Banality

Russian Spies Were Networking Pros

The couples accused of being part of a deep-undercover Russian spy ring may not have acquired much information, but they were pros at being American clichés. Donald Howard Heathfield was known as a gifted networker in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with his wife, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, they made a model suburban couple. Heathfield, who stole his name from a dead 6-year-old, drew attention for his ceaseless schmoozing, handing out tons of business cards at Harvard. He headed a consulting firm; his wife was a real estate agent. Neighbors and friends describe the couple as dedicated parents who expressed banal suburban concerns, like yard work and expensive contractors. In Montclair, New Jersey, Richard and Cynthia Murphy shared chores and quizzed neighbors about the best middle schools. Signs that something was off were subtle, like when Cynthia Murphy was asked if her accent was Russian—she said no, she was from Belgium. Foley, when asked the same thing, claimed to be from Montreal.