Why didn't Childish Gambino attend the Grammy Awards? Because it has a long history of dissing hip hop
Childish Gambino was a no show at this year's Grammy Awards, despite winning Song of the Year. Photo: AFP
It's one thing for a major star to snub the Grammy Awards, but it's something else when they happen to be the winner of one of the night's major gongs.
The 61st edition of the awards suffered such an indignity when organisers and a crowd full of artists had to watch singers John Mayer and Alicia Keys – the latter soon to headline the Dubai Jazz Festival on February 22 – hurriedly accept one of the Grammy’s marquee awards, Song of the Year, on behalf of the absent Childish Gambino for his powerful viral hit This is America.
The rapper and actor emerged victorious from a competitive list of nominees that featured Drake (God’s Plan), Kendrick Lamar and SZA (All the Stars), Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (Shallow), Ella Mai (Boo’d Up), Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey (The Middle), and Brandi Carlile (The Joke).
To put into context how major Gambino’s spurn is, he was the first ever hip-hop artist to win Song of the Year, which is a big moment. And the last artist to have a major Grammy award accepted in absentia was back in 2003 when Luther Vandross sent one of his managers to pick up his Song of the Year trophy for Dance with My Father.
But unlike Vandross, there weren't health reasons for Gambino’s no-show. This was another chapter in the feud between the hip-hop community and the Grammy Awards.
This was also highlighted by Drake’s unwieldy acceptance speech after winning Best Rap Song for God's Plan. In a direct diss to the event, he said: “Look, if there are people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here. I promise you”.
Eminem, Kanye, and a history of disrespect towards hip hopA cardinal sin of hip-hop culture is to show disrespect, and artists are increasingly taking to task various institutions, ranging from the NFL to clothing brands Gucci and H&M for slights against the music and its community. The Grammy Awards is a repeat offender.
The seeds of the award show's troubled history with hip-hop go as far back as 1989 when the Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance (both won by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince) were introduced to the awards. But the move was undercut by the Grammy's decision to not include the Best Rap Performance as part of its telecast, which prompted a boycott from a host of artists including DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and LL Cool J.
Ever since, the relationship has been a rocky one, with some levity found when Lauryn Hill's 1999 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Outkast's 2004 Speakerboxxx/The Love Below both won Album of the Year.
But these felt like anomalies, and the Grammys then continued to sideline hip-hop into genre specific categories, while handing out major awards to acts who, respectfully speaking, are not part of the global cultural conversation - including a lot of country music, and plenty of jazz.
Eminem's classic The Marshall Mathers LP may have been heralded as a seminal point of pop culture, but he had to sit through the niche jazz pop duo, Steely Dan, picking up the 2001 Album of the Year for Two Against Nature. In 2005 it was Kanye West's turn - the first of a seemingly endless Album of the Year snubs - when his brilliant debut The College Drop Out lost out to Ray Charles's posthumous album Genius Love Company.
The list continues: legacy act U2, country music darlings The Dixie Chicks, jazz great Herbie Hancock, bluegrass duo Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and even the vapid folk group Mumford and Sons all went on to pick Album of the Year nods, while hip-hop acts - despite the genre accruing increasing commercial clout and fast establishing itself as a cultural leader - remained away from the spotlight.
Hip-hop’s fightbackHip-hop’s latest fight back against the Grammy’s really ramped up in 2016 when Frank Ocean didn’t submit his critically lauded album Blonde for Grammy consideration, labelling the event “dated.” The Grammys eventually responded to the growing angst - and low ratings - by expanding the diversity of its membership and setting up committees to ensure quality control and relevancy when it comes to nominations.
This resulted in a slew of hip-hop acts nominated for major awards last year, with Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino all vying for albums of the year. Inexplicably, however, it was Bruno Mars's catchy yet ultimately safe and unremarkable 24K Magic that took out the category, and a lot of that goodwill was lost. This was further compounded when Lamar’s album Damn went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music – it seems like a panel of academics were far more aware of its quality than a group of music industry tastemakers and insiders.
With all that bad blood, Gambino’s decision to skip the awards is not at all that surprising. But what should keep Grammy organisers awake at night is whether a major exodus of artists from the wider urban music world lies ahead, thus cementing the ceremony’s irrelevancy, perhaps irrevocably.
State Attorney Brian Haas speaks to assembled media, Friday, February 8, 2019. (Stephanie Claytor/Spectrum Bay News 9)
SEBRING, Fla. -- The death penalty will be sought against the man charged in the Sebring bank shooting that left five women dead, State Attorney Brian Haas said Friday.Zephen Xaver has been indicted by a grand jury on five charges of first-degree murder, Haas also said Friday.
The five women were killed January 23, execution-style, investigators say, inside a SunTrust bank.
"Anybody that has a family member that's murdered, to them that's the worst case that they can imagine," Haas said. "As state attorney, it's my job to make sure that we're using the death penalty as appropriately as we can in compliance with the law."
"If you look at this situation with the horror of what happened, with five victims, for me it was an obvious conclusion to reach," he said.
State Attorney Brian Haas announces he will seek the death penalty in the SunTrust Mass shooting. 5 women were shot and killed inside. @BN9 pic.twitter.com/JyWobMn6t1
— Stephanie Claytor (@ClaytorReports) February 8, 2019The identities of four of the victims have been released. The fifth victim's name hasn't been released at the family's request, under a new Florida law.
Jessica Montague, 31; Marisol Lopez, 55; Ana Pinon Williams, 38; and Cynthia Watson, 65, were killed in the shooting.
Investigators have not released a motive. The slayings did not appear to be part of a robbery, and Xaver had no apparent connection to the SunTrust branch or the four employees and one customer who were killed, according to Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund.
According to Hoglund, Xaver "overtook the bank by force. He then shot everyone in the bank. After shooting them, he called 911 and told dispatchers that he'd killed everyone in the bank."
Investigators determined the shootings happened in just six minutes, between 12:30 p.m. to 12:36 p.m. Investigators said all victims were shot execution-style in the back of the head.
SunTrust said the bank, located off U.S. Highway 27, will not re-open.
Kirsten Marina Costas (July 23, 1968 – June 23, 1984) was an American high school student who was murdered by her classmate, Bernadette Protti, in June 1984.
The daughter of affluent parents, Arthur and Berit Costas, Kirsten and her brother, Peter, grew up in the small suburban town of Orinda, California. Costas went to Miramonte High School, and was a member of the school's varsity swim team and the cheerleading squad.
On June 23, 1984, Costas was lured with a phony invitation to a dinner for the Bob-o-Links, a sorority-like group at school. According to Protti's later testimony, she had planned to take Costas to the party to befriend her, but Costas got angry when she was told that there was no dinner for the new "Bobbies". The girls quarreled, and Costas fled to the home of Alex and Mary Jane Arnold, living nearby, telling them that her friend had gone "weird". When Costas could not reach her parents by telephone, Alex Arnold drove her home, noticing that a Pinto–the Protti's family car–was following them. At the Costas home, Arnold, sitting in his car, saw Protti attack Costas. He thought that he was seeing a fist-fight but, in fact, Protti stabbed Costas five times with a kitchen knife and fled. The Costas' neighbors called an ambulance, but Kirsten was mortally wounded and died at a nearby hospital.
It took the police almost six months to find Costas' killer. After Protti passed a lie detector test, her alibi went unverified. After attempting to confirm Protti's alibi and rereading her lie detector test, the police knew that the girl had lied. After speaking with an FBI officer, Protti wrote her mother a letter in which she made a full confession.
