On Mondays, it is my turn to drive some local kids to Red Hawk Swim Club practice at Montclair State University. Our last stop is on Marquette Road in the northeast quadrant of Montclair and represents a typical suburban oasis of colonial, ranch and tudor-style homes. The lot sizes are small, the population of children is large. A nature reserve on the east side of the street provides a fantastic playground, as does the street itself. I am always careful to drive slowly when picking up our last passenger, because inevitably, there will be a game of football or baseball in progress, especially during these warmer days.
On Marquette is another landmark of interest: the former home of Cynthia and Richard Murphy who were arrested in part of a country-wide spy ring sting in July of 2010. The parents of two elementary school-aged children, the Murphys seemed your typical suburban family to any on the outside. To the extent that they may have had slightly differing accents, it would have gone without too much notice here in Montclair, being the heterogenious group that we are.
But the Murphys were really busy. Not only were they sifting through the lottery process to find the appropriate magnet elementary school to send their girls, they were also trying to glean security secrets like nuclear weapon details, Iraq policy, CIA leadership and congressional insider politics to report back to their Russian government intelligence superiors. The FBI had been investigating the case for years, and judging from the ages of their girls, the Murphys must have been hiding their secrets for a very long time. One can only speculate if the children, their marriage, or their gorgeous garden was part of the disguise. A 15 year-old neighbor, Jessie Gugig, said, “They couldn’t have been spies! Just look at what she did with the hydrangeas!”