A Friend To Die For

kirsten-costasLeft; Kirsten M. Costas as a child and right photo shows her as a teenager (right)

Kirsten Costas was a 15-year-old Freshman who attended Miramonte Highschool in Orinda in Northern California.  She was a petite, wavy-haired brunette who was described as popular among her peers. Outgoing, witty, sarcastic and confident are just a few charactor-traits that describe  her. She had a good home life and was the oldest of two children. She enjoyed going to school and excelled in many different things including being a member of the varsity swim team, cheerleader, she worked in the student office and was a member of the “Bobbies”, a sorority that female students attempted to be part of but only a small chosen few achieved.

bernadette-protti-school-photo

Freshman class photo of Bernadette Protti (She looks fairly decent in this photo but the photos below in this story will show her looks were often unappealing.)

Bernadette Protti, then 16, was also a student who attended Miramonte High School. She was described as a quiet “bookworm” who studied and received good grades, and someone who had alot of potential when it came to education. She was respectful to teachers and always got her school work done, attended church, arrived to class each day on time, had a good family upbringing. Your typical good teenager who didn’t rebel.

However, from a students point of view Bernadette was kind but a bit of a follower. Every teenager wishes they were ‘popular’ but many aren’t and learn to accept it. Bernadette was the few who refused to accept it. She rarely went out on weekends mainly due to the fact that she was never invited to social-outings, which bothered her because she wanted so badly to be socially accepted.

She was a huge wannabe according to students who grew up with her. She was anxious around many of the popular students, almost on the verge of being socially awkward. She had low confidence, was insecure and had fantasies of being popular. even attempting to become a cheerleader which, by the way, she failed to do.

The closest she had to the in-crowd was a childhood friend who she grew up with and attended church with. They drifted apart as they entered middle and high school and the childhood friend was paired with Kirsten Costas and her clique, while Bernadette didn’t really fit-in or have a clique, but she did however, have a friend. They were average students on the social-rank, maybe slightly lower but not the lowest rank. They didn’t really stand out and many didn’t know who they were.

Bernadette had a hidden obsession with Kirsten. Why? because Kristen was everything she wasnt. She described her in court as “being good at everything”. She not only had the grades, she had the popularity, boys, social life, style, personality and confidence. The severity of Bernadette’s obsession to be accepted would become apparent a little later down the road.

Everyone at Miramonte High School knew Kirsten even if they never met her, they knew who she was. Bernadette had a class with Kirsten but was mainly ignored. She was quiet and reserved and the only times she would get up close to the in crowd was when her childhood friend was speaking to her in their presence.

Bernadette knew that being friends with Kirsten was her biggest chance at popularity because she over-shadowed her friends and although she tried on several occasions to make small talk with Kirsten, her efforts were always subtly rejected, rebuffed or quickly forgotten. Kirsten popularity and confidence made her a little high maintenance and somewhat stuck up. She had her friends, she had the boys, she had a good family, she had everything and didn’t have room reserved for someone like Bernadette who, in Kirsten’s eyes, was just a follower lurking in the background.

Bernadette started taking up babysitting and used the money to purchase trendy name-brand clothing. She put a hard effort into her appearance in yet another attempt to impress but her stylish attempts were not recognized and it even backfired on her one time.

kirsten-costas-1981

Full body-shot photo of Kirsten Costas (photo is believed to have been taken during a her highschool ski-trip)

In 1985 students go on a ski-trip vacation. Bernadette was super excited to be spending the weekend sharing a dorm-like room with Kirsten and her friends. Finally she thought, a chance to bond. She went out a purchased what she thought was a stylish ski-outfit. Kirsten didn’t think so and made a snide remark on it, sarcastically asking her if she purchased it at a thrift store, which is a second-hand clothing store that sells outfits at an inexpensive price. The store has a low reputation and many assume that families with low-income go there for deals.

Although she didn’t show it, Bernadette was highly upset at the comment and quietly dwelled on it for several days.

Her efforts persisted however. She was definitely a follower and joined many of the same activities as Kirsten’s clique, including a job at the student office where she worked besides Kirsten. Kirsten would ask her to do ‘favors’ that, if caught, could have made Bernadette lose her office privileges. Bernadette agreed and took the chance in an effort to win her admirer over which never worked. She never gained the respect of Kirsten and started becoming more desperate.

This came after her attempt to join the cheerleading squad, which she didn’t make by the way.

Kirsten apparently never took Bernadette seriously. Bernadette was just a child-friend of one of her friends who followed them when she had the opportunity. She never had to struggle with popularity so she wouldn’t have possibly understood the severity and state-of-mind of someone like Bernadette. I’m sure if she knew what the overly sensitive, high-strung teenager was really capable of, she would have stood clear from the gecko. But she didn’t and had no fear of someone like Bernadette who was just a ‘harmless wannabe’ in her eyes.

One night when Bernadette was hanging with (only) close friend, the friend mentioned a party in which a few older high-school boys were throwing. The friend’s sibling was going so she automatically got an invite and decided to bring Bernadette along for company. Bernadette was thrilled at the idea. She instantly thought of inviting Kirsten to this party. She now had the opportunity to show Kirsten that she was going to be at a party thrown by popular high school boys. She rushed to the phone and called the Costas home and when Mrs. Costas answered she told her that she was a “bobbie”, which is a school sorority in which Kirsten was part of, and that they were throwing her daughter a surprise dinner as part of being a new member of the sorority. Mrs. Costas told the caller that she will inform Kirsten and asked what she should wear in which Bernadette replied, something nice but casual for a night out. She didn’t give Kirsten’s mother her name so Kirsten didn’t know exactly who was going to arrive to pick her up, all she knew was that she had to be ready for 8:30PM.

kirstencostashouse

Photo above of Kirsten Costas home on Orchard Road, and below is her parents, Arthur and Berit Costas.

kirstencostasparents

It’s Saturday evening, June 23, 1984 — Kirsten’s parents and brother had already left to attend a dinner for Peter’s little league team. Kirsten is excited and getting ready for her 8:30PM surprise. She attempts to figure it out beforehand and calls a couple of friends that she believes will give up the secret easily. They, also bobbies, tell her that there is no bobbie surprise and that they didn’t know what she was talking about. She somewhat believed them but thought maybe they were just telling her there was no party to keep the surprise going.