Protti 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 vegetables. The Costas did not believe Protti's story – they claimed that nobody would use an 18-inch-long (460 mm) 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. Protti was sentenced to a maximum of nine years, but was released seven years later on parole.
The Costas family left Orinda and moved to Hawaii. Bernadette Protti was released from prison in 1992 at the age of 23, whereupon she changed her name and left California. Costas' parents vehemently opposed Protti's release.
In popular culture
In 1994, the story was made into a television movie entitled A Friend to Die For (also known as Death of a Cheerleader), with Tori Spelling as Stacy Lockwood, a character based on Kirsten Costas and Kellie Martin as Angela Delvecchio, a character based on Bernadette Protti.
Orinda Woman, Convicted in 1984 Murder, Is Free on Parole
By Martin Halstuk - The San Francisco Chronicle
June 26, 1992
Bernadette Protti, the socially spurned Orinda teenager who was driven by resentment and envy to kill a popular high school classmate eight years ago, has been freed on parole and is believed to have left California.
Protti, now 23, was sentenced in 1985 to nine years under the jurisdiction of the California Youth Authority for fatally stabbing 15- year-old cheerleader Kirsten Costas with a kitchen knife in June 1984. She served less than eight years of her sentence.
Although one parole examiner described Protti as dangerous and possessing ''a hidden trigger that anyone can pull,'' the state Youthful Offender Parole Board released her on June 10 in a 2-to-1 decision at CYA's Ventura School near Camarillo in Ventura County.
Costas and Protti were students at Miramonte High School in Orinda when the murder occurred. Police had no suspect for nearly six months until Protti -- who was one of the mourners at the girl's funeral -- turned herself in.
At two previous parole hearings, the victim's parents, Arthur and Berit Costas, vehemently opposed Protti's release.
The couple, who now live in Hawaii, told parole examiners that Protti might be deceiving prison authorities into thinking she is rehabilitated, just as she deceived her family and friends for six months after the killing. Instead of attending this latest hearing, they sent a videotape in which they urged the parole board not to release their daughter's killer.
Interviewed by phone at his home in Honolulu, Arthur Costas said last night that he was disheartened by Protti's release.
''From a victim's standpoint, the punishment doesn't even begin to equate to the magnitude of the crime,'' said Costas. He said he resented a justice system that placed Protti in a facility where she could have a boyfriend and complete her high school education -- opportunities that were denied his daughter.
''You can't replace your child so you think about that all the time,'' said Costas, who said that he worries that Protti remains dangerous to the public. ''The emotions and the public safety -- we lose on both counts.''
Protti's early release was recommended by parole board member Jamie Bailey and hearing officer Sergio Gomez, who wrote in their majority opinion that she ''no longer present(s) an immediate threat to society.''
But in his dissent, released to The Chronicle by the parole board, board member Victor Wisehart wrote that Costas' killer ''remains a danger to the public and is in need of further treatment to address her inability to control her anger and impulses.''
Wisehart referred to a recent incident during which Protti demonstrated ''anger and a lack of impulse control'' in a confrontation with her boyfriend at the Youth Authority school.
''I hate to think how she would have handled the incident had she been on parole and able to arm herself and stalk again another victim,'' Wisehart said.
''She has a hidden trigger that anyone can pull just by not giving (her) what she thinks she should get in a relationship.''
A CYA spokesman said Protti has left the state but would not say where.
During the trial in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez, testimony revealed that Protti craved social acceptance and resented Kirsten's popularity and success.
The evidence included a tearful confession to police in which Protti said she felt inferior to the socially active Costas.
Protti also said that she was embarrassed that her family did not have as much money as other Orindans and said that Costas had made fun of her ''crummy'' skis on a ski trip once.
Protti was convicted of second- degree murder after a much publicized three-day trial that Superior Court Judge Edward Merrill said ''smacked of entertainment.''
The judge rejected prosecutor John Oda's arguments for first-degree murder. Oda said that Protti -- suffering from the rejection of her peers -- had acted with ''premeditation and wanton disregard for human life.''
Like all female juveniles convicted of serious crimes, she was sent to the Youth Authority's Ventura School.
According to the CYA, Protti has earned her high school diploma with a 4.0 average and has taken enough courses through a local community college to qualify for an associate in arts degree.
Chronicle staff writer Teresa L. Moore contributed to this report.
Sentence in Murder was 'Light'
Dead Girl's Classmates are Angry
By Rob Haeseler - The San Francisco Chronicle
March 15, 1985
Students at Miramonte High School in Orinda, whose social acceptance Bernadette Protti craved, said yesterday she should be kept in prison for a long time.
Protti, 16, was convicted of second-degree murder Wednesday for stabbing to death last June her popular classmate, Kirsten Costas, 15, a varsity swimmer and cheerleader.
Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward L. Merrill, who heard the case without a jury, refused to convict her of first-degree murder. He said premeditation had not been proved.
''I was mad when I heard that - everyone was,'' said a girl who had known neither Bernadette nor Kirsten. ''Obviously it was premeditated. Five stab wounds? Come on.''
''To say that (murder) wasn't planned, I don't know what they're talking about,'' said Doug Jordan, 15, a freshman.
Even if Protti remains in custody at the Youth Authority's Ventura School until she reaches the age of 25 ''it would be a little light for murdering somebody,'' Jordan said.
''Life!'' demanded another student.
The students' attitude seemed to confirm Protti's worst fears when she confessed to authorities last December. ''There are about 500 people who want to shoot me right now,'' she told investigators.
A 17-year-old senior who said he ''grew up with Kirsten'' objected to a defense strategy that tried to make her appear less ingenuous by asserting she had smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine.
''I don't think that's making Bernadette any more innocent by making Kirsten look bad,'' he said. ''It doesn't do the community any good either.''
All of the students interviewed yesterday said Protti would have a hard time returning to Orinda after prison.
''I don't think she'll come back here,'' said the 17-year-old senior. ''I wouldn't if I was her family. I'd move a long ways away.''
Both adolescents and adults appeared to be frustrated by the complexities of the juvenile justice system. Some adults who were interviewed in downtown Orinda expressed the view that Protti would be imprisoned for the next nine years. Others mistakenly believed a first-degree verdict would have imposed a harsher sentence.
Art Costas, Kirsten's father, said the sentence is ''the point everyone has missed. She's not going to prison, necessarily, until she's 25. She could get out, say, in three years. To me, that's not right.''
Costas voiced his appreciation of the district attorney's office for pursuing the trial and allowing the facts to come out.
''It wasn't good for Bernadette,'' Costas said, ''but it showed her the intent of the law.''
Protti's attorney, assistant public defender Charles James, said the trial needlessly prolonged the humiliation of the defendant and her family. He offered five weeks ago to have Protti plead guilty to second-degree murder - a compromise the district attorney's office would not accept.
The judge's statement that he hoped the trial had served a purpose more useful than ''entertainment'' provoked a strong reaction from parents in other parts of the Bay Area who saw the case as a tragic spectacle.
''It was a double tragedy,'' said a Marin County housewife. ''I think these well-groomed women who raise their children this way are guilty too because they bring them up from infancy with designer clothes. They breed it - the emphasis on popularity. It made me cry, and I felt ashamed of being a woman.'
Orinda Teenager Convicted Of Second-Degree Murder
By Rob Haeseler - The San Francisco Chronicle
March 14, 1985
A socially spurned Orinda teenager was convicted of second-degree murder yesterday after a three-day trial that the judge said smacked of ''entertainment.''
