The Murder of Crystal Faye Todd, Teenager Brutally Murdered By Friend She Trusted

crystal-faye-todd

Crystal Faye Todd (January 4, 1974 – November 17, 1991)

Conway, South Carolina, was experiencing a cool Saturday evening on November 16, 1991. Located in Horry County, only a dozen miles from Myrtle Beach, the small southern community had not long settled from the resort season’s large influx of tourists. Most of the stores, hotels and restaurants were back to doing regular business. Traffic on the streets had thinned and the town’s citizens were pleased to return to their normal routines.

Conway’s teenagers traditionally spent Saturday night downtown at its only mall. The teens all knew each other and attended the same high school. Coastal Mall was the place to be seen. They would cruise around, exchange small talk, make plans and just hang out.

Attractive 17-year-old Crystal Faye Todd was in her senior year at Conway High School. She was popular and well-liked among her classmates and a good student. Shoulder-length brown hair framed her bright blue eyes and ever-present smile. Although only five-feet-three inches tall, Crystal’s vivacious personality augmented her petite frame.

Early that evening, Crystal attended her grandmother’s birthday dinner party in the neighboring community of Toddsville. At 7 p.m. Crystal left the party and climbed into her new 1991 Celica. Her mother, Bonnie Faye Todd, had given her the car as an early graduation present. Crystal was happy to be driving again. Her license had been suspended for an accident she had while driving under the influence of alcohol. The car was her pride and joy and even had her name “C TODD” emblazoned on a personalized plate.

Crystal Todd was no different than her schoolmates. She looked forward to joining them at the mall, realizing there would not be many more opportunities for her to do so. Graduation was only several months away and she and many of her classmates would be moving on with their lives and careers.

When Crystal arrived at the mall, she hung out with friends. By 8 p.m. she was standing in the parking lot talking with a girlfriend. At 9 p.m. both girls left the mall in Crystal’s car and drove to a party that was being held at a friend’s home in the Punchbowl community. It was almost 9:30 by the time they arrived. At 11 p.m., Crystal and her girlfriend left the party. Her friend had an 11:15 curfew and had to get back to the mall where her car was parked. Crystal dropped her girlfriend off at her car in the parking lot. Crystal drove off, not seeming to be in a hurry. She and her mother had agreed upon a curfew time of midnight. Click here to continue reading the Crystal Faye Todd murder case by Crime Library

You can also watch Crystal Faye Todd: Conway, SC (Investigation Discovery full episode) on YouTube

Teen girl stabbed her best friend to death because she didn’t ‘like her anymore’

Article originally published by Mail Online on May 25, 2013

neese-murder

16 year old Rachel Shoaf (left) along with a juvenile accomplice, stabbed her best friend 16 year old Skylar Neese (right) to death because she didn’t ‘like her anymore;’ then hid her body for months.

Emerging details of a teen’s murder confession, who claimed she acted out a preplanned stabbing last summer, have shaken a small West Virginia community.

On May 1, 2013 Rachel Shoaf, of Morgantown, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Skylar Neese and she awaits sentencing in a juvenile detention center. Another unnamed girl is also facing charges.

Now, a newly released transcript of a secret plea hearing reveals that Shoaf said she and the second girl carried out a plan to kill Neese.

shoaf-neeseFriends: Rachel Shoaf (on the right in both pictures) has confessed to stabbing Skylar Neese (left) to death last summer

Court documents offer no insight into the motive for the crime. On May 1, Skylar’s father said the only reason he could think of was that they ‘didn’t like her any more.’

WDTV reported that Dave Neese stated: ‘They didn’t like her anymore. That’s the only response I got.

‘I want a reason, I want some kind of reason (for this to) happen. There is no reason I don’t care if you have the best reason in the world, but there’s no reason (for this to happen).’

Neese added of Rachel Shoaf: ‘I feel bad for your parents and I hope you rot in hell.’

The victim was last seen on surveillance video leaving her family’s apartment voluntarily and getting into a car on July 6, 2012.

She was initially considered a runaway, but her parents soon suspected she was abducted.

Police chased numerous leads with no luck. The break finally came when Shoaf admitted plotting with another girl to kill her – shocking even the investigators working the case.

Skylar Neese disappeared in July 2012 and was initially thought to be a runaway but her parents soon suspected she had been abducted

The two girls were charged with luring the straight-A student at University High School out of her family’s apartment in the middle of the night, stabbing her to death at an agreed-upon moment and hiding her body under branches in a Pennsylvania township about 30 miles away from her house, according to court documents.

The pair had spent time with Neese’s mother after the slaying and even helped with the search.

The cold calculation and brutality of the plot shocked a community already frustrated by the slow pace and secrecy surrounding the case.

shoafPictured; Rachel Shoaf, of Morgantown, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Skylar Neese and she awaits sentencing in a juvenile detention center.

Investigators have said little since announcing the charges three weeks ago.

People sit in the chairs at John’s Barber Shop, gaze at Neese’s photo on a bulletin board and wonder: How could anyone so young plot to kill a classmate and friend?

‘They look as normal as any other kid that you could ever see,’ said barber BJ McClead. ‘Not kids you would think would have anything to do with anything like this.’

The other girl’s identity is, for now, shrouded by the confidentiality of juvenile court.

Though McClead says most people in town have figured out who it is, it’s unclear how long the three girls had been friends or just how close they were.

It’s also unclear whether prosecutors will try to have the second suspect charged as an adult, as Shoaf was.

‘People are confused. They’re like, “What is taking so long?”‘ said McClead, whose daughter Hayden had been friends with Neese since junior high.

‘It’s ridiculous. Who’s protecting these girls?’ said the barber, who still hands out red-and-yellow bracelets bearing the victim’s name.

‘Three families’ lives are now ruined because of this heinous crime that these girls committed.’

Monongalia County Prosecutor Marcia Ashdown has refused to return repeated calls seeking comment.

The mystery began last July when Neese climbed out of her bedroom window.

Surveillance video showed her getting into a car at the end of her street in a quiet residential neighborhood near West Virginia University.

With no sign of fear, no money and no contact lenses, she apparently expected to return.

When she didn’t, Dave and Mary Neese worried. Police initially suspected their daughter was a runaway, but they knew better. They walked up and down Crawford Street with Neese’s photo, then plastered fliers everywhere.

‘You couldn’t go 5 feet without seeing her,’ said 24-year-old Brittany Crouse, who moved in around the time of the disappearance. ‘Everybody really, really wanted her to come home.’

