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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Jovan Belcher Murder-Suicide Case

     Jovan Belcher grew up on Long Island, New York where at West Babylon High School he starred in wrestling and football. In 2009, after graduating from the University of Maine, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. By 2012, the 6-foot-2, 228 pound former special teams player had made the starting line-up as a linebacker.

     In late October 2012, about six weeks after Belcher's live-in girlfriend Kasandra Perkins gave birth to their daughter, the 22-year-old mother moved out of the split-level house she had shared with the 25-year-old Belcher in southeast Kansas City. The former student at Kansas City's Blue River Campus of the Metropolitan Community College, took up residence in Austin, Texas with her cousin who was married to a Kansas City Chief's player named Jamaal Charles. Perkins and Belcher had been arguing, and there were indications that he had been depressed and under stress.

     Just before Thanksgiving, Perkins and the three-month-old baby returned to Kansas City where they resumed living in the quiet, middle-class residential neighborhood with the football player and his mother, Cheryl Shepherd. At 7:50 Saturday morning, December 1, 2012, Jovan Belcher's mother called 911 to report a shooting. The police arrived to find that Jovan had shot Kasandra Perkins several times with a handgun. (She died a short time later in the hospital. The baby had been in another room.) After the murder, Jovan left the house in his black Bentley en route to the Arrowhead Stadium complex five miles away.

     The football team's general manager Scott Pioli, his head coach Romeo Crennel, and an assistant had just walked out of the practice facility when Belcher drove onto the parking lot and climbed out of his car. The distraught football player walked up to the three men, and while holding a handgun to his temple, thanked them for all they had done for him. Jovan then turned his back on the general manager and the two coaches and shot himself once in the head. He killed himself as police cars rolled up to the scene.

     The Jovan Belcher case made a big splash in the media because it featured two subjects of great interest to the public--violent crime and sports. And there were other elements in the tragedy that made it particularly newsworthy. For example, gun control advocates and sports pundit Bob Costas cited the case as an example of American's gun culture. (The handgun Belcher used on Perkins and himself had been purchased legally.)

     If it turned out that this NFL player had been taking performance-enhancing drugs, or had been hooked on meth, bath salts, or cocaine, the media focus on the murder-suicide would also include America's drug culture. There was also the issue of how brutal the game of football had become, and the physiological effects of this violence on its participants. Over the past few years, scientists and medical researchers have found a link between routine hits to the head and brain disease, memory loss, dementia, and depression. The suicide of Junior Seau, the former San Diego star, brought attention to the debate over the long-term effects of football on its players.

     According to reports, Belcher, at the time of the murder-suicide, had been combining alcohol with pain-killing drugs. Moreover, he had a history of violence against women.

     

1 comment:

  1. The biggest element in this case is his celebrity. There is a little "voyerism" in all of us. We love to get a peek inside the life of the super wealthy. We love to see their homes, their cars and maybe their dysfunction. We tend to "mythologize" them as if they are Greek gods or something. This mere man was a disaster waiting to happen as the story shows. I believe there was probably a lot of people who overlooked his problems because they benefitted from his athletic gifts.

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