Bernadette Protti, 16, wept as she was escorted in handcuffs to Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall after Superior Court Judge Edward Merrill found her guilty of stabbing Kirsten Costas to death last June.
The judge rejected the arguments of prosecutor John Oda that Protti - suffering from the rejection of her peers and the acute embarrassment of being labeled ''weird'' in fashionable Orinda - had acted with premeditation and ''wanton disregard for human life.''
Both the judge and the attorney representing Protti, Assistant Public Defender Charles James, questioned whether the trial had served any useful purpose.
Because Protti was being tried as a juvenile, Merrill heard the case without a jury. Under California law, Protti would have received the same sentence whether she was convicted of first-degree or second-degree murder. She will be placed in the custody of the California Youth Authority, which can release her at any time, but must free her when she turns 25.
It was disclosed on Tuesday that the Public Defender's Office had attempted five weeks ago to have Protti plead guilty to second-degree murder. The offer was rejected by District Attorney Gary Yancey.
Oda said that Kirsten's parents, Art and Berit Costas, supported his decision to try the case and seek a conviction for first-degree murder.
The last day of the brief but emotional trial revolved around the merits of a public juvenile proceeding that so obviously prolonged the agony of the defendant and her family.
Since her arrest last December after confessing, Protti has been comforted throughout her court appearances by her parents and her four sisters. The tears were torrential at the trial.
There was keen interest in the case by residents of Orinda - mostly well-groomed mothers and daughters -who rushed the small courtroom for seats in the spectator's section.
As many as 40 were removed each day by the bailiff when they lined the walls, kneeled on the floor or sat on others' laps.
There were frequent arguments over who was more deserving of a seat. Most often, the parents won.
''The atmosphere surrounding this case has bothered me somewhat,'' Judge Merrill said. ''We have kind of an Alice in Wonderland situation.''
''I'm really wondering what we have accomplished here these last three days,'' Merrill said. ''I'm just hoping this (trial) isn't here for some entertainment value.''
Defense attorney James told the judge that ''Bernadette had said she feared nothing more than public humiliation, and that happened. . . . There was really no purpose to have this trial. I think the quality of justice suffers.''
After the judge announced his verdict, James said: ''Perhaps it helped purge the melancholy surrounding this case. I'm not sure what went on for Bernadette is a healthy or good thing.''
Prosecutor Oda, describing the case as ''pathetic,'' said it ''had to be brought out in the open. The Costases believed it was first-degree murder. They wanted it and you can't blame them.''
Art Costas had pushed hard for action when no suspect surfaced by the time Orinda's teenagers returned to Miramonte High School last fall. He warned that his daughter's killer might be among them - and he was right.
''I guess my feeling is that the law has been served,'' he said yesterday, looking tired and slightly dejected. ''I'm not in agreement with the punishment. I'm not thrilled or pleased. (The trial) was good from the standpoint of hearing all the facts and evidence. We've lost our daughter. I don't think the punishment will ever match the crime in this case.''
Unanswered to the end was what provoked Protti to stab Costas to death after luring her to a bogus sorority initiation dinner. 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.
James countered that teenagers in Orinda may react more sensitively to slights because their parents' expectations for them are so high.
''There are no low expectations at Miramonte,'' he said. ''No one's studying to be a hod carrier.''
Girl, 16, Convicted in Classmate's Slaying : Teen-ager Feared Victim 'Was Going to Tell People I Was Weird'
Los Angeles Times
March 14, 1985
MARTINEZ, Calif. — A 16-year-old girl was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a classmate she feared was about to tell schoolmates that she was "weird."
Bernadette Protti had been charged with first-degree murder in the June 23 slaying of 15-year-old Kirsten Costas.
However, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward L. Merrill, who heard the juvenile case without a jury, said prosecutors failed to prove first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt and ordered Protti to appear on April 1 for sentencing.
After surrendering in December, Protti told police she resented Costas and attacked her because "I was afraid she was going to tell people I was weird."
There also was a suggestion that Protti was jealous of her more popular and successful classmate.
"I lost for cheerleader and I didn't get the club I wanted and I didn't get (on the) yearbook (staff)," Protti told officers in a taped confession played at the trial. "The things that got me mad was it hurt and I couldn't change . . . like looks or money or popularity or things."
Protti lured Costas to her death with a phony invitation to an initiation dinner for the Bob-O-Links, a Junior League-style volunteer group at Miramonte High School. Both girls had been invited to join the group.
After the verdict, Art Costas, Kirsten's father, told reporters: "My feeling is that the law has been served . . . . We've lost our daughter. I don't believe the punishment will ever match the crime."
Trial Hears Girl's Confession of East Bay Slaying
By Rob Haeseler - The San Francisco Chronicle
March 13, 1985
Bernadette Protti only wanted to ''hurt'' Kirsten Costas when she stabbed her to death last June, a tape recording of her confession disclosed yesterday.
Protti reacted so violently because she was afraid her popular classmate in Orinda would tell their friends she was ''weird.''
Her taped confession was played to a crowded courtroom in Martinez, where she is on trial for murdering the Miramonte High School cheerleader.
''I thought that she was going to tell everybody at school that I was really weird,'' Protti said. ''I can't explain it. I don't understand it. It was, like, if I had been thinking straight it would never have happened. . . . Afterwards I was just so horrified and sick.''
Once on a ski trip, she claimed, Costas had made a comment about her skis that hurt her because her family couldn't afford ''nice'' skis.
''She had never liked me but I thought she was OK,'' Protti said of her 15-year-old classmate. ''The thing that got me mad was it hurt and I couldn't change. . . . Like, looks or money or popularity or things.''
The 16-year-old suspect surrendered last December to FBI agent Ronald Hilley, ending a baffling six-month investigation.
Hilley prefaced the girl's confession by testifying that Protti had begun to feel rejected as a sophomore.
Costas, a varsity swimmer and cheerleader, ''had been somewhat symbolic of the rejection,'' he said.
The two teenagers were members of the same service organization but they were not friends.
Through the disjointed, 1 1/4-hour tape, Protti recounted how she had used a ruse to get her father's car. She picked up Costas on the excuse that they were going to an initiation dinner for members of the service club.
Protti said Costas had learned from friends that there wasn't going to be a dinner. Instead, Protti invited her to a party.
The two drove to the parking lot of a church in Moraga.
''We went to the church because she wanted to smoke (some marijuana) or whatever, and I didn't,'' the suspect said. ''And then we argued. . . . Well, not really argued. She put me down.''
At that point, Costas ran from the car to the home of strangers, Alex and Mary Jane Arnold. When she failed to reach her parents by phone, Alex Arnold drove her home. Protti followed in her car at a short distance.
Costas' parents were away attending a potluck dinner for their son. Before Kirsten could seek refuge in a neighbor's home, she was stabbed five times.
Throughout the rambling confession, Protti repeated often that she could not explain her conduct. ''I guess I was angry,'' she said. ''I really don't know. She was telling me to go away. I just got angry and I did it.''
She said she drove home immediately, ''flushed the marijuana down the toilet and washed off the knife.'' She thought that if Kirsten had only been wounded the police soon would arrive.
It was not until the next morning that she heard her classmate was dead.
Extensive testimony focused yesterday on the murder weapon, which is believed to be a wooden-handled kitchen knife with a blade at least 12 inches long.
Protti said she had ''noticed'' a knife in the car during her drive with Costas.