bernadette-protti

Pictured; Bernadette Protti

8:30PM, June 23, 1984 — A car honks its horn outside the Costas residence. Kirsten comes outside to find out who is behind this ‘surprise’ dinner. By this point she’s still curious and still planning on going out. She walks outside, leaving the TV on, to the mustard-colored, less than appealing Pinto and discovers Bernadette behind the wheel. Her excitement turns to amusement. Bernadette isn’t someone she would consider a fun person to spend a weekend night out with. She asks her what’s going on and that there was no bobbie dinner. Bernadette excitedly tells her that she just made it up and that the real surprise is even better. After being asked more than once, Bernadette finally tells her that there’s a party being thrown by (name of students unknown). Kirsten says alright and gets in the car and they drive off.

On their way to the party Kirsten asks Bernadette to pull over in an empty parking lot so she could smoke some weed. She notices a butcher knife and asks Bernadette about it who in return laughs, and tells her that her sister takes it in the car to cut fruits and vegetables. Kirsten thinks nothing of it and instead turns her attention on the party, asking her who was going and how she had gotten invited. When she learned the truth that Bernadette hadn’t exactly been invited she became annoyed and said she was going to walk into a party that she wasn’t invited too. Bernadette tried explaining that it’s ok but kept getting cut off by Kirsten, who told her that she wasn’t going to embarrass herself and to just take her home. Bernadette became desperate and in a loud-tone said “NO, that would spoil everything”, in which Kirsten responded “There was never anything to spoil”.

By this point it was getting close to 9PM. Bernadette was getting increasingly desperate and felt this incident was the final blow to any chances she had at a decent reputation. Her last attempt was to plead with Kirsten. She asked her why she had to be so mean. Kirsten rolled her eyes in response. — She then told Kirsten that all she wants to do is be her friend and how much she admired her and wanted to be like her.

If Bernadette was hoping for sympathy she surely didn’t get it.

Kristen at this point was “weirded out” and told her that she was pathetic and was acting like she was in love with her. When Bernadette tried explaining herself she was called a weirdo.

By this point Kirsten was out of Bernadette’s vehicle and fled to the nearest house, knocked on the door and was met by an older couple, Alex and Mary Jane Arnold. She asked if she could use their phone to call for a ride. She explained to them, while pointing to Bernadette’s car in the distance, had “gone weird” on her.

Bernadette was bawling, she knew she blew it and her already rocky reputation was going to be tarnished forever. She was frantic and knew Kirsten was going to make her the butt of the joke at school. She felt that she was going to be the laughing-stock and needed to silence Kirsten before she could ruin her name even more.

When Kirsten could not reach her parents by telephone Alex Arnold offered to drive her home.  On the ride to drop her off he noticed the pinto following them and asked Kirsten if everything was okay with her and her friend, to which Kirsten replied “Yeah, she’s just a little weird”.

Kirsten was supposedly calm during the ride and talked about school and activities. They pulled up to her home on Orchard Road and she stepped out of the car, thanking Mr. Arnold.

She made it to the front door, which was locked, and knocked. That’s when she noticed Bernadette walking towards her fast, yet silent. Bernadette muttered the words “I would have taken you home” too which Kirsten replied, in a loud tone, “Go Away! You are so weird” — Without warning, Bernadette started stabbing her. Kirsten screamed and Bernadette ran off.

Arnold, sitting in his car, witnessed the incident which he thought was a fist fight. He attempted to follow Bernadette’s car but by this point she was long gone. She had fled after the fifth stab. Kirsten neighbor’s heard her screams and came out and noticed her lying on the ground. They called police and comforted the dying teenager until the ambulance came.

Neighbors heard Kirsten’s screams and noticed her lying down in blood. The ambulance was called and she was comforted. She is reported to have struggled, saying “I can’t breathe”, followed by a gurgling noises. She was choking on her own blood and was mortally wounded.

The ambulance raced her to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. A stab wound had gone through a major artery.

She was just one month short of her 16 birthday.

kirsten_costas

Everyone was shocked and hundreds attended her funeral, including Bernadette who was seen by witnesses crying.

Investigators were at Miramonte High School the upcoming week, questioningg students and having many taking lie detector tests. Bernadette was one of the chosen ones who took the test. It came back inconclusive which didn’t point to guilt, but didn’t point to innocence either. She was asked where she was on the night of the murder. Her (fake) alibi went unverified and Kirsten’s murder went unsolved for six months.

Rumors and theories quickly spread threw-out school. Students were pointing fingers, but none pointing to Bernadette, the quiet wannabe who secretly idolized Kristen.

Many students harassed a girl who they believed was responsible for Kirsten’s murder. The student was labelled a ‘goth’ and Kirsten use to pick on her, so many assumed she freaked and murdered her in revenge.

The next half a year Bernadette lived her outward appearance as normal as possible, but inside she was holding a deep dark secret which gave her overwhelming guilt.

Six months later Investigators went over all their evidence, they finally had a person-of-interest. Bernadette Protti.

The real Angela Delvecchio

Photo to the left is Bernadette in Court during her trail – Right photo is a school photo

After attempting to confirm her alibi and rereading her lie detector test, investigators realized they had no evidence so they decided to give Bernadette another lie-detector-test which proved, in their mind, her guilt. The test showed some lies and some inconclusive. They interrogated Protti in an attempt to gain a confession.. After speaking with a FBI officer.Protti wrote her mother a letter in which she made a full confession.

Bernadette claimed to have found the kitchen knife by chance, and her elder sister Gina testified in court that she used to have that knife in her car to cut her vegetables. The Costa’s did not believe her story – they claimed that nobody would use an 18-inch-long knife to slice tomatoes and that Protti, casually dressed on that evening, never intended to take Kirsten to a party, but had planned to murder her.

Bernadette Protti was sentenced to a maximum of 9-years, but was released 7-years later on parole. She was released from prison in 1992 at the age of 23 she left Ventura County. She changed her name, got married (name change again after marriage). And I believe had children, not sure how many to be exact.

