In 1974, a month before his 18th birthday, he was arrested on charges of raping and robbing a 23-year-old Maryland Institute, College of Art student and robbing her roommate. He'd talked his way into their midtown Baltimore apartment by posing as a social worker, according to trial testimony.
Once inside, he flashed a pistol, ordered the women to disrobe, and raped one while forcing the other to remain in a closet.
He was arrested two days later. At trial, the women identified him as their attacker, and jurors deliberated for 15 minutes before finding him guilty.
He spent nearly a decade at Patuxent, a prison for inmates with mental disorders. He escaped in 1983 from a Patuxent halfway house but was captured within 16 hours, Maryland Parole Commission records show. Six months later, he was transferred to the House of Correction.
There, in 1986, Francesca Bird became Mrs. David Lee Holland.
Such relationships aren't all that rare, say prison officials and prisoner advocates, who are endlessly amazed that educated women ignore warnings and become romantically involved with -- and even marry -- inmates. They say the women are haunted by loneliness or lured by the thrill of danger and adventure.
In fact, 765 inmates have gotten married in the past four years, state records show.
But Michael Bird recalls, "I thought this was an absolutely crazy, as in clinically insane, thing to do. . . . In retrospect it's clearly even more dangerous than I thought it was at the time."
To his former wife, the bold move was not crazy -- or the result of a do-gooder's naivete. Francey told her mother that David had been part of a gang and was not involved in the rape at all. And she thrived on the attention he gave her.
Timaria Gaither, a close friend, recalls: "She said she loved him, and that no one had ever treated her this way or paid attention to her the way he did. I used to tell her, 'Francey, of course he treats you like that. He has nothing but time to do that.' "
David also set Francey on a course that would profoundly change her life. He introduced her to the teachings of Islam.
Gaither says Francey Holland, raised Episcopalian, told her that she'd had virtually no interest in religious matters for more than two decades. But she became a devout Sunni Muslim. For her Muslim name she chose Halima Mujahid; the first name is Arabic for "mild."
They studied together for her shahada -- her formal acceptance of Allah as her God and Mohammed as his prophet.
With her new religion, came a new look. Keeping with the religion's dictates that women dress modestly, she began to wear modest blouses and long rayon skirts. She wore a khimar, a scarf that covered her hair and draped beyond her shoulders.
She became a fixture in her orthodox Islamic mosque's women's committee. She set out to learn Arabic. And most Fridays, she drove from the Meals on Wheel office in Highlandtown to services at Majid Saffat in West Baltimore's Penn-North neighborhood.
One year, she even gave her son Alan a copy of the Koran as a Christmas present.
Paroled in 1993
For Francey and David Holland, life after prison began in August 1993, when he was paroled after serving almost 19 years of his sentence.
Francey had supported her husband's release, describing him to the Maryland Parole Commission as an even-keeled prison elder respected by his work-release supervisors. "I have witnessed his maturing and expanding capabilities throughout recent years," she wrote the commission.
But the relationship soon soured.
The couple's home was a third-floor unit in The Brittany garden apartments in Pikesville. But Francey Holland's family saw little of her husband, and he was not to be found at her mosque -- worshipers there describe him as just another prisoner who discarded the religion upon leaving prison.
Kanaras, Francey's divorce lawyer, says she slowly, reluctantly, came to see David as a freeloader and philanderer. She tried to break their relationship, but he remained a source of problems.
In December 1994, they separated.
In 1995, she accused him of stealing her wallet, which contained $200, while they were in the Pikesville Giant. She went to court to obtain a restraining order against him, saying he had abused her by kicking her.
Also, she wrote that he "has told me that he would hurt me or kill me if I ever did anything to send him back to jail."
Though he was acquitted of that theft charge, David Holland, apparently unemployed for much of the time, continued to harass his estranged wife by helping himself to her belongings, Kanaras says. She had the locks changed on her apartment door.
'Oh, that's just David'
Through it all, Francey Holland continued to show her forgiving side.
"She kept saying, 'Oh, that's just David,' " Kanaras says. "She even spoke about him endearingly, which I thought was kind of weird."