For months, police chased down tips to no avail. The transcript from Shoaf’s hearing shows the break came January 3, 2013 when she finally told investigators the truth – and where to find the body.

But it wasn’t until March that authorities confirmed it was Neese, and silence followed until the day of the plea hearing.

‘I think police who were involved in the front lines of that interview and that part of the investigation were stunned at Rachel Shoaf’s confession,’ Ashdown told Judge Russell Clawges that day.

‘She confessed to a plan and conspiracy with another juvenile to kill Skylar Neese. A plan carried out.’

The three girls drove to Wayne Township, Pa., got out of the car and the suspects pretended to socialize with Neese.

‘And, at a planned and agreed upon moment,’ Ashdown said, the girls ‘attacked and stabbed Skylar to death, and they left her there.’

They tried to bury Neese, she said, but covered her with branches when they couldn’t.

In the five-page court file on Shoaf, prosecutors say they plan to recommend a 20-year prison sentence. But she could get as many as 40 years under the law.

Shoaf’s family issued a public apology through a lawyer but has made no further statements.

‘There is no way to describe the pain that we, too, are feeling,’ they said.

‘We are truly sorry for the pain that she has caused the Neese family, and we know her actions are unforgivable and inexcusable.

‘Our daughter has admitted her involvement and she has accepted responsibility for her actions.

‘Our hearts are broken for your loss,’ they told the Neese family, ‘and we are still trying to come to terms with this event.’

Mary Neese has declined interview requests. But the family has tried to spare others their agony, persuading legislators to pass ‘Skylar’s Law’ earlier this year.

Under the law, Amber Alerts are no longer limited to kidnappings in West Virginia. Even when authorities suspect a child is a runaway, information is turned over to Amber Alert officials.

The transcript of Shoaf’s hearing shows other students also had suspicions, chattering on social media about all three girls.

A few overheard a conversation between the suspects about the plot but waited to report it.

The teenagers thought it was a joke, Ashdown told the judge, ‘but only later decided and believed it was all too true and all too prophetic.’

McClead marvels that two teenage girls could maintain their deception from July to January. ‘Some of the criminals that are locked up for life aren’t that hard.’

Norfolk man tortured to death by his ‘drinking buddies’ earlier this year in a sadistic murder similar to Resident Evil video-game

Derek Blake, 44, who met his killers in a hostel, was a vulnerable and mentally fragile man

Derek Blake (pictured) was tortured to death earlier this year in a flat located in his hometown of Yarmouth, Norfolk, the same town where his sadistic killers lived

Derek Blake was a 44-year-old man from Norfolk who was described as very vulnerable and mentally fragile. He had issues with consuming alcohol but was described as a ‘happy drunk.’ Earlier this year he had met Ricky Roys, Andrew Brown and Helen Cooke at a local hostel and from there, the four of them became ‘drinking buddies.’

Killers, from left: Ricky Roys, 20, Andrew Brown, 42, and Helen Cooke, 19. Roys told a witness the murder was 'like something out of Resident Evil'

From left: Ricky Roys, 20, Andrew Brown, 42, and Helen Cooke, 19

Roys, Andrew and Cooke are all from St Nicholas Road, Great Yarmouth and according to sources, the three had drinking problems. Roys had lived a very crazy and drunken lifestyle and Cooke had begun drinking at thirteen, dropped out of highschool in her mid-teens and was living with her parents prior to her new home at the prison cell.

On May 24, 2012 he was lured to a hostel in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, by the sadistic group where he met his death. At the flat, Blake was subjected to  ‘sadistic’ levels of torture, described as being similar to the horror series Resident Evil.

Blake was discovered dead, emerged in a bath full of water in a flat in his hometown of Great Yarmouth, According to the pathologist, the murdered man hadn’t died from drowning and was placed in the water after his death. He had over 100 injuries threw-out his body. The Norwich Crown Court listened to grueling testimony describing the  ‘painful and humiliating’ ordeal involving the use of a boning knife and claw hammer, Norwich Crown Court heard.

The attacked was dragged-out, making the ordeal even more torturous and according to testimony, Blake was most likely conscious threw most of the attack and was most likely in ‘extreme pain’

One of his killers later compared the alcohol-fuelled attack to Resident Evil.  A series of horror movies that involve blood and gore.

The attack included pouring boiling water over Mr Blake, inflicting cuts and burns all over his body and torturing him with a pool cue. During the torture session, the letter J was carved into his face.

When police were called to the flat, they found the murder weapons which included A claw hammer, a boning knife and another knife.

The three killers are seen getting on to a bus, including Cooke at the back, carrying bags full of their victim's blood-stained clothing after the attack

CAUGHT ON TAPE: The three murderers stepping onto a public bus after the horrific attack. Cook is seen in the back, carrying bags which hid the victim’s blood-soaked clothes

Shortly after the murder, the three went on to describe their horrendous deeds to people they knew.

Cooke, a drop-out who started drinking age thirteen, told one person who became a witness: ‘We battered him.’

Roys told another: ‘It was like something out of Resident Evil.’ – Roys defense claimed he had lived a very out of control lifestyle which involved alot of drinking.

Brown’s defense claimed he was to ‘consumed with alcohol to remember many of the events that night.

Judge Peter Jacobs said: ‘This was a murder involving sadistic conduct. ‘This went far beyond a punishment beating and the infliction of this many injuries confirms you intended to kill him. You had been overtaken by the gravity of your own actions. ‘It is obvious Brown took the lead but this must be balanced against the obvious sustained involvement of each person.

Roys, Brown, and Cooke were sentenced to life imprisonment with Roy serving twenty-years before being eligible for release, Brown serving a minimum of twenty-three years and Cooke serving a minimum of eighteen.

After the court hearing, the family of Derek Blake issued a statement saying: ‘This has been a very trying time for all our family.

‘These three people have left three daughters without a father and their children without a granddad. They have also taken a much loved son, brother, uncle and friend.

‘While we do not think that any sentence would be long enough due to the brutal, torturous and sadistic nature of Derek’s murder, we believe justice has been served and these people will be locked up for a long time unable to harm any other members of the public.’

The latest Resident Evil game, Resident Evil 6, was released in early October, 2012.

The fifth instalment of the film series, Resident Evil: Retribution, came out in cinemas in these recent months.

Both feature scenes of extreme violence and gore. The games involve killing enemies using a range of weapons.

Source: Thesun.co.uk and Dailymail.co.uk

The brutal Murder of Dystiny Myers

The picture above is Dystiny Myers, she was a 15-year-old high school student in Santa Maria, California. She was placed in a group home after her mom went to jail 2 months before her murder for a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of an illegal drug.