 The Costas left Orinda and moved to Hawaii. They did state that they didn’t agree with Bernadette’s release and were disappointed with the Justice System.

kirstencostas

Kirsten Marina Costas (July 23, 1968 – June 23, 1984)

Left; Tori-Spelling played ”Stacey Lockwood” who depicted Kristen Costa, Right; Kellie-Martin played ”Angela ”Angie” Delvecchio.”

This murder-case attracted alot of attention, and in 1994, the case was made into a life-time movie called ”A friend to die for”, or the UK title, ”Death of a cheerleader”.  In the movie, the story is told from Bernadette’s point of view, she is portrayed as the real victim who killed her classmate, while Kirsten Costas is portrayed as a mean-spirited bully, constantly teasing girls who were ‘socially below her.’.

A friend to die for did a good-job matching the personalities of both Kirsten and Bernadette. although somewhat exaggerated. According to an individual who attending the same school as the two girls during the early/mid 80’s, the only thing that was a bit off was the appearance. Kirsten Costa was younger than her killer, and shorter with brown hair, while the lifetime-movie depicted her as a  tall-blonde who is a little bit older than the jealous Bernadette.  Bernadette Protti however, is blonde in real-life and  taller than Kirsten.

A friend to die for AKA Death of a cheerleader – YouTube

The group, ‘Seeing Means More‘, named a song “Bernadette
Protti

Although the story below was published in Ladies’ Home Journal — and was the topic of the 1994 made-for-TV movie “Death of a Cheerleader”/”A Friend to Die For” starring Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin — this story has personal meaning to me, because I was a student at the same school. Along with the rest of the town, I watched this whole tale unfold sadly and slowly during the course of several months.
In addition to presenting the story as it was published in November of 1985, I have also added some photos from my own collection, including one from a trip Kirsten and I both took to Washington DC with a school group, as well as other pictures from our ’85 class yearbook.

664 responses to “A Friend To Die For

  1. Make NO mistake. This was a premeditated murder. Bernadette/Jeannette was a stalker. She was obsessed with Kirsten. In her mind Kirsten was everything she wasn’t. Bernadette/Jeanette stabbed and sliced Kirsten FIVE times. She did not just stab Kirsten she stabbed and then pulled the 18-inch knife making two 2 foot wounds and another 15 inch wound.

    Some Bernadette/Jeannette case quotes:

    “I have an inferiority complex,” she once told Cathy. “I’m ugly. No guys like me. I’m so deformed. Look at my body, my hair. My clothes are so blah.”

    “Testimony established that Protti felt rejected. Costas, a cheerleader and varsity swimmer, became a symbol for her of the success and popularity she could not achieve.”

    “Oda said Protti was determined to kill Costas if Kirsten did not agree ”to be her friend and get her into the in-crowd.”

    “He called Protti’s confession to authorities ”self-serving” and said that she was without remorse until she realized her arrest was imminent.”

    “Bernadette also felt embarrassed by her house, where paint peeled from outside walls, and furniture was older than in other Orinda homes. Bernadette told friends she longed for a modern, expensive-looking house with “Laura Ashley walls and Vogue furniture” — the kind of place she saw her friends living in.”

    “Asked what Kirsten had done to make her angry, Bernadette said: “I have a lot of inferiority feelings — and I really have bad feelings about myself. I lost for cheerleader. I didn’t get into the club I wanted to. I didn’t get on yearbook. So, I don’t know, I just felt bad.”

    ”She has a hidden trigger that anyone can pull just by not giving (her) what she thinks she should get in a relationship.”

  2. There is no doubt that Jeanette/Bernadette and the Jeanette Tomanka “household tips” person are one in the same. Jeannette/Bernadette’s old Linked In showed that she was a nurse and medical writer. Now that Linked In shows her as the “household tips” blogger. Very disturbing.

  3. Thank you Emma! I have read those quotes before. THE most disturbing of ALL, to me, is when the FBI Profiler said, “The killer had little or no remorse”; and apparently Bernadette said, “That sounds like me.” Check out “Murderpedia.com” It has the most comprehensive and true information regarding this case. For all of those people out there that believe that Kirsten bullied Bernadette: That is an ABSOLUTE LIE and completely erroneous information. Everyone needs to be aware of what REALLY happened!!

  4. It is clear that Bernadette acted impulsively that night, although it is just as clear many things had been recently piling on in her mind. The one detail no one ever explained was her being dressed in sweats and T shirt. Until now.

    You can tell from Bernadette’s account of the parking lot time that she’s leaving something out and/or basically lying. She hesitates and restates her case, and says that “she (Kirsten) just put me down”. This is true, but Bernadette uses the alleged fact that SHE didn’t want to smoke pot as the reason. Which isn’t so humiliating; in fact, it’s kind of goody-goody. But remember, Bernadette was willing to do anything to prevent the truth from coming out, so why would she voluntarily confess the details, especially when Kirsten wasn’t around to dispute them? And why would Kirsten bring pot if she thought she was going to dinner with her friends who would NOT have smoked?

    And even though parents are sometimes shocked to find out their “little girl” is smoking pot; nonetheless they AND other people GASPED out loud when that detail was read out loud in the courtroom. The mother implied to Carol Pogash that Kirsten MAY have tried it, but absolutely insisted she did not have her own supply. Furthermore, one of Bernadette’s friends was quoted as saying the Bernadette even smoked pot at least once in order to fit in, which totally makes sense because we know how desperately she wanted to fit in.

    The only scenario that makes all the logic fit together is this: Bernadette took pot in order to impress Kirsten. Bernadette has FIVE much older siblings and could have had one of them procure it for her, or taken it secretly from their bedroom, or it’s not hard to find in most high schools if you really want it, and we know she stopped at nothing to plan so this night went perfectly. Remember, she was NOT going to dinner and she had set it up so she only honked the horn and didn’t have to show herself at the front door, so the fact she was in casual clothes made perfect sense for the evening she was planning.

