Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Starbucks Shooter

Routines Shattered

The dayshift manager arrived to open the Starbucks Coffee Shop at 1810 Wisconsin Avenue, on the border of the upscale Burleith and Georgetown neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., at 5:15 A.M on a hot Monday morning, July 7, 1997. The long Fourth of July weekend, always hectic for the Washington, D.C., area, was over. Nevertheless, the shop would be busy soon with commuters returning to work. She had to hurry.

The manager noticed a lone car with a flat tire in the parking lot, which seemed strange. It resembled the one that 'Caitrin', the nightshift supervisor, drove. Maybe she'd seen the flat and asked someone to drive her home. The area was safe enough to leave a car overnight.

Letting herself in, the manager saw with dismay that the place was still littered with trash. As she walked through the eating area, it seemed that something more was amiss than the nightshift's simple neglect. The store's music was still playing; seemingly no one had shut it off. It was out of character for Mary Mahoney to leave without ensuring that everything was as it should be. She was conscientious to a fault. The place just felt wrong: a stray cup on the floor, a broom leaning against the counter, the garbage not taken out, as if the cleanup had just suddenly stopped.

Mary Catherine Mahoney
Mary Catherine Mahoney

The manager continued to look around, uncertain what to make of the unkempt area, and then entered the back room to open the office. There she saw a female form in a Starbucks uniform lying on the floor. It was Mary Catherine Mahoney, and she lay disturbingly still. Around her was a dark liquid substance that looked like blood. Just beyond her, someone else was on the floor, and now it seemed clear that these two employees had been killed.

Dramatization: Starbucks Manager Finds the Bodies
Dramatization: Starbucks Manager Finds the Bodies

Running from the store onto the empty sidewalk, the manager flagged down a bus driver, according to The Washington Post, to ask for help. She was not about to remain in the shop to make an emergency call. The driver did it for her, alerting dispatchers at 911 to send the police. They responded right away.


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