She was raised by her grandmother and everyone who knew her described her as being full of life. Her Pastor, Rick Bloom said she loved to sing and perform. He also said she was the lead in the majority of the children’s choir programs. She also attended church camps and consistently volunteered to feed the homeless.

She dreamed of being a model and even won a local competition. She could be the all-American girl right?

Pastor Bloom told reporters, “Everyone thinks about what we could have done. I know her grandmother and she did the best she could in very difficult circumstances,” “She didn’t get a chance to grow out of whatever she was going through,” Bloom said.

Dystiny’s 7th grade science teacher Mr. Bob Quirk said “She could have gone to college she could have done anything. Very bright. Very talented person. Sang. She was in our talent show,”

It wont let me post up the video right now so to view Dystiny singing in a school Talent Show, click link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA_lIm9J6zM&feature=player_embedded (Dystiny starts singing at 3:35)

She looks like any other normal teenager in this picture but unfortunately she got caught up with some adults that she shouldn’t have. She ran away from the home and stayed with Rhonda Wisto, a known drug addict and alleged dealer.

On September 26, 2010 the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office received a phone call at 5AM to come to a location and investigate a body that was found on the outskirts of town. At first it was the fire department who showed up believing there was a grass fire but they soon found out that wasn’t the case. Deputies would soon find out that the person that was purposely thrown into shallow grave and set on fire was a 15-year-old local girl.

Later that day deputies arrested Jason Greenwell (20), Ty Michael Hill (28), Frank York(19) and Rhonda Wisto (47). They are all being charged with Dystiny Myers murder and special circumstances of torture, kidnapping and aiding and abetting.

The following day Cody Lane Miller (20) was arrested. He was in the hospital receiving care for his injuries.

All five of them are being held without bail and they have all entered not guilty pleas.

On October 4 the news released an article that said perhaps Dystiny was not the girl everyone thought she was, they also released this picture of her. It was from her MySpace account.

Dystiny takes a photo of herself, her appearance is slowly changing

In reality Pastor Bloom says she was once that girl he spoke of earlier on but she had gotten off track in the last year and lost her way.

Sadly, Dystiny had begun hanging out in the streets where she called herself “Spa3dz” and her past times included partying, drinking hard liquor, getting high and smoking “cancer stix” as she called them.

Dystiny Myers colors her hair black, her attitude starts to change as well, and she begins hanging with the wrong crowd

“wats crakn,mi name is dystiny but they call me (SPAD3Z) i luv2 par-t(haha)i dn’t drink beer though”IMA A HARD LIQUOR HYNA” i luv smokn MARIJUANA!!!(STONRS 4 LIFE) i’m also a nicotine fein,i luv my CANCER STIX.. ima helza good homie..no mattr wat my homies always cme 1st there my FAMILIO u can fuk with me but once u fuk with my homies there will be BLOOD SHED!!! i gots lots of h8rs…i aint evn trippn off them bitches all they are is (DRAMA) DNT HATE DA PLAYER,HATE DA GAME!!! L8TRS”

Click here to view Dystiny Myers Myspace – It list her age as 19 years old, the age she would be today.

Rhonda Wisto, the mother of Jason Greenwell, urged her son to go through with the horrific murder of Dystiny Myers. She also helped the group hid her body.

She also started hanging out in known drug dealers houses that had been raided in the past. Mr. Quirk, her former teacher said she dropped out of school after the first 5 weeks of high school. “If a kid like this can end up in this situation, it can happen to anybody,” Quirk said.

On February 7, 2011 all 5 suspects appeared in court for their pre-trial hearings. Normally a first degree murder charge would carry a 25 to life sentence but since there are special circumstances in Dystiny’s murder they can all be sentenced to death or life without parole.

Photo of Ty Hill who took part in Dystiny’s murder, he was also the one who shot her up with heroin moments before the attack
Ty Hill admitted to shooting Dystiny up with heroin before they beat her, he shot her up every night so she wouldn’t have suspected anything was wrong.

He then started beating the hell out of her with a baseball bat before handing it off to another guy and saying “Mark McGwire” her legs.

Jason Greenwell said the noise from the “bat bashing against her legs was making him sick and he couldn’t think,”

An expert testified that Dystiny more than likely died from mechanical asphyxiation but was also suffering from methamphetamine toxicity and blunt force trauma to her head.

MUGSHOT: Frank York

Forensic Specialist Kenneth Jones said he found a baseball bat in Rhonda Wisto’s truck that had finger prints and blood on it. He also testified there was a palm print that matched Frank York’s prints.

Mr. Jones also found three samurai swords and brass knuckles in that same blue pick-up truck; two of the swords had blood stains and strands of long, dark hair on them. There were numerous blood stains in the pickup; the blood has not been tested for DNA yet.

Deputy Stuart MacDonald from the coroner’s office said when they discovered 15-year-old Dystiny Myers’ body she was wrapped in a canvas bag, duct tape, several comforters and nylon rope. The young teen was also hog-tied and had sweatpants tied tightly around her neck and gloves in her mouth and throat.

Cody Miller being arrained in court back in 2010

Dystiny also had bruising on her body from her face to her back and down to her legs. She also had fractures on her skull and her eye had been gouged out. Parts of her body, including her face had been burnt beyond recognition.

Detective Eric Twisselman from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department testified that Cody Miller told him that they all beat Dystiny at Rhonda Wisto’s house. After the beating took place they “stuffed her into a duffel bag and taken outside the residence and ultimately placed into the back of a pickup truck,”

Dystiny was still alive at this point and once they got out to the location Cody claims he was “forced” to beat her more, dig a hole and hog-tie her.

When Ty Hill asked how he knew she was dead Cody said that “he rammed a glove down her throat and that he plucked her eye out,”

Detective Burgeson testified that at least two of the suspects admitted to beating Dystiny with a baseball bat, brass knuckles, hands and feet. “I asked Miller why he had kicked Dystiny, and he told me that she was making noise and that he kicked her twice and that she stopped making noise,”

MUGSHOT: Jason Greenwell

Rhonda Wisto is Frank York’s mother. He told his mother while all this was going that killing someone was the wrong thing to do. Rhonda told her son, sometimes “stuff” has to be done. “She told him that he would be okay and that she loved him and that she wanted the best for him,” Det. Burgeson testified.

They also planned to kill Cody Miller, the plan was to murder him and cut his head off according to Ty Hill. He said after they set Dystiny on fire Ty Hill hit Cody Miller in the head with a shovel and baseball bat, he planned to kill him to because he believed he was a police informant. Cody was able to get away and ran into woods.