''It's possible I left it there,'' testified Mary Ann Protti, one of the suspect's older sisters, who said she was in the habit of preparing her vegetarian meals in the car.
The trial resumes at 10 a.m. today in the Contra Costa County court house.
On the surface, the differences between Bernadette Protti and Kirsten Costas were superficial. They both lived in a well-to-do area of Northern California outside Berkeley, were good students and athletes at Miramonte High School and active in their communities.
Sure, Bernadette’s family wasn’t as well-off as a lot of the kids in school, and while 15-year-old Kirsten was considered quite popular and a member of the “elite clique,” Bernadette had friends and was generally accepted by the school population.
“Bernadette was accepted and popular in her own way,” a classmate once said. “But she had this obsession with being liked. I could never understand why she thought she wasn’t.”
Underneath, however, Bernadette’s inferiority complex was slowly and surely taking over her psyche. She began to displace her feelings by blaming Kirsten, who was described by friends as “pretty” and “vibrant,” for her own sense of inadequacy. Eventually, this instability would cause her to lash out at the person she felt responsible for her failures. In Bernadette’s twisted mind, there was only one way to improve her sense of self-worth and that was by removing the physical manifestation of her pain — Kirsten Costas.
It isn’t possible to fix a time when Bernadette’s complex took over and dictated her homicidal impulses. There were a series of events which led up to Kirsten’s murder, and just which was the final straw is unknown and irrelevant.
Both Kirsten and Bernadette belonged to a high-school service organization known as the Bob-o-Links or the “Bobbies” which resembled a sorority. As their sophomore school year ended, the girls both tried out for the varsity cheerleading squad. Kirsten made it; Bernadette did not.
“I didn’t make it and I can’t believe it,” she told a friend.
Bernadette suffered another setback when she was rejected for membership in the Atlantis Club, another exclusive organization and was not selected to work on the school’s yearbook.
Kirsten became the expression of Bernadette’s “failure” and the insecure 15-year-old fixated on a passing remark Kirsten made to her on a ski trip earlier in the year.
“She never liked me. The thing that got me mad was that it hurt,” Bernadette told police after she was arrested for killing Kirsten. “She just said stuff that made me feel bad.”
The girls were skiing and Bernadette, the daughter of a retired public servant, was using “this really crummy pair of skis and some boots. I was having fun anyway, and she made some comment about them.”
The remark by the girl whose wealthy father was able to provide his only daughter with the best equipment stung Bernadette and provides some insight into how her mind was working.
“It just seemed like everybody else was thinking that, but she was the only one who would ever come out and say that.”
On June 22, 1984, while Kirsten was at a cheerleading camp, a young woman called her home and spoke with Kirsten’s mother. The girl told Berit Costas that Kirsten was invited to a secret Bob-o-Links initiation dinner the next night. When Kirsten returned home the next day, she was told of the dinner and made plans to attend.
On the night of June 23, the other members of the Costas family prepared to head to the baseball game where Kirsten’s brother was playing. Berit Costas told her daughter to enjoy herself at the dinner and to remember to turn on the porch light.
The Costases would never see Kirsten alive again.
Around the same time, 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. She picked up Kirsten and told her that the Bob-o-Links dinner was simply a rouse for Kirsten’s parents. In fact, they had been invited to an unsupervised party.
According to Bernadette’s confession to police, Kirsten agreed to go to the party, but wanted to stop off at a nearby hangout to smoke some pot. Kirsten’s parents, when they heard Bernadette’s taped confession, strongly disputed the allegation that their daughter was even a casual drug user.
Bernadette, however, said she didn’t want to smoke.
“We just talked, you know, argued, not argued really, but she didn’t think it was any big deal, and I just didn’t want to,” Bernadette told police. “She thought I was just being weird.”
According to Bernadette, Kirsten stormed out of the car and headed to a nearby home where she told the homeowners, family friends, that she had been with a friend at the church who had “gone weird.” Kirsten’s actions tend to confirm her parents’ contention that their daughter was not a drug user. After all, if the girls were heading to a party, why wouldn’t Kirsten simply wait until she got there to light up if Bernadette was unwilling?
Regardless, Kirsten accepted a ride home after she could not contact her parents. On the stand during Bernadette’s trial, the friend testified that Kirsten was visibly upset but not frightened.
On the way home, the man noticed that a light-colored Pinto appeared to be following them. Kirsten assured him that it was no big deal. Arriving at the Costas’s home, Kirsten told the man that her family was out, and that instead she was going next door. He watched her cross the lawn. While doing this, he caught a glimpse of a female figure pass by his car in pursuit of Kirsten.
While Kirsten was on the porch of the neighbor’s house, Bernadette attacked her with a large knife she found in the Pinto. She stabbed Kirsten five times, two foot-long gashes in her back and two to Kirsten’s front, including a 15-inch slashing wound that penetrated her left arm, chest and left lung. The remaining wound was a defensive wound on Kirsten’s right arm.
The wounds to Kirsten’s back punctured her right lung, passed through her diaphragm, and lacerated her liver.
Screaming for help (one witness described it as “a blood-curdling yell”), Kirsten staggered to her feet and ran across the road while Bernadette fled in the Pinto.
“‘Help me, help me, I’ve been stabbed,’” a witness reported that Kirsten said. “She was in shock. I tried to hold her hand and pray a little on the side.”
The Costas family returned home shortly after the attack only to find their normally quiet street abuzz with police and an ambulance. They saw Kirsten being loaded into the ambulance and they followed it to a nearby hospital.
The popular cheerleader, however, was mortally wounded and died at 11:02 p.m.
Not far away and an hour before Kirsten died, Bernadette arrived home and took a nice walk with her mother. Nothing seemed amiss.
Bernadette was one of many students who attended Kirsten’s funeral and over the course of the summer took classes to prepare for her confirmation in her church.
“I was really good at blocking it out of my mind, and I still am,” she told police. “That’s why I can live through every day, because it doesn’t seem real.”
To police it was very real and they began a massive investigation of the tragedy. They had just two leads: “the female figure” and the light-colored Pinto. They conducted more than 300 interviews — including four with Bernadette — tracked down around 1,000 leads and examined 750 Ford Pintos (include the Protti’s car).
To police she was a likely suspect, but to her friends she was seemingly incapable of such a violent, blitz-type attack.
“I knew she had the Pinto, but she was the last person you’d think of,” a friend said. “She seemed as upset about the murder as everybody else.”
After making little progress, the local police contacted the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit for assistance to create a psychological work up of the killer. Known colloquially as “profiling,” the process is technically “criminal investigative analysis.”
There are two types of profiling according to noted criminologist Brent Turvey, who labels them inductive and deductive profiling.
An Inductive Criminal Profile is one that is generalized to an individual criminal from initial behavioral and demographic characteristics shared by other criminals who have been studied in the past. It is the product of incomplete, statistical analysis and generalization (very often without comparison to norms), hence the descriptor Inductive.
The Deductive Criminal Profiling model…is: “The process of interpreting forensic evidence, including such inputs as crime scene photographs, autopsy reports, autopsy photographs, and a thorough study of individual offender victimology, to accurately reconstruct specific offender crime scene behavior patterns, and from those specific, individual patterns of behavior, deduce offender characteristics, demographics, emotions, and motivations.” (Turvey, 1998)
Using the profile, investigators narrowed their suspect list to one person: Bernadette Protti (”It sounds just like me,” she told the FBI agent).
Bernadette was brought in for more questioning and agreed to a polygraph exam. She failed parts of it, while other parts were inconclusive. Police still lacked sufficient evidence and Bernadette returned home.