    I also think Bernadette would have had a hard time admitting bringing the pot since that would have shocked and disappointed her parents even more, not to mention making her seem even more desperate and yes, weird. This is probably the reaction that she got from Kirsten and why she left the car.

  5. I’m really suspicious about the people posting on here. I asked Elizabeth and the web administrator why they can’t simply post a current picture of Bernie for others to see. No answer even though they’ve read my earlier post. Also, I noticed the person using ‘BeautyInTheBeast’ is also the same person using the name handle ‘Andera’.

    So I’m wondering how many distinct people are on this website and how many are using different alias. I work in IT so there is no way in hell I’m giving my email address JUST to see a current picture of the psycho.

    • Darn right i am using an alias and that was a mistake to use my name.I went to miramonte and didn’t want Bernadette or anyone knowing my identity. Thanks for calling me out:(
      I lived through that horrible nightmare and i , like many others, are afraid of what would happen if a sociopath snaps or is pushed to despair.no matter how remote it is because she lives in texas. So no need to be suspicious or paranoid. I simply posted from my ipad one time and my computer other times and made the mistake.
      I really wanted to keep my identity confidential….guess i will have to change it again or just read and not comment. I know every detail of every person involved and was simply trying to give people an honest insight. Do not put me in the category of some of the kooks on here that have no idea how to punctuate or even have a clear thought for that matter. Thank you.

      • You used the same email address when you used 2 different aliases. It doesn’t take a genius to scroll through the comments to see the 2 aliases asking for a current picture of Bernie AND providing the same email address. I wasn’t calling you out on it to get you in trouble. It just make me wondering how many people on this website are doing the same thing (i.e., using different aliases). If you don’t want people to figure things out, then don’t ask for information and give out the SAME email address.

        Additionally, the web administrator is able to look at IP addresses of people posting comments. Therefore, even if you use different aliases, if you use the same device to post, your IP address remains the same.

      • Thank you inspector Clouseau Toffee. I did not intend to use two alias’s .I was using beautyandthebeast and unfortunately when i jumped on one time with my NEW iPad it didn’t automatically register it in so when i thought i was putting in my name to reregister onto the website it again, i was actually putting it out into the open to see. Luckily you have so much free time that you can sleuth around. As far as i know there was the girl stefanie on the site who was posting under different alias’ and even responding to her own posts. I think everyone else has been straight up. I was one of kirsten’s closest friends. I loved Bernie and Art her parents. Everyone lived through hell at that time. No girls in my group slept alone til they caught the killer. One friend of Bernie’s even had Bernie staying over because her parents were out of town and she was afraid. pretty crazy. Took away all of our innocence and robbed us of our teenage years in a sense. And MOST sadly and I will never forget took away our beautiful friend ,sister, daughter and beautiful spirit Kirsten. People compare how “pretty” Kirsten and Bernadette were. Makes me sick. There was no comparison if you knew them and went to school with them. Bernadette had no soul and Kirsten was a force of nature. But who really cares? No one deserves to die. They try to make Kirsten out as a bully. That was the media to sensationalize a story. it is like when a girl gets raped and says she deserved it for her slutty behavior because she wore a miniskirt to a party. Give me a break. Like previously mentioned it was premeditated in cold blood. the police and judge bungled the case in my opinion and she got away with a very light sentence for a heinous crime. in a small way this website has been cathartic so that Kirsten can live on… I think with Bernadette’s alias exposed she may finally get the karma she deserves. I wanted to see a pic of Bernadette and have her outted since she came out of prison . I do feel sorry for her children. Anyway, enough said.

      • Yeah but here’s the thing beauty and the beast calling me a kook is personal to me you do not know me so unless your matter of opion is of a respectful nature then maybe it can be required why do you want to hide your identity from bernedette kirsten didn’t have that choice did she!! I am also gob smacked to think that kirsten being a lovely person as you say so could be involved with a person rotten to other people I did not say I was there ok or had a thought I made an opion on what I thought there is a difference ok so no need to be so mean it’s not very nice people are entitled to what they think you may know more I never said you didn’t I was a kid in the 80s born a year before kirsten died so no I am not a kook I am just stating opion that’s also a bit rich from you punctuation you miss words out of sentences and spell things wrong you also write long sentences too and some other people come across as you because their quick to jump to your defence you come across as a smart one and I am stupid but believe you me I am more smarter than you think

  6. Furthermore, Toffee, there is a group of us former Miramointe Students: we have decided that we will use one email address: Let’s look at the REAL issue at hand, here: Why can’t we post a current picture of the Murderer???

    • Right on Elizabeth. I think everybody deserves to know if there’s a murderer living close to them. I don’t care how long ago it was. How did you manage to get in touch with the administrator of this site? I’m not even seeing an icon where you can email them. I know a couple of people have mistakenly believed that I owned the site because I used the handle ‘RIP Kirsten’. I don’t though; it was just the best name I could think of at the time. Toffee, I have also observed people posting under different names. I don’t know why they do it either.

  7. Wow. Too early in am for me. I meant berit and art..kirsten’s parents…….not Bernie and Art. Sorry about that. It is 5 am here.:(

    • B&theBeast- I too get sick of the ‘who was prettier than who’ comments. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. And as I”ve said many times, Bernie/Jeannette had this huge knife slashing on a girl half her size so remind me again who was the bully? As for one girl having Bernie spend the night with her ‘to feel safe with her parents out of town’ just smh on that one. I bet that girl had some sleepless nights after Bernie got arrested.

      • RIP Kirsten ,She was one of Bernie’s best friends. She was in shock for sure.smh- had to go on urban dictionary for that one. That one was new to me. maybe the admin is concerned with if something bad were to happen to Bernadette or her family,then the admin would have some liability? It can’t be a question of morals…..

      • But look at all the other stuff they’ve let slide, like people revealing what they’ve seen on the SIL’s facebook as well as the husband’s, and info about where her home is. (?)

  8. Toffee: I too am in IT, but I have nothing to hide nor am i using an alias. I have several recent photos of Bernie and just wanted to see if there were others that I didn’t have.