They got in the truck and went to Jack in the Box where they spent $8 on tacos and then went home.

Sheriff’s detective Patrick Zuchelli testified that all 5 suspects were under the influence of methamphetamines while they beat and murdered the teenager. He said it was unclear if Dystiny was voluntarily using drugs by the suspects statements.

Mugshot of Cody Miller whose nose was broken due to getting attacked immediately after  Dystiny’s death.

Det. Zuchelli also testified that Frank York also told him he wanted to back out before the beatings began because he was scared but was encouraged not to by his mother.

Ty Hill tried to minimize his role in the plan but eventually gave up and told the detectives everything he knew including he was the one that actually made a “check list” of everything they would need to murder Dystiny and pull the plan off without getting caught. Police found the list when they found the baseball bat that had Dystiny and Cody’s blood on it.

So far the only motive for killing Dystiny is because she was being disrespectful.

The judge has agreed that there is enough evidence to carry the case to trial and all 5 suspects were sentenced and will never see the day of light again.

The family and friend’s of Dystiny all gathered shortly after her brutal murder to remember the good memories of the bright teenager they knew and loved.

The family and loved ones gathered shortly after the brutal murder to celebrate the short  life of Dystiny Myers

Although five suspects were arrested and are awaiting trail… Dystiny’s grandmother, Kathy Clark said she has no closure.

“There really isn’t. We take it one day at a time and we know that Dystiny is with Jesus. I think that’s what keeps me personally going, knowing that Dystiny is at peace with her maker,” said Kathy.

She said her granddaughter was full of life. A generous spirit, involved with the youth program at her church and a volunteer at a homeless shelter.

“When she walked in the room, the party started. Everyone knew Dystiny was there,” said Kathy.

But she said Dystiny was also a teenager who, shortly before her death, started making bad decisions and hanging out with people Kathy didn’t know.

“She went astray and I’m the first to admit it. She went astray. Dystiny was teetering in between the two worlds. She knew right from wrong. But unfortunately when we get caught up with something, it’s so hard to get out of it,” said Kathy.

How does a child go from being active in the church and feeding the homeless to being sucked in by the streets and drugs? A lot of people will blame the mother because she was obviously an addict herself but Dystiny did not live with her mother. Dystiny’s grandmother raised her according to every report I have read and family/friends statements. Surely there were signs that this young girl was getting in over her head so why didn’t someone do something? I guess none of these questions matter now, she is dead. What does matter is that this can happen with any child, it’s up to the parent or guardian to stop it.

Source: Unforgottenangels

A Killer Among Friends – The Murder Of Missy Avila

misty_avilaMissy Avila (pictured) was a seventeen year old teenager who was cruelly murdered on October 2, 1985 by her two ‘best friends’ over jealousy and rumors that she had hooked up with their boyfriends.

Michele “Missy” Avila was born in Southern California on February 8, 1968 and attended San Fernando Highschool. She lived with her mother Irene Avila, who was divorced and her three brothers Ernie, Chris and Mark in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Arleta, California. Not too far from Los Angeles.

When Missy was eight a new girl, Karen Severson, moved into a house around the corner. Karen was described as an overweight, shy child. They soon become best friends and spend everyday together riding bikes, sharing secrets, having sleepovers, etc.Karen was a regular at the Avila home and was very comfortable around Irene, who considered Karen family.

Laura Doyle was also born and raised in the same neighborhood and was also considered a best friend to both girls.

missy-siblings

Family photo of Missy along with her three brothers

The early 80’s came along and the three girls moved out of middle school and entered High School. Their interests have moved far beyond little dolls. They dress like their peers, rock and headband to the Scorpions and Motley Crue and had a deep interest in boys, looks and acceptance.

Missy blossomed into a social butterfly and was considered pretty among her peers. She was stylish outgoing and had a great personality. Your typical teenager who enjoyed going out on the weekends and having friends over her place to swim in her pool or just hanging out cooking on the grill. Irene Avila was a laid-back parent who accepted all of Missy’s friends so they enjoyed being there.

Karen was what you would call the complete opposite of Missy. Instead of blossoming she blew up. An obese, insecure teen with little confidence she craved the attention that Missy received. She would notice boys flirting with Missy and not her which grew on her already weak self-esteem.

Almost every female has experienced jealousy of some sort but for Karen this went beyond the typical green monster. — She came from a family who didn’t set rules or boundaries. She never had a curfew, never got grounded, never had any of those dreaded but much-needed teenage lectures and thus became a teen mom before even reaching adulthood. Many believe that her upbringing along with her self-image and need for attention and acceptance is what molded her into what she eventually became. A killer.

karen_severson

laura_doyle

Photo of Karen (far left) and Laura (right) taken in court a couple of years after Missy’s murder

Laura Doyle, then 18, was described as tall, lanky, and promiscuous. Many say she looked decent when she applied makeup but she seldom did and was somewhat of a Tomboy. She was also a drug user who regularly skipped school and hung out with the wrong crowd. Everytime Missy hung out with Laura she would find herself surrounded by a drug using crowd. You know, the ones who failed school or dropped out — that crowd.

Laura and Karen had many things in common including their lack of loyalty towards Missy. When the two came together their feelings for Missy became noticeably toxic. They would call her names behind her back like slut and whore due to her harmlessly flirting with male peers. They even start rumors in an attempt to make her look bad.  However, when Missy came around they would hide it.

“Missy made great lasagna, dreamed of becoming a physical therapist, and was fiercely loyal to her childhood friends” says Irene Avila as she reminisces about her daughter.

An anonymous online user who attended San Fernando High School and knew Karen and Missy had shared her own opinion;

“Missy wasn’t the sweet innocent angel she was portrayed to be, which she definitely WAS NOT. I grew up with Missy and I knew Karen in school as well. I never met Laura, but the few times I saw her with Missy and Karen, she gave me the creeps. As for Missy, she was one of the meanest people I ever knew. She was the worst bully I ever encountered as a child and I never saw any other side to her. She was just as awful as the friends that killed her. There were a lot of people who couldn’t stand her.”

One time Missy and Karen were window shopping at the local mall when Karen suddenly snuck lingerie into Missy’s purse. They were both caught and detained by security guards and when Irene picked up Missy she was upset and grounded her. She also started double thinking Missy’s relationship with Karen but knowing teenagers make mistakes, and knowing the two girls have been apart of each others life since young children, she dropped the issue. Meanwhile Karen’s parents failed to care so unlike Missy, Karen didn’t learn any lessons aside from being extra sneaky next time.

