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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius: Girlfriend's Death Accident or Murder?

     In South Africa, 26-year-old Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee Paralympic champion and 2012 Olympics sprinter, is a hero and household name. Born without fibulas, Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday. In America, he has appeared on the cover of GQ Style magazine, and made last year's People's list of "Sexiest Man Alive." The athlete's Twitter followers number 230,000. Because he competes with carbon fiber prosthetic blades, Pistorius is known around the world as the "Blade Runner."

     In 2009, Oscar Pistorius moved into an upscale neighborhood near Pretoria with his three dogs. In his house nestled amid an enclave of dwellings surrounded by a high, razor-wire-topped wall, Pistorius kept a handgun by his bedside, a baseball bat and cricket bat behind his bedroom door, and a machine gun near a window. Over the past few years Pistorius had crashed one of his cars, his boat, and had injured himself on a dirt bike.

     In September 2009, Pistorius spent 17 hours in jail after being charged with common assault, a charge based upon a complaint filed by Cassidy Taylor-Memmory, a student at the University of Pretoria. The student accused him of slamming a door on her during a fight at his house following a party. In November 2012, he threatened to "break the legs" of a South African football (soccer) player whom he believed had slept with his then girlfriend. The director of public prosecutions decided not to go forward with the case.

     In the tradition of dashing, world-class athletes, the blade runner, in 2013, was dating a tall, blond cover-girl. Reeva Steenkamp, however, was more than just a trophy-squeeze. The 30-year-old South African face of Avon cosmetics, and recent contestant on a South African reality TV show, possessed a law degree. She was also a spokesperson on behalf of the nation's battered and raped women. Steenkamp was better educated than her boyfriend, and just as famous.

     On Thursday, February 14, 2013, Steenkamp had been scheduled to speak at a Johannesburg school. It was going to be one of those follow-your-dreams motivational talks. (When you're not smart, beautiful, or healthy, there are no dreams to follow. I'm not a fan of this "look-at-me" genre of speeches. I think they do more harm than good.) Reeva Steenkamp didn't make it to the school that day. Instead of seeing a celebrity, kids would be watching her on television news. So much for chasing your dreams.

     During the early morning hours of February 14, 2013, Pretoria police officers and paramedics responded to a report of a shooting at Oscar Pistorius' luxury house. The first responders found Reeva Steenkamp lying on the floor bleeding from several gunshot wounds. Paramedics pronounced the woman dead.

     Oscar Pistorius told the officers he had mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder. He had shot her four times through a bathroom door. Accidental killings of this nature are not uncommon in South Africa, one of the most violent and dangerous countries in the world. There were 16,766 home invasions in the nation last year.

     Because the police had been previously called to the Pistorius house on domestic violence complaints, and the overall look of the death scene, the police arrested one of People magazine's most sexy men on suspicion of murder.

     On Friday, February 15, Oscar Pistorius, after being formally charged of murder, broke down in tears as he stood before magistrate Desmond Nair. The magistrate postponed the suspect's bail hearing to give prosecutors time to make their case of premeditated murder.

     The Pistorius affair might remind some American true crime buffs of the Phil Spector murder case in southern California. While Spector wasn't a hero or household name, he had been an eccentric icon in the music business. The homicides are similar in that women were shot to death in the homes of these men in cases without third-party eyewitnesses. Spector, who claimed the dead woman had committed suicide by shooting herself in the mouth, was convicted after two trials. The Pistorius case, because it involves an internationally known athlete and a beautiful young woman at the peak of her fame, will remain in the world's headlines until it is resolved. The Spector case received little media attention outside of southern California. In all probability, the Pistorius case, like the Spector murder, will feature forensic ballistics, blood spatter interpretation evidence, and dueling criminalists.


     According to the City Press, the local Pretoria newspaper, police found a bloody cricket bat at the scene of the alleged murder. According to the paper, Steenkamp's skull had been crushed.

     Neighbors reported having heard a couple arguing in the Pistorius house at l:10 that morning. They next heard intermittent gun shots starting at 3:30 AM. Police have found steroids in the house which has prompted speculation that Pistorius killed Steenkamp in a steroid-fueled rage. It appears that the suspect's claim that he mistook his girlfriend for an intruder is out the window. Pistorius might be heading toward an insanity plea.    


  1. Found this after searching for Pistorius and Spector. The cases are very similar and this eerily reminded me a lot of the Lana Clarkson murder.

  2. I think Pistorius killed his girlfriend.