Her conscience began to weigh heavily on her and she put her thoughts down in her journal:
“I have caused a lot of hurt and pain to a lot of people. I don’t want to hurt people anymore. I want to go to heaven when I die. I regret what I did. I can’t bring Kirsten back or change time. If I kill myself, I will hurt people even more (my family).”
She considered whether to commit suicide but her religious upbringing prevented this.
“I would go to hell if I killed myself.”
On December 10, 1984, before school, Bernadette penned a note to her mother and father that clearly shows the anguish she was feeling. Bernadette left the note where her mother would find it after she left.
Dear Mom and Dad:
I have been trying to tell you this all day but I love you so much it’s too hard so I’m taking the easy way out. … The FBI man … thinks I did it. And he is right. … I’ve been able to live with it, but I can’t ignore it, it’s too much for me and I can’t be that deceiving. Please still love me. I can’t live unless you love me. I’ve ruined my life and yours and I don’t know what to do and I’m ashamed and scared.
P.S. Please don’t say how could you or why because I don ‘t understand this and I don’t know why.
An anguished Elaine Protti picked up her daughter at school and called Raymond.
“I wanted a last chance with my daughter,” she testified. “I wanted not so much to talk to her but to be with her.”
At the sheriff’s office, Bernadette made a full confession.
Because she was 15 years old at the time of the offense, California law required that Bernadette be tried as a juvenile. She never disputed the crime, but only argued that the mens rea justified a second-degree murder charge.
In 1986, she was convicted and sentenced to the maximum term: nine years in the custody of the California Youth Authority.
“My heart is empty. I ache. I’m half a person,” Berit Costas testified at Bernadette’s sentencing hearing. “She probably will be given her freedom in a few years. I ask the people of California, is this justice?”
Bernadette was paroled when she was 23 and when she was released from supervision at 25, moved out of state with her family. The Costas family also left California.
The cheerleader murder
by Carol Pogash
A popular and pretty cheerleader, Kirsten Costas, was dead, and sheriff’s deputies were searching for the girl who stabbed her.
The day after the murder in June 1984, rumors had already spread at the tennis courts, down oak-shaded lanes and at poolside. Some claimed it was am act of Satanism or a PCP-induced killing. No one wanted to believe that the killer came from Orinda, the lush Northern California suburb where Kirsten lived
The affluent residents of Orinda cite good schools and a crime-free environment as the main reasons they moved to the town. Orinda, with a population of about 17,500, lies just thirty-three minutes from downtown San Francisco by Bay Area Rapid Transit. Commuting time shrinks to twenty-five minutes in a BMW, the most popular car at Miramonte High School, where students’ scores are consistently among the highest on California’s state achievement tests. With a median household income of $60,000, the area’s families are not upwardly mobile — living in Orinda certifies that they have already arrived.
About seventeen years ago, Arthur and Berit Costas moved from Oakiand to Orinda seeking a beautiful, safe community with good schools. Attractive and hard-working, they fit easily into their new neighborhood.
The Costases raised two children: Kirsten and her younger brother, Peter. Art became an executive with the 3M Corporation and Berit stayed home, looking after the kids and the house. The family became active members of the Meadow Swim and Tennis Club, just a stone’s throw from their home.
Although the Costases are quiet, their fifteen-year-old daughter was not. “Kirsten was the energy of the house,” says her mother. “She was always listening to music, making phone calls, dancing. She was full of life. We are simple people. She was raring to go, ready to start to live her life when it was snuffed out.”
Everything about her had flair. “She was cute, not beautiful,” says Sue Morrow, a family friend, “an all-American girl. More like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model than a Playboy type.”
While she lacked the blond good looks of many of her friends, she had beautiful olive skin, and when she pulled her curly hair brown with golden highlights — back from her forehead, her mother thought Kirsten looked like a Vogue model.
Kirsten, who had just finished her sophomore year at Miramonte, had started to change social circles back in junior high, recalls her good friend Diane MacDonald. By the time she reached Miramonte, Kirsten was in the clique that counted — “the loud crowd,” some kids called it. Wherever the group went, they were noticed.
“We used to say Kirsten had everything,” says one classmate. “She was skinny. She sometimes wore tie-dyed socks, what people are wearing now.” Another recalls, “I remember watching her after she made cheerleader. Everyone wanted to be like her.”
In the spring of 1984, Kirsten had been asked to join the Bob-o-links, or Bobbies, an elite sorority-like organization of thirty to thirty-five of the best looking, most popular girls in school. In addition to joining the Bobbies, Kirsten was a member of the varsity swim team.
But most important to Kirsten was becoming a cheerleader. She practiced constantly at home in the family room and sometimes at Diane MacDonald’s house, in front of the windows at night, to see her reflection.
Cheerleading, her friend Jessica Grant explains, “is taken really seriously.” Before trying out, applicants write essays explaining what they could add to the school. Parents sign an agreement to spend $500 to pay for green and white uniforms and cheerleading camp. Girls are graded by twenty judges, and are told their fate at an Academy Awards-type ceremony where outgoing cheerleaders pluck names from envelopes, giving the winners kisses and flowers. Kirsten was one of the winners. She was, says one of the judges, “a perfect cheerleader.”
Kirsten was attending cheerleading camp, living in a dorm at St Mary’s College in nearby Moraga, when Berit Costas received a seemingly uneventful call on Thursday, June 21, 1984. The caller identified herself as a Bobbie and told Berit she knew Kirsten was away until the weekend, but asked if she would be able to attend an initiation dinner for new Bobbies that Saturday night. When Berit said yes, the caller replied that someone would pick Kirsten up by car and that no one else should know of the plans.
That Saturday evening, Kirsten’s parents and brother left to attend a potluck dinner for Peter’s Little League team. When a car honked outside the house on Orchard Road around eight-thirty, Kirsten left the TV on, walked out to a mustard-colored Pinto and got in.
A little over an hour later, an agitated Kirsten rang the bell at a stranger’s door. Alexander and Mary Jane Arnold, who live in Moraga, had been playing cribbage with neighbors. When they opened the door, they saw Kirsten and, behind her, another girl, who looked about fifteen, “lurking out the path.”
Kirsten, who appeared tense but not terrified, said, “My friend got weird on me.” She asked to call home. When no one there answered the phone, Alexander Arnold offered to drive her back to a neighbor’s house in Orinda. As they drove, Kirsten seemed unconcerned when Arnold saw the mustard-colored Pinto tailing them. When the car pulled up to Kirsten’s neighbor’s house, Kirsten assured Arnold she would be all right. Then she got out.
In the meantime, the girl driving the Pinto had quickly parked and slid out of her own car. As Kirsten walked away from Arnold’s car, the other girl swooped out from behind a tall hedge and ran forward with her arm raised. Arnold saw a flash from a metal blade about one-and-a-half feet long. Kirsten fell and sprang up again. Though mortally wounded, she ran to Arthur Hillman’s house across the street for help.
Her killer, whom Arnold and other witnesses later described as a round-faced blonde wearing a yellow shirt and faded red sweatpants, sped away in the Pinto. Arnold followed her for about a quarter of a mile before grving up the chase.
Kirsten’s bloodcurdling screams resounded through the house, where Hillman, his wife and their two sons were spending a quiet evening. Arthur Hillman saw Kirsten staggering toward him, screaming, “Help me. Help me. I’ve been stabbed.” She collapsed in his arms. He tore open her blouse and tried to stop the bleeding from five stab wounds, but blood was spurting, gushing out. “I asked, ‘What happened? Who did it?’”