IRENE AVILA

Photo of Irene Avila years after Missy’s death

Life went on and so did the friendships between the three girls but the jealousy Karen felt towards Missy was turning to bitter resentment as she continued to get ignored and pick on by boys. Somehow she rationalized it in her mind that Missy was to blame.

Timeline

Missy briefly dates Victor Amaya, a teen who attended a local Catholic School and sported a tattoo of a leaf with the inscription “stoner” across it. Their relationship was sexual but didn’t last. They break up and soon after Victor starts a relationship with Laura. Missy isn’t upset or at least she appears to be ok with it.

Several weeks before the murder — Laura’s insecurity and jealousy rubs Victor the wrong way. She appears to clingy, he breaks up with her and she is left devastated and believes another girl must be the reason why he broke it off. She continues to attempt a reconcile to no avail. She periodically calls him and drives by his house, not yet ready to give up and move on.

“I broke off the relationship because she (Laura) was jealous of me talking to other girls, including Missy. Laura refused to accept the breakup and became bitter.”  Victor would later say.

Laura’s hatred for Missy sparked when she drives by Victor’s house one day and spots him and Missy together holding hands and kissing  at the end of his driveway. She is enraged and speeds up to them and pulls down her window to let them know that they were caught and how much of a “slut” she (Missy) was. At this point she most likely assumes that Victor still cares for her and will apologize and deny his feelings for Missy. Instead, Victor tells her to “go away” and continues to hold onto Missy.

Victor would later say that when Laura went to leave she muttered “I’m going to kill that bitch”. The threat was not taken seriously at the time.

“We (he and Missy) argued with Laura at my house in Arleta. Me, my brother Noah and Missy had been standing in front  of the house when Laura drove up. Laura wanted to know  “Why is Missy here?” and I ordered Laura to leave. Before she drove away she said “I’m going to kill that bitch!” I didn’t take the threat seriously and I never reported it  to police.”

Missy, now fighting with Laura, also drifts away from Karen. Meanwhile, Karen and Laura start hanging out together much more and why wouldn’t they? They had many things in common including a hatred for Missy and were able to release their frustrations to one another.

In an attempt to make Missy look bad Karen starts spreading lies around school and telling a group of girls that Missy had slept with their boyfriends. The angry girls stalk out Missy and confront her, screaming at her and then jumping her.

After the incident a student approaches Missy and tells her “Karen’s the one spreading the rumor about you.”

Missy was so mad at the girl for telling her it was Karen’s fault. Missy “knew” Karen would never do anything like that.” Irene Avila would later say.

But while Missy was ignoring the warning signs, Karen was doing everything in her power to make Missy look bad in the eyes of others, mainly boys. Everytime a boy flirted with Missy while sarcastically teasing or ignoring Karen, she would resent and despise her even more. Somehow everything was Missy fault.

Colby Canyon is a campground 45 minutes from Arleta which is also known as Wicky Up.  Local teens regularly go there to hang out and party and the three girls are quite familiar with the place.

In Junior year Missy and a boy named Randi Fernandez are dating but Randi likes to party too much for Missy’s liking so she breaks it off one month into the relationship. Shortly after Randi and Karen begin a relationship and move into an apartment together. Karen becomes pregnant and has an abortion. Karen will later give birth to another child which she names Stephanie, the same name of her sister.

Karen doesn’t trust Randi around girls especially Missy and according to Irene, Missy once told her of an afternoon while she was over Karen’s apartment. She and Missy were in her room when Karen asked her to grab her baby’s bottle in the kitchen. When Missy walked by Randy he pulled her onto his lap without warning, and when she attempted to get up Karen walked in and became enraged at her and told her to leave. Missy tried giving an explanation but Karen wouldn’t hear it.

September 1985 — Eva Chirumbolo, 17, moves in with Karen. Laura is employed at a bakery shop.

September 21, 1985 – 12 days prior the murder — Karen spots Missy at a local park in Arleta and attacks her with a beer bottle, slaps and pushes her before friends break up the fight. During this time Karen and Laura, fed up, get together and formulated a plot to get rid of Missy once and for all.

Several days before the murder – Karen and Laura pretend to apologize to Missy. She is excited that her two best friends are back in her life and her excitement is easily noticeable by her mother.

Karen has a phony talk with her and tells her of issues between Randi and herself. Missy suggests she break up with Randi, that he is a player and she would be better off without him. Karen was really upset because the guy she wanted didn’t want her.

By this time, Karen’s jealousy and resentment for Missy is at an all time high. She has already planned Missy’s fate unbeknownst to her, but puts on a phony smile and pretends everything is okay.

The afternoon of October 1, 1985 Laura and Karen prepare to put their plan into action. 

Laura calls Missy and asks if she wants to hang out and go to Stonehurst Park and talk. Missy excitedly agrees and tells her mom of her plans, saying; “I’m going out with Laura, we’re going to Stonehurst Park. Promise to be home by 8PM”  — As she’s leaving she turns to her mother and says “I love you”, which put a smile on Irene’s face.

 “When Laura got to the house, the girls were laughing and talking about boys. As they drove off they seemed very carefree. I remember how especially pretty Missy looked that day. She was all excited to go. She even turned to me and said “I love you” which is something she did not ordinarily do. That scene haunts me even today.”

michele_avila

Eva Chirumbolo accompanies Karen Severson on the ride to Stonehurst Park in Sun Valley and is completely unaware of what is about to transpire.

“Karen said that she and Laura “planned to scare Avila.” “I didn’t know what they had planned. I didn’t know how far this was going to go.” Eva would later say at Laura and Karen’s trail.

They meet up with Laura and Missy and follow each other in separate vehicles up to Stonehurst Park.

On the way up to the Park Missy is chatting with Laura, completely unaware of what her two best friends had in store for her. Laura is eerily calm and portrays no sign that would signal a red flag.

The girls decide they’re going to the National Forest. It’s unknown if this was part of the plan or if Karen and Laura figured at that point that the National Forest would be more isolating.

Karen and Eva followed Laura’s car to the isolated forest.

When they reach the Forest they park in a dirt lot near a wooded area which is located near the creek in Colby Canyon. Laura and Karen get out of their vehicles and begin to yell at Missy, who is still sitting in the passengers side of Laura’s car.

Missy begins crying and the girls force her out of the car and begin to get physical by pushing and shoving her, calling her names and accusing her of sleeping with their boyfriends.