  9. i don’t think anyone here is going to be vigilatne…. we just want to see what she looks like now and to know if we are living near her. I have not posted anything negative about her or Kirsten, I do truly belive she (bernie) will face judgement one day to god, but i’m not one to judge…. although i have my beliefs (it was premediated murder)….. it is not for US to judge, she will get hers when due….

    anyone wanting to share photos, please email me

  10. From an article about the murder:

    “On December 11, Bernadette was called in for an interview with Ron Hilley, a young FBI agent assisting in the case. She stuck to her story initially, but when Hilley described the psychological profile of the suspect in the case which showed, among other things, that the killer would have little remorse for her crime-Bernadette said, “It sounds like me.”

  11. Thinking about Bernadette’s marijuana tale. Bernadette/Jeannette told authorities that Kirsten had marijuana with her the night of the murder and wanted to smoke it in the car. Bernadette/Jeanette said that she didn’t want to smoke the marijuana. She said Kirsten left the marijuana in her car when she flee and that after the murder Bernadette/Jeannette flushed it down the toilet when she got home.

    A more likely scenario, if there was any marijuana brought out in the car that night, was that it was brought out by Bernadette/Jeannette. Perhaps Bernadette/Jeannette hoped to impress Kirsten and prove she was “cool.” I think it was Kirsten that said no. Kirsten knew something was very wrong and wanted to go home.

    In fact, a former friend of Bernadette’s said the following about Bernadette
    :

    “I’ve seen her when she would do drugs just to try to be someone’s friend.”

    • Kirsten was just back from cheerleading camp. I find it very hard to believe she had gotten pot in 12 hours after being home. I have known her since 3rd grade and never saw her smoke pot. Not saying she never did. That i can’t say but i am doubting it highly. I am even doubting Bernadette had it. I think she fabricated it as an excuse as to why they were in the parking lot. I think she brought her there to talk to kirsten and murder her and she took her there because she had told kirsten’ s mom she was taking kirsten to the bobolinks initiation/party . Kirsten would not have been suspicious at first to go there as it was where the original initiation was a few weeks prior.
      By the way, Bernadette was such a sociopath that she participated in many conversations in our science class on who could have possibly killed kirsten. When ever we had a little free time in this particular class we would end up talking about it. It was a great class with many of her close friends. The poor teacher was a bit of a nutty professor type and could never quite gain control of all of us. Creepy because we dissected a few animals in that class. When Bernadette was arrested and didn’t show up that day that was the first thing i thought of…. All those conversations where she totally kept her cool and hid the fact she did it. Had she not confessed they would have not had enough to arrest her so the FBI who came in to help really cracked the case. The FBI profiler was amazing. Also how Bernadette was able to have a nice walk with her mom after she raged out and murdered Kirsten. How out to lunch those parents were. I believe she didn’t get attention at home. Her parents were older and her siblings had a huge age difference from Bernadette. Maybe an accident baby. They were staunch catholics so they had no choice…..

      • Did bernadette really live in such a crappy house? Was her family’s financial situation dramatically different than others in the community? I thought she was not in the same clique as Kirsten. How did she become friends with the more popular girls? What happened to the bobolinks? Did anyone remain friends with Bernie after her arrest??

      • No angela. Bernedette’s stuation was not that different than most people in orinda. She just got focused on kirsten for reasons stated previously. Kirsten represneted everything bernedette aspired to be but couldn’t achieve. I guarentee kirsten grew up in a similar situation than bernedette. Orinda is now is a lot more affluent with macmansion’s etc. 30 years ago it was a lower middle class to upper middle class community. Sometimes those communities breed jealousy, a keeping up with the jones’ type mentality. Jealousy always exist in life. But for a sociopath it harvests in a very dangerous way. Bernadette came from a catholic girls private school. Private school’s cost money. They lived on the “wealthier” side of orinda. kirsten did not. Obviously, bernedettes family could afford to send her on that ski trip. It would not surprise me if kirstens skis were bought used or were not as nice as were perceived. There were plenty more f people in orinda that had a lot more money than either ine of those families. Kirstens brother is well and is married with a child he was a very sweet boy and quite handsome. I am not sure what happened to the bobolinks. I think it dissolved due to the bad stigma around it. it was banned at school but it was not well liked by the administration for obvious reasons before the incident.
        They didnot have the tech back in that day to trace a call or the history i believe. She may have made the call to bernedettes parents from a pay phone as well so her parents did not hear the phone call. They did not have caller ID then for sure.

      • I saw a picture of her house in Orinda; it’s not as bad as the house in the movie! It is a beautiful neighborhood. It’s disturbing that has perceptions at the time were so distorted. In fact, if i’m reading all this correctly, she was in the same social circles as Kirsten. Where is the evidence of bullying??? How did her parent’s manage to remain residence of that community after such a horrific crime. Her sister Maria lives there too! Did any of u Miramonte students ever visit her family? They seemed a bit odd in the movie…a timer for praying? Never saw that before!!

    • I find it incredible how she sat in classrooms and discussed ‘who might have done it.’ It sounds like she was trying to point at others- anything to keep herself from being caught. And I really don’t even care if either one of them had pot- that’s something teenagers are wont to do from time to time. And I’m glad we have classmates of Jeannette Tomanka on here. People who were there. (Not that everyone else’s opinion isn’t welcome also).

      Something else I wonder too- did they not have the technology back then to see who called the Costas’ land line to invite Kirsten to that fake party? I’m guessing either they didn’t or she called from a pay phone.

  12. GREAT point RIP, that is what makes Bernadette so dangerous: she DID allow the Lamorinda Community to apparently lean towards blaming 2 other COMPLETELY INNOCENT GIRLS and the FBI was ON to her and TOLD HER, that is the ONLY reason that she finally confessed; Because they had her cornered. She is truly a psychopath

    • Personally I believe he is. She got married only 3 months or so after her release – I can’t remember how long exactly, but I found their marriage license online. Either she got released, met a guy & married him within a few months (unlikely) or it’s the same guy she was dating.

      • That is why the families are all cool with it. That was her boyfriend that she raged on when she was in prison. He must be a criminal too and that is why families are all ok with it. Wonder what Gary tomanka was in prison for ? So scary.