The girl he had known from infancy did not answer. She gasped that she was having trouble breathing. Hillman tilted Kirsten’s neck back and tried to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He had done all he could when the paramedics, called by one of his sons, arrived. Kirsten was pronounced dead in an hour.
Ambulances and sheriff’s squad cars clogged Orchard Road. Floodlights illuminated the houses on the normally quiet corner as Kirsten’s parents and brother drove over the last ridge in the street on their way home from dinner. Art Costas jumped out of the car in the middle of the street, while Berit stayed inside, terrified.
It was after 2 am before Berit could be questioned by sheriff’s deputies. Captain Stanley Garvin, head ofinvestigations for the Contra Costa County sheriff’s department, remembers his men saying the case would be wrapped up by dawn.
But the investigators were wrong; no arrests were made. As Kirsten’s somber classmates and parents attended her funeral five days later, the rumor spread from one pew to another that the killer had come to mourn. Worried parents ordered their teenage daughters to travel in pairs or trios.
Soon, the community began collecting a reward fund totaling more than $50,000. Bobbies and other friends of Kirsten posted signs with a description of the crime and killer in almost every Orinda storefront. Still no arrest was made. In Hawaii, where the seniors had been enjoying a class outing, the name of a suspect had begun to circulate. The same name was mentioned by concerned parents gathered at the airport to welcome the graduates home. Slowly a consensus was forming. The suspect was one of Kirsten’s classmates, Heather Crane (not her real name).
Once, Heather had been a preppie. She went out with a soccer player and had been a member of the little social circles in the quad at lunch. She had fit in, but now she acted in a way that set her apart from others in school. When she was invited to join the Bobbies, she tuned them down. She slipped out of the preppie mode, dyed the top of her dark hair blond and dressed in an expensive, punk style. She said later that other kids “kind of resented it.” By unspoken agreement, she and the school’s popular kids quit saying hello to one another in the halls.
The whole town of Orinda seemed to want me to feel bad because I had dyed my hair and I was not part of the social scene,” Heather later wrote in a class essay. “This is what I was guilty of in reality… I was guilty of being myself but I will not change.”
Even people who weren’t close to either girl said that Heather had hated Kirsten for her elitism and once in biology class said, “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to kill you.” Heather says the incident never happened.
Three days after Kirsten was killed, sheriffs investigators told Heather her classmates were accusing her of murder. Heather had an alibi — she had been with a boyfriend at his house, and his mother had been there part of the evening. But Heather’s mother refused to let her daughter submit to a lie detector test.
Rumors about Heather grew steadily. The Cranes began receiving calls in the middle of every night. “Everyone thought they knew who did it,” recalls Garvin. Everyone but the sheriffs department. They had a long list of suspects.
One of those on the list was Bernadette Protti. Like most of the girls from Orinda, she fit the description of the suspect. She was also a new member of the Bobbies, and her father, Raymond, owned a Pinto. Like Kirsten, Bernadette had spent part of the spring practicing her cheers. But she was not chosen for the Miramonte squad. She was one of the losers, and in her eyes, this proved that she was an unpopular failure.
“She had this obsession about being accepted, even though she was accepted,” says Cathy Simon (not her real name), a close friend. “I’ve seen her when she would do drugs just to try to be someone’s friend. She was constantly changing. She was popular — in her own way. Kirsten was in what they call the elite group. Bernadette was popular, but not with that group. She idolized Kirsten."
Bernadette knew other failures. Her best friend had been invited to join Ailanthus, the other sorority-like group in school, but Bernadette had not. For her, joining the Bobbies was second-best. And when she failed to make the yearbook staff, “her whole world fell apart,” Jessica Grant recalls. She pleaded with the dean to reconsider her, and she broke down in tears to her friends.
“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.”
The youngest of six children in a religious Catholic family, she complained that her parents were “so old,” and that her father, a retired engineer for the city of San Francisco, never listened to her. 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.
Investigators interviewed Bernadette and listened to her alibi — she said she had been baby-sitting for the Weems family down the road. They didn’t bother to check out her story then because Bernadette agreed to take a lie-detector test. When she passed, she was cleared as a suspect.
As time went on without an arrest, accusations increased against unconventional Heather Crane. It was said that Heather’s boyfriend had access to a gold-colored Pinto (he didn’t) and that the Cranes were moving to England to avoid prosecution. Many of the kids believed the story that Heather was part of a satanic cult. The teenager had become a pariah in her own town, shunned by everyone. In September, Heather transferred to another school.
Accusations and speculations continued throughout the summer, but still no arrests were made. Concerned by the pace of the sheriffs investigation and desperate to find out who had murdered their daughter, the Costases hired a private detective with a small portion of the reward money raised by the town. The private eye, Elliott Friedman, suspected that it had been a drug-induced killing or that the killer had harbored a lesbian desire for Kirsten. In Orinda, a girl with homosexual tendencies “could have a big brand on her forehead,” he said. The motive, he suspected, was fear of humiliation.
Meanwhile, Friedman rechecked the alibis of the most likely suspects, including Bernadette. She had claimed she was baby-sitting that night for the Weems family, but Johanna Weems said she had not asked Bernadette to babysit in a year. When Friedman told detectives that Bernadette had been lying, he was informed she had passed the polygraph test. “It’s wrong,” he retorted. Garvin won’t talk about the incident, but Friedman says deputies had the polygraph reread, this time by the FBI. When it came back, it was clear Bernadette Protti had been lying.
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.” She asked Hilley if he had ever considered that a sixteen-year-old girl might be more afraid of publicity than of going to prison. Bernadette then said she wanted to go home and think, and Hilley agreed. Without a confession, authorities did not have enough evidence to arrest her.
That night, Bernadette told her mother they needed to talk, but Elaine Protti said she was tired. The following morning, a cold, blustery day, Bernadette gave her mothei a letter and asked her not to open it for half an hour. Elaine, who was studying the Bible, set her kitchen timer and resumed reading. Bernadette went to school.
When the time was up, Elaine Protti read her daughter’s confession. “I can’t bring her back, but I’m sorry. I’ve been able to live with it for a while but I can’t ignore it… I’m even worse than words can describe and I hate myself .” In a P.S., she wrote, “Please don’t say how could you or why because I don’t understand this and I don’t know why. I need so much help and love. I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.”
Elaine called the school, and she and her husband brought their daughter to the sheriffs office in nearby Martinez. Bernadette gave a ninety-minute confession, taped by sheriffs deputies.
The news flew through the town. Everyone knew the killer had been apprehended, but no one knew who it was. On December 11, nearly every girl attending Miramonte, even those with the flu, showed up. No one wanted an absence to be confused with an arrest. The only person missing from the morning Latin class was Bernadette. The day after the arrest, the sheriff called a well-attended press conference. His team had put in 4,000 man-hours, followed 1,000 leads, interviewed 800 people, and checked out 750 Pintos, the sheriff told the press, as he and other investigators stood for photographers and reporters.
Three months later, residents of Orinda packed a local courtroom for her trial. At the start of the proceeding, Bernadette sat facing forward, her mouth slack, her eyes unfocused. But when Berit Costas walked away from the witness stand, slowing her gait as she passed by Bernadette, the defendant turned away and never looked straight ahead again.
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?” Her fears of Miramonte were greater. She knew what the students there would do to her. “I can’t live if it is known. I would rather die.”