Eva, who has been sitting in the car watching from a short distance, decides to get out of the vehicle. By this point the confrontation is getting increasingly intense. Missy, who just moments ago was laughing and listening to music with who she thought were her best friends, is now fearful of them. She has no one to help, nowhere to run and is quickly realizing the dire situation she has naively gotten herself into.

Laura grabs her by the wrist and pulls her, coldly telling her “let’s go for a walk”. Missy who is still crying, hesitates before Karen comes up and pushes her towards the wooded area.

All four of us walked down an embankment to the creek. Laura and Karen continued screaming at Missy.”  says Eva.

Laura yanks Missy by her hair and once again she accuses her of sleeping with Victor. She steps beside the creek and pushes Missy towards Karen who in return shoves her to the ground, making her lose control of her purse which has fallen into the muddy, wet area.

Missy is frantic and begins to beg for forgiveness. Most likely she thought that up until they dragged her to the creek, that they were just going to beat her up and leave her there. Now she is certain that they have other intentions and plead frantically to them but her cries fall on deaf ears and Eva who is terrified starts running back to the car. Midway she hears Missy scream for her to help but she was helpless and feared for her own life. She and Missy were both petite unlike Karen who was obese and intimidating, and Laura who was tall and aggressive. She was in a panic and feared that any attempts to stop the raged pair would backfire on her.

 “I was scared so I ran back to where the cars were parked.”  says Eva.

Karen and Laura continued to beat and batter Missy, mainly focusing on her face. The beating is so severe that one of her earrings ends up pulled out of her ear and is entangled into her long brown hair.

One of them has something…perhaps a knife, a rock, and hacks at her beautiful brown hair. Clumps fall to the ground. Psychological experts say this is an attempt to dehumanize a victim. Something that is done is many cases. It could also be an attempt to make a pretty Missy look different, perhaps not attractive.

Laura Doyle is shouting “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done!  You’re going to pay for sleeping with our boyfriends!”

They begin to carry Missy who weighs a mere 98 pounds. Laura carries her feet while Karen carries her by the arms, which are bent at the elbow and behind her back.

Michele Avila is struggling and trying with all her might to get away. Most can say that by this point she knew her fate.

The two carried her to shallow water which is approximately 8 inches deep and forcefully hold her head under water. She struggles for several minutes then stops. They continue to hold her head under water for several more minutes and then spot a 4-foot, 100 pound log and carry it over and place it on her head/neck area.

Michele Yvette Avila is dead.

August 1988 - Michele "Missy" Avila  Daily News file photo

missy-avila

missy-childhood

Childhood photo of Missy

Karen Severson and Laura Doyle calmly walked back to their cars and speed off. Missy’s body lies flat and still in the ankle-deep water, face down. The same position she was held down in. One foot lies placed over the other and her gold anklet reflects the afternoon sunlight. One arm is bent back behind her at the elbow.

Eva is scared during the car ride back to Arleta, asking Laura “what happened, where’s Missy?” — She is told that she was drowned and although both Laura and Karen appeared speedy and jittery after the murder, they showed zero remorse for their actions.

A few minutes later, Karen and Laura joined me. Karen Severson jumped into her car and drove away. When I got into the car with Laura, she said “We killed Missy.”  “I asked Laura “are you sure she’s dead?”   Laura said “she is.” Then she said ” Missy deserved to die because she slept with Victor (Amaya).”

Missy fails to return home by 8PM and her mother calls Karen who has a supposed alibi.  The police are called the next morning. Three days later hikers make the grisly discovery after stopping by the creek. At first they discovered a piece of clothing which turned out to be Missy’s sock which came off during the struggle. They looked up and from a distance noticed her decomposing body and ran off to alert police.

Irene Avila is devastated of her daughter’s death and spends many months looking for her killer. Laura sends Irene a get well letter with a $20 bill inside. Karen played the grieving friend and even moved in the Avila home. The two would stalk out possible ‘suspects’. Karen became strangely obsessed with taken over Missy’s life and even used her make up and clothes. Irene kept Missy’s room untouched and fell into a deep depression. It would take six months before justice was sought and Irene Avila fainted when she realized that her daughters killer was none other than her two best friends. The same friend who moved in after her death. She was sick and sought a therapist after the ordeal.

August 1988 - Left, Ryan Avila with his mother Irene.  Daily News file photo
Photo of Irene Avila and Missy’s oldest brother

IRENE AVILA

Photo of Irene Avila holding up a photo of Missy – This photo was taken years after her death

Missy’s murder remained unsolved for six months until one day Eva Chirumbolo’s brother commits suicide and she falls into depression and realized what Irene Avila went threw when she lost Michele.

Laura and Karen were arrested, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment however, both have since been paroled and are out walking the streets today.

karen_court_photo

Photo of Karen Severson during her trail (I believe this was a later trail, possibly a parole hearing and not the trail that convicted her.)

laura_doyle_grown_up_prison_photo

Laura Doyle prison photo which was posted on a prison pen-pal websites. It appears that these girls are STILL seeking out boys and attention years on as they sit in prison. Creeps!

Irene Avila had a really bad feeling just before her teenage daughter Missy was found battered and drowned in a Big Tujunga Canyon stream. And the Lake Balboa mother felt pangs of dread before learning Karen Severson — her daughter’s killer and childhood friend — was released on parole in the Summer of 2011. Her dread deepened in December 2012 when her slained daughters second killer, Laura Doyle, was released as well.  Both woman now grown adult are walking among us, free to do as they please.

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.

The Murder of Bobby Kent (BULLY)

Bobby-Kent-MurderBobby Kent (May 12, 1973 – July 15, 1993)

Murder Of Robert ‘Bobby’ Kent

Bobby Kent had met Martin “Marty” Puccio in the third grade and instantly they became great pals. They lived close to one another and were always together at each others houses or riding bikes, etc. Soon it went from building ‘forts’ to liking girls and that’s when resentment, jealousy and hatred grew.

Toward the beginning of 1993 Martin (Marty) Puccio (aged 20) began dating Lisa Connelly (aged 18).

Being frustrated by how much time her boyfriend spent with Bobby, Lisa tried to distract him from Marty by setting up her friend Alice (Ali) Willis (aged 17) with Kent. They dated a few weeks but Bobby was abusive toward Ali so Ali so she cut off the relationship. In June, Marty confided to Lisa that Bobby had been abusive to him quite often over the years. Lisa tried to convince him to cut off his friendship, but Marty did not seem able to do that. By that time, Lisa knew she was pregnant by Marty and was determined that Bobby was not going to get in her way of a permanent relationship with Marty. Although Lisa admitted to having sex with Bobby as well as Marty, she maintained the baby was Marty’s. This baby, now a teenager, had a DNA test performed and discovered that she is in fact Bobby’s daughter. It is unknown if he fathered any other children before his death.