  13. Bernadette/Jeannette was released in June 10th of 1992. Her name change was done in Oklahoma in May of 1994. Two years had passed before she changed her name.

    One of Bernadette’s sisters, Maria, lived in Norman, Oklahoma which is in Cleveland County. That is the same county where the name change took place. Also the same place where the University of Oklahoma is located. Bernadette attended nursing school there.

    Gary and his family are from Oklahoma.

    My guess is Bernadette moved to Oklahoma to live with her sister after her release and met Gary at the University.

  14. If Bernie had planned the murder that night she would have to be the dumbest person on the planet. How did she let Kirsten get out of the car? What the heck was she going to do with the body afterward, dump it in the Sleepy Hollow trash bin? Plus, she was in her family car, and any number of neighbors or witnesses could have seen it and gotten the license plate. Her alibi was so easily proven wrong. And stabbing her right in front of a neighbor’s front door? She didn’t know the Costas family would still be out. Plus there was a man in the car still waiting to see if Kirsten got in OK. And neighbors right across the street still home? It’s a minor miracle no one got a better look at least at the license plate.

    No, clearly this was not her plan. She didn’t care that her alibi couldn’t hold water; the way she saw it she was going to take Kirsten to this really cool UNSUPERVISED party with OLDER BOYS, and wouldn’t Kirsten think she was cool? After that, her alibi becomes moot – who is going to care or check up on her alibi to her dad? She probably brought the weed to further impress Kirsten how cool she was, and wouldn’t Kirsten be lucky to have such a friend? One who shares her pot AND takes her to a cool party that Kirsten didn’t get invited to.

    Yes, this plan has it’s potential risks that it won’t work, but she didn’t need be ultra stupid to miss those. Especially considering she was feeling depressed and somewhat desperate. When desperate people see any way out of their depression, they immediately glom onto it as a lifesaver, and tend to minimize or ignore it’s faults or risks. Especially if they are only 16 years old. And in this case in order for Bernie to see those risks, she would have to admit to herself that Kirsten might be suspicious of her motives, or interpret them as weird. But that would ruin everything, now wouldn’t it? Better just to turn a blind eye.

    There was a major mistake here that allowed this thing to fester. The police, who don’t deal with murders very often so it’s predictable they might screw something up, did not check her alibi because in their inexperienced opinion, she passed the lie detector. C,mon guys! Lie tests are notoriously imperfect and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know this. All it takes is one two minute interview with the supposed parents who hired Bernie for the evening! When that alibi is eliminated, then this case likely gets wrapped up quickly.

    It’s understandable why Mrs. Costas wanted to believe it was premeditated: 1) Bernie did lie to her on the phone (but it was in order to take Kirsten to a cool party, the result of which would put Bernie in good graces with Kirsten AS WELL AS all the kids at the party would see that Kirsten and Bernie came together and were good friends); 2) Bernie did in fact stab her; 3) it’s common to demonize or hate someone that does violence to you; and 4) it helps with possible feelings of guilt. Can you imagine? Getting fooled by a girl who uses that deceit to …..ultimately kill your own daughter? She shouldn’t blame herself because she did nothing wrong or even risky. No one else would have done differently. But it would help lots of people deal with their own grief to ascribe evil intent to the killer.

    It’s not that Bernie is morally incapable of premeditated murder (who really knows?); it’s that if she had planned it, she would have done everything differently.

    • I disagree. You are looking at this rationally. Bernadette was not rational. She was very disturbed.

      There was no party. Bernadette was never able to tell investigators where this so-called party was. Furthermore, Bernadette was not dressed for a party. She was wearing sweats and a shirt.

      So if there was no party what did Bernadette hope to accomplish with her meeting with Kirsten? Bernadette had low self esteem, and was obsessed with being popular. She was also obsessed with Kirsten and saw her as a way to gain the popularity she wanted. Additionally, Bernadette must have had a huge amount of resentment and anger towards Kirsten for having everything Bernadette wanted.

      I agree with the statement by DA Oda who said Protti was determined to kill Kirsten if Kirsten did not agree to be her friend and get her into the in-crowd.

      Bernadette , in her distorted thinking, thought that getting Kirsten alone and telling her how she felt might make Kirsten want to be friends with her. She also must have known that it could backfire, hence the BIG knife in the car. I don’t think Bernadette thought out exactly what she would do after she killed Kirsten.

      She tricked Kirsten so she could get her alone. A normal person does not do this. I believe Bernadette was disturbed before she met Kirsten and if she had not become fixated on Kirsten it would have been some other fellow student or even a member of her family.

  15. I just wonder if was the cheerleading camp that set Bernadette off that week? I’m guessing school was out and she was obsessing and thinking about Kirsten. I can picture her seething and ruminating all week out of jealousy.

  16. I haven’t read anything about this case that would qualify as true bullying on Kirstens part. In released court statements Bernadette does not give any specific examples of anything Kirsten did other than the comment about the ski’s. Bernadettes comments were about how she felt bad about herself and had low self esteem. She felt bad about not having nice enough clothes and money etc… Nothing really specific about any significant problems or incidents with Kirsten herself. In fact in one excerpt from an article Bernadette used the word “I” numerous times. Her statements were all I, I, I, me, me, me. It seems Bernadette was fighting the demons in her own mind. Unfortunately Kirsten became the symbol for all Bernadette wanted to be. Somehow she perceived Kirsten to be the “gatekeeper” preventing her from becoming popular and part of the cool crowd. Whatever happened in that car was bad enough to prompt Kirsten to want to get away from the situation. She wanted out of that car for a reason. One I guess we will never know.

    I suspect Kirsten sensed there was something off about Bernadette long before that tragic night.

    • Agree with everything you wrote Chris.

      There was no bullying of Bernadette by Kirsten. Bullying was never a factor in this case. The movie script really veered from the truth.

      This case was about envy, jealousy, obsession and rage.

      Bernadette/Jeannette lured Kirsten out of her house, she followed Kirsten to the house Kirsten ran to for help and then followed Kirsten home and stabbed her to death.