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 said that Kirsten, “Just sort of put me down… I remembered one time on the ski trip we were on together. I mean, we don’t have a lot of money and we can’t afford a lot of nice ski stuff and I just had this really crummy pair of skis and some boots, but, you know, I was having fun anyway. Kirsten made some comment about them, and it just seemed like everyone else was thinking that, but she was the only one who would come out and say it.”
Bernadette admitted she had made the phone call setting up a meeting with Kirsten. She had just wanted to befriend her classmate and take her to a party, she said. When Kirsten approached the Pinto she looked inside and said blandly, “Oh, it’s you.”
Bernadette said Kirsten wanted to smoke pot first, a claim that drew cries of disbelief from Kirsten’s parents and friends. “She made it sound like this was a drug-related murder, and it wasn’t,” says Berit Costas. While not saying that her daughter had never tried marijuana, Berit insisted that Kirsten did not have her own supply.
Still, Bernadette said in her confession that she and Kirsten drove to the church parking lot to smoke the pot, but when Bernadette refused, an argument foliowed. Kirsten ran from the car and Bernadette pursued her. She claimed she followed in the Pinto only to make sure Kirsten got home safely. But as she drove, she became frightened about how Kirsten might describe the evening to the other girls at school.
By the time Kirsten left Alexander Arnold’s car at her neighbor’s house, Bernadette’s fear had turned to anger. She said she used a knife she found in the Pinto to stab Kirsten to death. (Bernadette’s sister, Virginia, a bank examiner who took the witness stand, said she left foot-and-a-half-long knives in the car to slice tomatoes at lunchtime.)
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. Several spectators at the trial were moved by the ninety-minute confession. A few cried. One reporter wrote that by the end of the tape, even Berit Costas’s head was bowed. The reporter had misunderstood. Kirsten’s mother was trying not to get sick.
The murder of her daughter, Berit says, “was premeditated from the moment of the phone call. [Bernadette] had plenty of time to change her mind.” The Costases charged that Bernadette’s confession was riddled with lies — that no one would use an eighteen-inch knife to cut a tomato and that Bernadette, casually dressed, never planned on taking Kirsten to a party.
On the afternoon of the third day of the trial, Judge Edward Merill found Bernadette Protti guilty of second-degree murder. On April 1, the first hot day of spring, while kids throughout Orinda were signing up for Meadow Pool’s summer swim team, Bernadette Protti was sentenced. She was committed to the the California Youth Authority. She can serve no less than one year and no more than nine — until she reaches the age of twenty-five. According to her attorney, Charles James, juveniles convicted of murder in California serve an average of four to six years.
There have been several changes in Orinda since Bernadette’s arrest. For one, some of Heather Crane’s former classmates have started speaking to Heather again. “I think a lot of people feel bad,” says one junior, referring to the rumors implicating Heather. “What can you do? You can’t make up for six months of hell.”
For the students, the killing and its aftermath have left bitter feelings. Many say they can’t trust anyone anymore, not after what Bernadette did.
And, they realized, the problem didn’t lie only with Bernadette.
“People can get really nasty at this school,” says one junior, standing with a group of classmates on the lawn surrounding Miramonte. “Everyone says this school is so boring, so they start doing things for entertainment. They start being cruel. Everyone wants to be the best. It’s so competitive.”
“It’s a circle,” says another. She calls to classmates to ask who made pompom girl and cheerleader. “Kelly, Karin and Brooke,” her friends shout.
“That’s so hot,” the girl says, and heads home.
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images
DMX performs live on stage for the Ruff Ryder's Reunion Tour 2017 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 21, 2017 in New York City.
On Thursday (Jan. 24), Vulture received word from DMX's attorney that X would be released from prison Friday (Jan. 25). This morning, TMZ reported that the 48-year-old walked out of the Gilmer Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia as a free man. The Yonkers-bred MC had been locked up since January of last year, carrying out a one-year sentence behind bars for federal tax evasion charges.
DMX, born Earl Simmons, will now have to pay back a court ordered $2.3 million in restitution to the government. He will be afforded the opportunity to make payments based on his gross monthly income. X reportedly has been fielding offers for a possible biopic and also wants to release a new album, which would be his first project since 2012.
The "Slippin'" artist is expected to be under supervised release for the next three years. X's lawyer, Murray Richman, says his client has remained in high spirits throughout the process. "I spoke to him; he’s very happy. He’s looking forward to being home," Richman told Vulture. "He’s never been hotter than now -- people have been seeking him out all over. He’s terrific; he’s been terrific."
I have known Clarissa for several years mostly through social engagements and through a mutual friend. We dated a couple of times. When I first met Clarissa I found her to be charming , kind and somewhat alluring. When she smiles she can light up a room. At first she appeared to be quite self confident and very self conscious of her looks. Most women do! She is engaging and makes people feel comfortable and keeps her attention on her man. Yet I found as I got to know her more she tended to become possessive. One thing of note. Clarissa tries to overly impress people especially if other women are present. When she is not drinking her best qualities come out- kindness, caring, gentleness all great qualities in a woman. When she drinks alcohol her personality changes and unfortunately for her when in excess she lets down her guard and at times I have seen her become belligerent and nasty with others especially if there is a disagreement.
I find Clarissa is constantly looking for affirmation that she is the most beautiful woman on earth and she wants to desired by men. Sometimes she mistakes making love and sex as a means of attracting a suitable mate. The truth is it is important to find out what qualities she is looking in a man first. Men- and I am one, know the difference between a woman who is willing to provide sex easily and one who stands their ground on the principle of getting to know the man first. In my case the signal was loud and clear. Claire was quite prepared to have sex the first night without really knowing the man she was with. For a man this sends a clear message- easy pickings. No commitment just satisfaction. I admit this is selfishness on the man’s part plan and simply – gratification.
If I were to give Clarissa advise from a man’s point of view on finding a serious gentleman, someone to be loving and caring and committed , it is this. Love yourself; stop comparing yourself to other women; treat yourself and others with respect; stay away from places where cougars hide out and only drink in moderation. Show people your goodness. Stand up for your beliefs and principles. Show people empathy. And don’t worry or fret if some man rejects you because you did not put out.
Clarissa, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You are beautiful in many ways but show a man your inner beauty before showing him your outer beauty. Then you will have a good chance of winning him over
Johnnie Lee McKnight was found guilty in the murders of a teen mom and her unborn son.14TH CIRCUIT SOLICITOR'S OFFICE
HAMPTON COUNTY, SC
A South Carolina man who killed a 16-year-old girl and their unborn child in a drive-by shooting will spend the rest of his life in prison for their murders, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
A jury found Johnnie Lee McKnight, 39, of Barnwell County, guilty on two counts of murder for the 2017 drive-by shooting that killed 16-year-old Alydia Ling and their unborn son, according to a release Wednesday from the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
After the two-day trial, Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen handed McKnight two life sentences — one for each of the murders —along with an additional 30 years for each of the attempted murders, 10 years for discharging a firearm into a dwelling and five years for possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
“This crime is simply tragic and beyond outrageous,” said prosecutor Hunter Swanson. “Johnnie Lee McKnight’s ego stoked this toxic relationship with a girl 22 years younger than him, and it ultimately caused her death and the death of her son.”
Ling was walking on the sidewalk outside her Estill home the night of Aug. 31, 2017, when McKnight drove up and told her to get into his car, prosecutors said. Ling’s brother was on the porch of their home and told her not to go with McKnight but to go inside. Her brother and McKnight argued before McKnight sped away.