According to sources, for a few weeks prior to his murder, Bobby dated Ali and when she moved back with her parents in Palm Bay, Florida, and broke up with him, Kent said he was going to murder her and smother her baby unless she returned to Broward County to date him.

Lisa’s hatred for Bobby grew for a number a reasons including him beating and bullying Marty as well as raping Ali, her bestfriend. Bobby was also known to commonly refer to Lisa, who was overweight, as “fatass”, “tatonka”, “potlock” “chub” and “Shamu”, often encouraging and/or forcing Marty to do the same.

Allegedly, Lisa decided that Bobby needed to be eliminated permanently and started talking to Marty and other friends about murdering him. On Tuesday, July 13, 1993, Lisa called Ali and told her that “Bobby was planning to come to Palm Bay (where Ali was living) to murder her and smother her baby (by a previous relationship) unless she returned to Broward County to date him again.” Ali claimed Lisa asked her to come to her house to discuss murdering Bobby Kent. Ali went to Lisa’s house and brought two friends, her current boyfriend, Donald (Donny) Semenec (aged 17), and Heather Swallers (aged 18). Lisa had previously contacted a self-proclaimed “hit man,” named Derek Kaufman, who had been recommended by some friends. When Ali, Donny and Heather arrived, they all went to Kaufman’s home. They told him they wanted him to get a gun so they could kill Kent that night, but Kaufman told them he could not get a gun that fast. The four went back to Lisa’s house and were joined by Lisa’s cousin, Derek Dzvirko. Puccio apparently was not a part of these meetings on the 13th.

On July 14 around 11:30p.m. the six joined together at Marty’s house and discussed their plans and their roles. They had a lead pipe, two knives and a baseball bat. Marty had asked Bobby Kent to join them around 11:45pm. Marty told him that Ali was going to be there as well. Apparently Kent thought he might be able to hook up with his former girlfriend, not realizing that his best friend and ex girlfriend were helping with his murder.

All together the seven headed out to a construction site.  As soon as they got there Ali, in accordance with the plan, took Bobby off to a secluded spot where they were talking. Heather Swallers joined them there and while she and Ali distracted Bobby, Donny Semenec came up and stabbed Bobby in the neck with a knife. Bobby yelled out, “Marty, whatever I’ve done to make you mad, I’m sorry.” Then he asked for Marty’s help. Instead Marty stuck a knife in Bobby’s stomach. Derek Kaufman then approached and hit Bobby with the baseball bat, which was the final blow. After this was all done Derek Dzvirko helped dump the body. Lisa was not involved in the actual murder.

Willis was going to walk Bobby down to the water at Palm Bay, pretending to mend their ‘relationship.’ And Swallers was going to go down to Willis and Kent and talk about the crocodiles, which was the ”code word”

9630222

MUGSHOT: Martin Joseph Puccio, Jr. also known as “Marty” is now 39

Martin Puccio was convicted and sentenced to death but that sentence was reduced in 1997 to life in prison.

Donny Semenec was given a life sentence, and Derek Kaufman was given life plus 30 years. Lisa was convicted and given life in prison but that sentence was reduced to 22 years. She gave birth to her and Kent’s child during her incarceration. She was released in 2004. Alice Willis was convicted and given a 17 year sentence. She was released in 2001. Derek Dzvirko served 6 years in state prison. Heather Swallers served 5 years and was released on parole in 1998.

MUGSHOT PHOTOS

derekkaufman

Derek Kaufman, now 39, self-proclaimed “mafia leader and hitman”

derekdzvirko

Derek Dzvirko, now 40, cousin of Lisa Connelly

Lisa Connelly

Lisa Connelly who is now 37 –  Connelly was arrested in 2007 for a traffic violation which can be seen at Florida Arrests

donnysemenec

Donny Semenec (now 39)

heatherswallers

Heather Swallers (now 37)

Conspirators:

Martin Joseph (Marty) Puccio – March 21, 1973 – Bobby’s best friend since childhood, boyfriend of Lisa Connelly.

Lisa Marie Connelly – July 31, 1974 – Marty’s girlfriend. Was angry at Kent for beating and bullying Marty as well as allegedly raping her best friend, Alice Slay. Kent was also known to commonly refer to Connelly (who was overweight) as “fatass”, “tatonka”, “potlock” “chub” and “Shamu”, often encouraging and/or forcing Puccio to do the same. On January 5, 1994 Lisa Connelly, who was Puccio’s girlfriend, gave birth to their daughter. She is in the custody of Connelly’s parents in Central Florida.

Alice Jean Slay (Ali Willis) – August 29, 1975 – Kent’s former girlfriend, set up with Kent by Connelly in the hopes that if he was with her, he’d leave Puccio alone. Allegedly involved in a teenage prostitution ring prior to Kent’s murder.

Donald Roth (Donny) Semenec Jr. – July 15, 1975 – Slay’s boyfriend at the time of the murder. Habitual drug user. Supposedly helped in the murder because he was angry at Kent for raping his girlfriend. Struck the first blow on Kent. Murder occurred on his 18th birthday.

Derek Leon Kaufman – May 8, 1973 – Self-proclaimed mafia hitman who the group enlisted to plan Kent’s murder. Had no association to any of the other conspirators prior to this. Was actually the leader of a gang of youths 7-10 years younger than he was, who committed petty crimes such as theft.

Derek George Dzvirko – November 2, 1973 – Connelly’s cousin who was enlisted for extra help by Connelly. Played a minor role in the murder, borrowed one of the baseball bats used to kill Kent from a friend. Along with Swallers, was offered and accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testimony that would help convict others in the group. The two were originally promised the same prison sentence, however Dzvirko got four extra years for attempting to lie on the witness stand.

Heather June Swallers – May 24, 1975 – Previous friend of Slay who had just gotten out of drug rehab. The member of the group deemed by the State of Florida to be the least culpable for Kent’s murder. Had no participation in the murder itself and ran and hid in Slay’s car once it started. Cut the same plea bargain as Dzvirko did and got the promised sentence because unlike him, she did not lie during her testimony.