    • We had two sorority type clubs in orinda. One was the bob-o-links or bobbies. The other was Atlantis (I think. I was in Atlantis). The choos was opposed to the clubs. The initiation at the end of school was always a problem on campus. The older members had silly intitiations into the club. One of the things they did was call your parents and tell them that we would be picked up at 5 am to do dumb things like dress in costume and if you didn’t do what they dared you to do they put mayonnaise in our hair or other hazing tactics. (man it stunk) it was harmless fun. It was a friend/sisterhood thing but that is how Bernadette lured Kirsten out of the house under the guise that there was an initiation event which there was not.
      There are so many examples that the murder was premeditated. She works sweats to take her to a party even though she was already so insecure that Kirsten didn’t think she was good enough? Or perhaps she wore sweats because she knew blood would get on her clothes? Again who keeps a 15 inch knife laying around their car. I call bull sh$$&! I agree that she wasn’t thinking rationally. She took her to a church parking lot she knew would be empty at that time of night. Also maybe she figured she would just dump the body. It’s not like she needed to hide it. No one knew who picked kirsten up…..

      • Thank you for all your posts, Beautyandthebeast. It is really interesting to read comments from people who knew both girls… I have always felt deeply for Kirsten’s friends and family, even when I only knew the movie. Knowing that Kirsten was a good girl and that she is missed by many is truly heart-breaking. How terrible for those who loved her to see her portrayed as a mean bitch… 😦

      • How nasty of the filmmakers to ruin a 15-year-old murder victim’s reputation… That is why this film upset me so much.

  17. More quotes:

    Bernadette was an unlikely suspect. “I knew she had the Pinto, but she was the last person you’d think of,” says her friend Jessica Grant. “She seemed as upset about the murder as everybody else.”

    That summer Bernadette attended classes to prepare for confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church. She swam and saw friends. And she attended Kirsten’s funeral. “I was really good at blocking [what had happened] out of my mind, and I still am,” she said later. “That’s why I can live through every day, because it doesn’t seem real.”

    After killing Kirsten, Bernadette said she returned home, hid the knife and took a walk with her mother and the family dog. The following day she washed the knife and returned it to the kitchen. Later, she would throw her T-shirt and sweatpants in the garbage dump of the Sleepy Hollow Swim Club.

    When the taped confession was played, the only noise in the hushed courtroom was Bernadette’s sweet, girlish voice. “What are you going to tell the press?” was the first question she asked during the confession, followed by another: “Do I go to juvenile hall or do I go back to Miramonte?

    “I had dreams about [Kirsten],” Bernadette told Hilley. “I sort of apologized to her in my mind. You know, like I think she’s in heaven now…. I sort of said that I’d still like to talk to her….”

  18. Again since the cat is out of the bag and most people now have a good idea where Bernadette lives and who she is, it would be fantastic for her to come public and clear things up. The interest in this story is phenomenal. She could certainly make more money than her blog and tell her side.

    • I don’t think she should be able to make money by telling her side of the story. Missy Avila’s family is in the process of preventing her killer from profiting off of her murder

      • I thought murderers could not prosper off their crimes. I would love to read what really happened although it’s the word of a sociopath…. But would be nice to see Benedette write a book and have the proceeds go to the victims of crime fund.

  19. As curious as I am about this case, it is rather shocking how much you can find out about people on the internet. I found out that Kirsten was of Norwegian descent on her mother’s side and of Greek descent on her father’s side, I found her mother’s maiden name, read that her paternal grandmother died in 2012, saw a photo of her niece (her brother’s daughter)… This is chilling.

  20. I mentioned this to a Poster here earlier in a private email exchange. Do you know what I find to be a bit creepy? (Not to mention ironic and sad, actually) Bernadette/Jeannette’s pre-teen Daughter is very cute, with Dark Hair, and a deep tan/olive skin; AND she is a top student and athlete, who has won many PGA sponsored Golf Tournaments. Reminiscent of KIRSTEN COSTAS, MUCH??!!

      • Monica was a composite character of all the girls accused and mistreated by their fellow classmates in the movie. I think monica is both a girl named nancy and Joanne(a)…..

      • Ahh. Yes. Nancy and Joanna. I saw Joanna at our 20 year reunion. Nancy is doing great. They were not the only ones wrongly accused but they got the worst of the accusations. Very sad. Traumatic. So many people were looked at as the possible murderer. The description was for a chunky girl with blonde hair. Half of the orinda girls could fall under that category at that time.

    • I am not sure. There were a handful of girls that were looked at suspicously or wrongly accused.i believe they have all moved on with their lives. I know two girls that our great, and married with children.

  21. I saw a picture of her house in Orinda; it’s not as bad as the house in the movie! It is a beautiful neighborhood. It’s disturbing that has perceptions at the time were so distorted. In fact, if i’m reading all this correctly, she was in the same social circles as Kirsten. Where is the evidence of bullying??? How did her parent’s manage to remain residence of that community after such a horrific crime. Her sister Maria lives there too! Did any of u Miramonte students ever visit her family? They seemed a bit odd in the movie…a timer for praying? Never saw that before!!

    • I think I read somewhere that Bernadette’s mother set her kitchen timer because Bernadette had asked her to open the letter half an hour later.

    • Bernedettes parents were very much into their church. They were older than most of the parents and kinda like they should be living in a different era like the fifties. Very conservative and kinda frumpy like bernedette was as well.

    • Jill— I was a teen in the 80s in northern California, and it wasn’t just materialism, but more like extreme pressure to fit in. Reagan was president; Dallas and Dynasty were the popular tv shows; the cool kids were the jocks and cheerleaders; playing a musical instrument wasn’t cool and nobody but the extreme “weirdos” had a rock band; and sometimes it seemed like kids were just mini adults. I remember wearing blazers, heels, headbands, etc., to school.

      There wasn’t much in the way of teen pop culture– all the movies we watched, actors we liked, bands we listened to, etc., were geared to adults. But on the other hand, we would never have carried designer purses– that would’ve been considered flashy and show-offy. Also, there weren’t lots of McMansions back then, and even rich people drove regular cars. A Pinto still would have been considered an uncool car, though.