When McKnight reached the end of the block, he turned around and returned to the home, shouting from his car, prosecutors said. He then pointed a rifle out of the driver’s side window and unleashed a spray of gunfire on the home.
Ling’s brother, who is a security guard and a concealed-weapons permit holder, returned fire with his 9-mm handgun, prosecutors said. However, a shot from McKnight’s rifle hit the teen mother in the neck as she stood in the doorway with her mother, and she died at the scene. A friend of Ling’s was also in the home at the time.
She was three weeks from her expected due date.
McKnight was located the next day, and police later found the Honda Accord he drove during the shooting, according to the solicitor’s office. The rifle used in the murders was never found, but prosecutors said gunshot residue tests on the Honda indicated a gun was fired from the car, and clothes from the truck McKnight was driving when he was arrested contained gunshot residue and McKnight’s DNA.
A DNA test also confirmed that McKnight was the father of Ling’s unborn son, prosecutors said.
Accused Tarpon Springs murderer Shelby Nealy has finally arrived in Pinellas County after a two week extradition. (Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Accused Tarpon Springs murderer Shelby Nealy has finally arrived in Pinellas County after a two week extradition.
Nealy made his first court appearance Sunday morning. He is being held in jail without bond and is facing three counts of first degree murder and three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, plus a grand theft motor vehicle charge.
The bodies of her parents and brother were found at their Tarpon Springs home on January 1. Ivancic's body was found a week later buried behind a home in Pasco County that she used to rent with Nealy. Police believe Nealy killed his wife over a year ago.
Nealy was arrested in Ohio a few days after the three bodies were found at a Tarpon Springs home.
Detectives said he admitted to killing his wife, using her phone to keep in contact with her parents, then driving to Tarpon Springs to kill them after they started to get suspicious because they hadn't heard her voice in so long.
New details reveal that Nealy killed his in-laws and brother-in-law separately with the same hammer.
According to court documents, Richard and Laura were killed December 15 and Nicholas was killed on December 16.
Detectives said Nealy killed Richard first when they were home alone, and after Laura got home, he killed her, then wrapped their bodies in rugs and put them in the bedroom.
Detectives said Nicholas arrived home later in the evening and was napping on the couch when Nealy killed him with the same hammer and covered his body with a painter's drop cloth.
Detectives said Nealy planned to return at a later time to dispose of their bodies.
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He was picked up from an Ohio jail on January 18 to be brought to the Pinellas County Jail. Nealy arrived at the Pinellas County Jail at about 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 2.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says they hired an independent contractor to transport Nealy and that it's not unusual for it to take weeks to extradite a prisoner.
“The Sheriff is responsible for transporting and extraditing prisoners back to Pinellas County. It is more cost effective to utilize an independent contractor who can transport multiple prisoners for multiple agencies at the same time rather than sending our deputies to transport one prisoner back to Pinellas.”
Initially, Charisse Stinson was not going to be in court. However, the judge in the case instructed her attorney that he wanted her in the court. (Pinellas County jail)
Initially, Charisse Stinson was not going to be in court. However, the judge in the case instructed her attorney that he wanted her in court.
The hearing was delayed while officials went to get Stinson and bring her to the courtroom.
When she did appear, the judge told her he wanted to see her face to face before they move forward.
A pre-trial date was scheduled for March 18.
Stinson, 21, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her son Jordan Belliveau. The boy was found dead in a wooded area of Largo Sept. 4, 2018.
Belliveau was the subject of an Amber Alert for several days.
During that time, Stinson told investigators that she and her son were walking from their home on the evening of Sept. 1, when she accepted a ride from a stranger. She claimed that the man, named Antwan, attacked her and beat her unconscious. When she woke up in Largo Central Park, Jordan was gone, she said.
Stinson remains in jail without bond on murder charges.
Monday's hearing was the first for Stinson since she gave birth to a baby girl in December. She was six months pregnant when arrested after Jordan's death.
Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg couple that was briefly Jordan's foster parents are caring for the baby girl. They are planning to adopt her.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa police have arrested an 18-year-old man and charged him in the shooting of another man Wednesday evening.
The victim, a man in his 40s, was shot in the head. The shooting occurred occurred near Busch Boulevard and N. 16th Street.
Investigators said a couple driving in a truck on Busch Boulevard were shot at, possibly by someone in another vehicle. The driver of the truck was struck in the head by gunfire.
Steven Saviras Williams was arrested and charged in the shooting. (Hillsborough County Jail)
The victim was transported to Florida Hospital for life-threatening injuries.
On Thursday, police arrested Steven Saviras Williams and charged him with discharging a firearm from a vehicle.
Police have not released any further information.
A screenshot showing Gucci's black turtleneck sweater before the luxury brand pulled it from its online and physical stores. Gucci apologized following complaints the garment resembled "blackface."
Luxury brand Gucci has removed a sweater from store shelves and from its web site following complaints about the garment's resemblance to blackface.
The black sweater, featuring a roll-up collar that covers the lower face with a wide red lip outline around the mouth, was part of Gucci's Fall Winter 2018 line.
"Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper," the company said in a statement late Wednesday. "We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make."
But reaction to the sweater, which had retailed for $890, ranged from deep offense to incredulity that it had been deemed acceptable to begin with, even as some defended it.
"What's going on here @Gucci this is blatant Disrespect #Blackface," posted Twitter user identified as King James shortly before Gucci tweeted its apology.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary pointed out the irony of the timing: February is Black History Month. "We have ONE month to celebrate the history of African Americans," she tweeted. "We are a nation desperately in need of diversity training."
The Italian fashion house said going forward it would work to increase diversity and work on "turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."
The uproar coincides with another controversy threatening Virginia's political leadership. Gov. Ralph Northam has been resisting calls to resign after a racist photograph emerged last week of a person in blackface next to another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood that appeared on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Northam initially apologized for appearing in the picture, then denied it was him. In a news conference, he admitted to having darkened his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume in a separate incident around the same time.
Less than a week later, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a fellow Democrat, admitted to having put on "brown makeup" in 1980 in depiction of rapper Kurtis Blow. In a statement Herring wrote that "the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades."
The shame of face darkening in association with the caricature of black people is part of American history going back centuries.
"We first started seeing blackface in the early 1800s," NPR's Gene Demby reported in October. "It becomes central to minstrel shows in which white people would dress up like black people by darkening their skin with polish and with cork. And of course these minstrel shows depicted black people as lazy, as animalistic."
Demby reports that the caricature was part of the "dehumanization that allowed slavery to happen." But despite the long history of blackface Demby reports "so many of us have so much historical illiteracy about its badness."
Some Twitter users defended the Gucci sweater, denying it resembled blackface. "It's a tacky look, but it's NOT blackface," tweeted Julie K. Nix.
Others indicated the backlash was about people being overly sensitive. "The only offensive thing about this is the price ($890)," posted Twitter user Paul Joseph Watson. "I suppose balaclavas are all racist now too. BAN EVERYTHING."
Gucci is far from the first apparel brand to retreat, admitting to missteps following accusations of racist products.
In January of 2018, H&M apologized for featuring a black child on its web site donning a sweatshirt featuring the words, "COOLEST MONKEY IN THE JUNGLE."
And in December, Prada first denied that a line of accessories had "any reference" to blackface, but following increased protests that the Pradamalia products resembled the Little Black Sambo character, the company decided to yank them.
"Step away from blackface," tweeted Nina Turner, a onetime Ohio state senator after the Gucci incident. "It was racist and dehumanizing in the late 19th century and it is still racist today &forever more."
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