how to handle your boyfriend having an affair?" Rosenbluth asks. "The only information they have is from TV and movies. They resort to highly stereotyped roles -- she needs to be pure and virginal, and he needs to avenge her honor."
By the time Zamora met Graham in the teen-age military rituals of the Civil Air Patrol, her parents were in a devastating cycle of bust and recovery. Gloria and Carlos Zamora always dressed elegantly and kept their yard fastidiously trimmed. But he slid from a mid-level management job to a mall pretzel stand to unemployment. His several years without work made life tumultuous for the four children.
In the past six years, the couple sought bankruptcy protection four times, lost two houses and moved repeatedly, a step ahead of creditors. Diane Zamora, the diligent eldest daughter, studied by candlelight when the power was cut off.
As her mother pursued a doctorate in nursing and worked two or three jobs to make ends meet, Zamora was often left to care for her sister and two brothers. "She had to grow up pretty quickly," says Sylvia Gonzalez, her aunt.
Zamora seemed to be "starving for love and attention," says her aunt. Yet Zamora also told her many aunts, uncles and cousins in her close-knit family that she wouldn't let marriage or children delay her dream of becoming an astronaut.
At Templo Juan 3: 16, the evangelical church run by her grandparents in a Mexican-American Fort Worth neighborhood, she studied the Bible with the "Missionettes." And she vowed to remain a virgin until marriage.