The co-perpetrators were convicted and sentenced as follows:

Heather Swallers – second-degree murder and conspiracy (seven years imprisonment); Released February 14, 1998

Derek Dzvirko – second-degree murder and conspiracy (11 years imprisonment) Released October 1, 1999

Alice Willis – second-degree murder and conspiracy (40 years imprisonment, which was commuted on appeal to 17 years in prison. She was released on parole on September 16, 2001 and is currently under community supervision for 40 years)

Donald Semenec (aka Day) – second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and 15 years imprisonment) He is incarcerated at Columbia Annex DC number 963020

Derek Kaufman – first-degree murder and conspiracy (the jury recommended life and he was sentenced to life and 30 years imprisonment) He is incarcerated at Mayo/C.I. DC number 894391

Lisa Connelly – second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and five years imprisonment, which was reversed on appeal and reduced to 22 years; she was released on parole on February 3, 2004).

Martin Puccio – first-degree murder and conspiracy. He is incarcerated at Desoto Annex DC number 963022.

* Alice Willis, after serving her time for being 1 of the 7 involved in Bobby Kent’s Murder had finally decided to an interview, 18 years later.*

AliWillis

Left: Police Photo Of Ali Willis In 1993 (17)

Right: Photo of Ali Willis at 35

Today she is a 35-year-old  stay-at-home mother of four. Ali Willis was 17 when she helped plan the stabbing  and beating death of her ex-boyfriend. Willis said she was brought  into the mix by her best friend, Lisa Connelly. Connelly was pregnant with the  child of Kent’s best friend Marty Puccio. In 1993, Puccio said he felt he’d  “been pushed around” too much by Kent, claiming he was a bully.
Not too long after Willis  met Kent, Puccio and Connelly started plotting murder. Broward County detectives  said Lisa Connelly called her friend Willis to help in their plot and the group  grew from there.
Detective Frank Ilarraza  with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office worked on the case. “Ali requested others to  come along and do it,” Detective Ilarraza said. “It’s like it didn’t faze her.  They had total disregard for human life.”
But Willis said she thought  she was just visiting friends. Her new boyfriend Donny Semenec and friend  Heather Swallers came along. Lisa Connelly ‘s cousin, Derek Dzvirko, and a  self-proclaimed hitman Derek Kaufman were also involved. “Somebody said, ‘Oh, why  don’t you just kill him.’ You know, a flipping off the wall joke,” Willis told  NBC Miami.
Detectives said their  original plan was Willis would meet Bobby Kent at a construction site in Weston  and shoot him.
“I never had a gun,” Willis  said. “Lisa did have a gun on her. The gun  was just there.”
The next night, the “Broward Seven”  as they became known, tricked Kent into coming back to the construction site in  Weston. He thought they were drag racing, and Willis said she thought she was  there to witness a fight, not murder. “I got beat by that man,”  Willis said. “So yeah, I wanted to see him get beat up. I wanted him to know how  it feels.”
What happened that night  was made into a movie called “Bully” and Willis said the murder scene portrayed  in it is accurate. Willis acted as bait, leading Kent into a trap. It all  started with Willis’ new boyfriend, Donny Semenec, stabbing Kent in the neck.
Marty+puccio+and+bobby+kent
 Actor Nick Stahl (left) played the part of Bobby Kent, portrayed as the ”bully” who was constantly abusing, degrading and teasing Marty Puccino (played by actor Brad Renfro, right, who died in 2008 in a drug overdose.) Renfro was portrayed as a ‘victim’ of Bobby Kent. A friend who secretly harbored a resentful hatred for his supposed ‘best friend’
“What I remember after that  was he screaming at Marty, Bobby’s yelling at Marty: ‘Get him, get him. Do  something, do something. He hit me, he hit me,'” Willis said. “I remember  standing there, and I seen Marty go like this. To me, it looked like he hauled  off and hit him. I’ll never forget the look on his face when this happened. I  looked down and there was blood everywhere … and he was holding his stomach …  and I just froze.”Marty Puccio stabbed Kent  multiple times and slit his throat twice. Finally, Derek Kaufman, who didn’t  even know Kent, went after him with a baseball bat.
The lead detective at the  time, Ilarraza said in his 30 years on the job, it is the most shocking case he  has ever worked. “This was very personal,”  Ilarraza said. “They got right on him – where you could smell him, where you  could hear him breathing – and that’s when they savagely killed him.”
Four days later, Lisa  Connelly’s cousin Derek Dzvirko confessed, leading police to Kent’s  body.
“As soon as I got out of  the car, you could smell the decomposing body,” Ilarraza said.
After her son’s murder,  Farah Kent told NBC Miami, she thought Willis was the mastermind, a lover scorned. “He didn’t want to see her  anymore,” Kent said. “That’s why I think the whole thing happened.”
But in court, it was proven  that it was Kent’s best friend Marty Puccio, and his girlfriend Lisa Connelly  behind the murder plan, but all seven helped carry it out.
In 1993, a detective  said, “If one of these people simply said, ‘No. This is wrong,’ I think the  whole group would’ve backed off their plans.”
Willis told NBC Miami, she doesn’t know why she didn’t  say anything to stop it. “It was fear, but it was  almost like being in a trance,” Willis said.
Marty Puccio, Donny Semenec  and Derek Kaufman were all sentenced to life in prison. The four who were part  of the planning but did not attack Kent, are now all out of jail.
Willis, originally  sentenced to 40 years, served eight.
“I do think I should have  gotten some prison time,” Willis said.  “I do agree with that totally, but I don’t believe I got off easy.” “It was a  big deal, but I didn’t kill him … I honestly didn’t believe that he would end up  dead. How can you feel remorse for something you didn’t do?”
But being a mom, Willis  said she does feel sorry for Kent’s parents. “I would tell them I’m  sorry I was there, I’m sorry I never said anything,” she said. “I am sorry I  didn’t try to stop it. I am sorry I didn’t say something.”
Willis was the only one of  the Broward Seen who agreed to an interview. She said she does not keep in touch  with any of the others.
Kent’s  parents still live in Broward County. They declined an interview saying it’s  been 18 years and they are ready to put their son’s murder behind  them.

The murder of Bobby Kent resulted in a best-selling true crime book in 1998, Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge (ISBN 0-380-72333-6), written by Jim Schutze. The book was adapted by Zachary Long (a pseudonym used by David McKenna after he demanded his name be removed from the film and Roger Pullis into the 2001 film, Bully, directed by Larry Clark. The story was also covered during an episode of the A&E series American Justice.
In the film, Puccio was portrayed by Brad Renfro, Kent was portrayed by Nick Stahl, Willis was portrayed by Bijou Phillips, Connelly was portrayed by Rachel Miner, Semenec was portrayed by Michael Pitt, Swallers was portrayed by Kelli Garner, Dzvirko was portrayed by Daniel Franzese, and Kaufman was portrayed by Leo Fitzpatrick.