By analogy, the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is nothing but a string of short phrases. Yet no one could contend that this portion of Dickens’ work is unworthy of copyright protection because it can be broken into those shorter constituent components.
By 1 p.m., Philip would leave the small yellow house in Silver Spring where he lived alone. He walked a half-block, waited for the No. 5 bus, took it to his job as a taxi dispatcher, returned home, cooked a late dinner, watched Charlie Rose and went to sleep. He never locked his front door and often left it wide open. Part was defiance. This is how I live. Part was warmth. Anyone is welcome.
One February night, someone came inside — someone Philip may have known — and beat him to death. The case remains Montgomery’s only unsolved killing this year.
Philip seemed to have no secrets and no enemies. And he left behind no electronic footprints — the text messages, e-mails, cellphone logs and social-media traffic that police routinely use these days as they seek out unknown quarrels and final movements.
“Those records usually help,” said Capt. Marcus Jones, commander of Montgomery County’s major-crimes division. “We don’t have any of that.”
For Philip’s family and friends, the case brings a terrible possibility: Could everything that made the lifelong bachelor so unique, so stubborn, so confounding, so wonderful — a life rooted in rejection of instant communication — be allowing his killer to get away with it?