Family torn by deadly crash and prosecution

Husband is jailed in wife's death

relatives take sides

April 30, 2007|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun reporter

Each Saturday, Ted Sophocleus visits the grave of his middle daughter in Woodlawn, catching her up on the news of the past week, tidying up and leaving flowers for her.

The ritual brings scant comfort to Sophocleus, a state delegate from Linthicum still mourning the loss of Dina Sophocleus Furrow, who died in July 2005 when she was pitched head-first from her husband's motorcycle into a guardrail on her 38th birthday.

A short drive away, Stanley R. Furrow, 41, is in a cell, sentenced April 20 to a year in the Anne Arundel County jail after being convicted of manslaughter and driving his Harley- Davidson while drunk.

For nearly a year, Stanley's sister in North Carolina has been raising Tristan, the Furrows' 6-year-old son, far from his Pasadena home and his father, who was badly hurt in the crash.

Dina's severely disabled teenage son, whom she raised with Stanley, is living in the Point Pleasant area with his father, Dina's ex-husband.

Though united in their love for Dina, a pharmacist with an adventurous streak, her death and the prosecution of her husband have divided the once-cordial families.

The Sophocleus family holds Stanley responsible, said his lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill.

"The family issues -- that is just the hardest thing," Stanley said in an interview from jail.

He has contended from the first moments after the accident that he lost control of his motorcycle on a ramp from Route 10 to the Baltimore Beltway because a vehicle cut him off -- that the crash was not caused by alcohol.

Stanley's family sided with him; hers did not. An Anne Arundel jury found him at fault. He plans to appeal.

"Everyone got devastated in this accident," said his sister, Melissa Mayer.

By any account, Dina was an accomplished woman -- a supervisor of several pharmacies for Shoppers Food Warehouse, her father said. She had learned so much as a toddler playing school with her elder sister Eve as the make-believe teacher that she skipped first grade, Sophocleus said.

At age 20, she married. The seven-year union produced a son, Nicholas, now 16. He is developmentally disabled and has the mental capacity of a toddler.

Dina and Stanley, who both attended the old Andover High School, met again in a Pasadena bar and were wed in 1999. Stanley is a brawny former Army Ranger who worked as a scuba instructor and driver for local movie productions before starting a home improvement business.

Dina was always adventurous -- Sophocleus recalled how she loved roller coasters -- and developed new hobbies such as scuba diving, bungee jumping and motorcycle riding with Stanley.

They were an active and happy couple, Mayer said.

Stanley was proud of his wife's education and earning power, Mayer said, and Dina found his protectiveness appealing.

"She was everything that would ever make me want to get up and breathe in the morning," Stanley said at his sentencing.

Besides raising the two boys, the couple took in the son of a former girlfriend of Stanley's when the 14-year-old was released from a juvenile detention home. Sean Harvey, now 23, credits Dina and Stanley with being fantastic surrogate parents and said that he would never have finished high school without them.

Dina "gave me things I never had," Harvey said. "She taught me to be responsible, and she taught me I'd want to have nice things and to work for them."

Stanley, whom he calls "Dad" but who is not Harvey's biological father, taught him work skills and gave him a job, and the Sophocleus family welcomed him to family events.

Dina's sisters painted a less flattering picture of Stanley in court. Elena Thomas, her younger sister, said he jumped from job to job, that Dina argued with him over drinking when he was riding, and that she was afraid of her husband. Eve Weese, the eldest, also said that he drank, and she wept as she spoke of Stanley having a girlfriend soon after his wife's death.

Just as the sisters said they were tight with Dina, Mayer maintained that she was, too -- so much so that Dina wrote her a letter saying that she was closer to her than to her "blood sisters" as she straddled a world that included her family's political activities, her professional role and her fun-loving side. With Stanley and his family, Dina could cut loose, Mayer said.

On July 30, 2005, the couple had turned down her parents' dinner invitation and stuck with plans to go on a poker run. They were among about 70 riders vying for the best poker hand from the cards they'd pick up going from restaurant to restaurant.

They became separated from the group when they were stopped by an Anne Arundel police officer who saw Stanley's bike swerve. Dina, a woman on the ride testified, tried to touch a woman in a car.

The officer let them go.

Minutes later, the motorcycle crashed on the Route 10 ramp in Glen Burnie. Dina died instantly, and Furrow suffered back and neck injuries and mangled his right arm and hand.

"In the hospital, he was crying, `My wife, she's dead. I killed her,'" Mayer said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.