      The yearbook photo where Kirsten is wearing Levi’s, a preppy windbreaker, and her hair pulled back is the perfect image of the laidback, sporty, cool girl of the time. Her short, wavy bob was the “in” hairstyle.

      • Why are all the photos in black and white put colourful photos up there where coloured photos then and jeans were the in thing I wore them ripped jeans faded jeans 80s cheesy pop and shoulder pads of that era golden girls was great too better era that was than today I loved the 80s I had this pink ski suite my mum was always telling me to take the damn thing off funny when I think of it

  22. This blog has improved enormously since Kirsten’s and Bernadette’s former classmates started sharing their views. It must have been very painful for them to read so much crap about Kirsten – she must have been a good friend if she is still missed after so many years!

    • Thank you nadine. It is really nice to see that people who are reading and informing them selves on the case are commenting. I get the bullying thing and it can be terribly hard on a teenager/child but this was not the case. The movie really made a travesty of the whole thing.hard to believe people can justify murder over it. I find that so upsetting. If there friend or sister etc had been murdered i dont think they would see it that way. Bernedette is a sociopath. Plain and simple.

    • Thank you. I read that the owner of that sight is also grappling with whether to post pics of bernedette from recently or not

      • This site I’m talking about isn’t connected to geocities…it’s run by Scott Michaels I believe. You don’t need permission to post pics as far as I know. You just have to be a member.

  23. Why are so many people, including me, so obsessed with this case although they did not know either girl? I consider my own interest rather unhealthy, but I can’t help it!

    • I agree Nadine. I did not know these girls either. I was the same age as them in the 1980’s and something about that has drawn me to the case. The calculating manner in which BP lured and baited Kirsten. The rage and obsession BP had for a girl she wasn’t particularly close with. A girl of only 15 capable of such a vicious uncontrollable anger. The word I would use to describe this case is STRANGE. What a shame Kirsten’s life was snuffed out over basically nothing but another girl’s obsession and mental issues.

      • I’m ten years younger, I was 15 when I saw the film on TV (in Germany – in the dubbed version, “Nancy Reagan” was changed to “Hillary Clinton” and the movie “Reckless” was changed to “Basic Instinct”). I taped it, watched it many times and found it both fascinating and deeply disturbing.

    • I don’t think it’s an ‘unhealthy’ interest, it’s just natural curiosity. I think what makes it so interesting is that this case has so many aspects to it that resonates with ALL of us — in different ways. We have all been there in high school, whether we were part of the popular crowd, the unpopular crowd, wanting to be cool, trying to get into the right cliques, what-have-you. And with all of that, we have this case, in which this girl took it to the extreme – in the quintessential 1980’s materialistic high school society setting. AND…this case was made into a movie.

      For me, even though I have no relationship at all to those involved in this case, I am completely fascinated. I also was very young when this crime occurred, but when I was old enough, I’d always see the movie on TV, and was riveted by it. I kind of ‘grew up’ watching this movie, and it was shocking to me. So, my interest is because I’m learning so much more about this case than what I had seen for half my life on TV as a movie. A lot of it is surprising! And I have to thank those classmates who have taken it upon themselves to answer all our questions and tell us what REALLY went on. It’s a great way of honoring Kirsten.

      Imagine being able to ask and talk to firsthand those people who were actually there and friends with those depicted in a movie that you’d seen all your life! Now that is pretty awesome. Thanks for that. 🙂

  24. Something really agitated Kirsten enough to want to get out of that car. Some of Kirsten’s last words in the time she was getting a ride home were about her “friend going weird”. Kirsten never got to fully explain what “gone weird” meant. I think her choice of words is very telling. Bernadette must have done or said something to make Kirsten not angry but creeped out enough to get away from BP. What a shame Kirsten actually did get away from Bernadette to safety and then was stalked and attacked the few seconds she was alone from the car door to the neighbors door. The strangest thing is how in the hell Law enforcement couldn’t figure this out for so long. The witness practically handed Bernadette to them on a platter.

    • And yet, the killer got so much sympathy and understanding while the victim was blamed… So terribly unfair. I was unpopular myself at school, but it didn’t enter my mind to harm anyone.

    • “Raymond Protti drove his daughter to a house near their home where Bernadette said she had a babysitting job. She asked him to leave the car, an orange Ford Pinto, in front of the house because she would feel safer. Raymond Protti agreed and walked the 150 yards back to his home. A few minutes later, Bernadette drove off in the Pinto and headed for Kirsten’s home.”

      Bernadette had this all planned out. She even lied to her father so she would have a car.

      If only Law Enforcement had checked her alibi.

  25. I was visiting my older Sister in California during my summer break from school, and on the night of Kirsten’s murder, I happened to be staying at a House that was a few streets away from Orchard Road, in Orinda. We were all watching TV and we literally heard all of the Police and ambulance sirens as they raced down the street to Kirsten’s house. Then, years later, when I moved to California to start college, I was serving my Internship at a Funeral Home in Lafayette, CA., and I came across Kirsten’s file. That is why I personally have always been interested in this case.

  26. Don’t compare beauty and the beast with the kooks the pervs the trolls and anyone else who chooses to participate in daft conversation on here …… O and be English literate too she forgets she’s not sitting an exam here this is the world of the internet not college school work etc come on anyone jump to her defence seems as I am left hanging on my own doesn’t seem a fair argument

  27. I sometimes wonder what the principal was like… In the film, he is pretty unpleasant, but many facts seem to have been distorted…

  28. All this determination to out Bernadette compels me to ask… What exactly do you want from her? What is the end game? Clearly, her attempts to live quietly with her family and toil in the health care industry are unacceptable. So what exactly do you want from her?

  29. New here. Found this forum by Googling “A Friend To Die For.” I remember reading the article in RollingStone Magazine and seeing the movie many years ago, and was curious about whatever had happened to Bernadette Protti. I must say, I am a bit shocked at the degree of malice on display here, as well as the determination to “out” her publicly. It compels me to ask… What exactly do you want of her? What is the end game? Apparently choosing to live her life quietly with her family, and toiling as a writer/blogger, is unacceptable. So what exactly do you want her to do?

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