How well do you handle stress in your relationship? Disagreements between couples are a normal part of a healthy relationship but what happens when the argument becomes too unbearable to handle? What happens when arguments push the limits and go to far? For this couple who was seemingly living the perfect life a single night would change everything. While all relationships have their troubles most do not go to the brink of disaster…
In an argument between Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend Kasandra, Jovan found himself pushed over the edge into a decision he would deeply regret. As an NFL player whose job it is to be violent on the field, it his not his job to be violent off of it. But that is the situation that Jovan found himself in as his temper and rage took over. In the heat of passion in the heat of an argument so many lives can be changed so fast and so quickly…
Jovan Belcher grew up in West Babylon, New York a tony town that is about an hour and a half away from the bright lights of New York city. He was a star high school athlete playing in Suffolk County Long Isand which is where he was noticed by many college scout’s. These scouts lamented over Jovan’s natural ability on the field and ultimately recruited him to play football.
Jovan head north for college which is something many athlete’s from the Tri-State area end up attending college. He accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Maine where he would join their football team. Jovan had a stellar collegiate career and was named an All-American twice in college. In his Junior year he switched his position from linebacker to defensive end where he dominated and had his name put onto the national stage.
Belcher was a very strong player but he played at what people consider a “small-school”. Unlike many NFL prospects who play in the larger programs across the country Jovan did not have that kind of mainstream exposure. Jovan was though on the NFL radar and many teams showed much interest in him before the NFL draft. As it ended up, Jovan went un-drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft. This left a chip on his shoulder and made his desire to play in the NFL even stronger.
While his agent quickly worked to speak with teams in order to get Jovan signed after the draft not all teams were answering their phones. Jovan eventually signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs who decided to take a chance on the star athlete. The risk paid off as Jovan eventually became their starting inside linebacker in 2010. His most productive season was in 2011 and he was rewarded with a new contract by the Cheifs.
Life is Good
Jovan’s life was going very, very well both on and off the field. A star athlete in the NFL he was earning millions of dollars each year something he could never have dreamed of as a kid. Jovan also had a beautiful girlfriend to share his life with. From all accounts he was living the American Dream.
With his NFL career taking off and him becoming financially stable, Jovan and his girlfriend discussed having kids. They both wanted to start a family of their own to live in Kansas City where he played and trained. They felt Kansas City was a perfect place to raise kids and build a family and while Jovan was not from there his mom was more then happy to come out and help the young couple out at any time.
Met His Love
Kassandra Perkins was a beautiful young girl who was happy and always made everyone around her laugh and smile. She was introduced to Jovan Belcher by former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. Jamaal’s wife was a first cousin of Kassandra’s and they felt Jovan would be a great match!
Perkins was very active in the Kansas City community. She had done various volunteer work in the community and with the Chiefs. She was part of its Women’s Organization, a group of players wives and significant others who do charity work and run awareness campaigns. This work was something that fulfilled her and reflected the type of person she was – warm, loving and caring.
Jovan and Kasandra decided it was time and they wanted to have a baby and settle down. When Kassandra got pregnant she was overjoyed and finally becoming a mother. Jovan and Kassandra ended up having a beautiful baby girl who was bright and quirky and always laughed and giggled. They worked very hard to provide a home for. Jovan and his wife loved the precious gift they received.
At this point in their life and to all who knew them, they were a happy couple building a brand new family. With the birth of their baby girl it seemed as if everything was going right. Nobody could have expected or even imagined what would come next just 3 months after their baby daughter was brought into the world…
Friends stated that the couple while seemingly in love and beaming with pride of a brand new baby argued frequently. Many felt that all couples argue and that is was no big deal. Most couples argue and they both had a lot on their plate so it wasn’t unusual for them to fight and then make back up.
Many of their friends ended up missing a lot these warning signs of what was tragically to come. While the arguments were frequent in public they were even more frequent behind closed doors. Those closed door arguments the friends did not know about although Kassandra did confide in some very close friends. Since her husband was high-profile she kept a lot of it to herself.
A Cold Night
On a cold December Saturday, they decided they deserved a night off from parenting and each go out. As any parent know’s its late nights and early morning’s that are non-stop in the first year of a baby being born. The couple decided they would take a night to themselves.
It was something that all parents deserve and need, and they were ready to make the most of their one free night. While they were both excited for a free night they decided that they would each go out separately and meet up later. This decision would end up being fateful…
The Night Begins
While Jovan’s mother watched over their sleeping daughter, Jovan and Kassandra headed out on the town. Kassandra and her friends went to a Trey Songz concert at the Midland Theatre where they enjoyed the music and the atmosphere.
They each had their fun, Jovan even had a few drinks over the course of the evening. Perhaps though, they loosened up a little too much and maybe drank a bit to much. As the night wound down they would find themselves each crossing path’s in different state’s of minds then when they had left home.
Late Night Party Animals
As the night ended and reality settled in, Jovan again called home half drunkenly to check up on his daughter. He asked where Kassandra was and was told she had not come home yet which immediately threw Jovan into a blind rage. Why was she now home? Who was she with? What kind of mother does not come home?
Once he found out that his girlfriend had stayed out too late he was angry at her for her carelessness. He immediately went home to wait for Kassandra and to confront her. Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe it was past history but something was getting under Jovan’s skin and the beast was beginning to growl…
Kassandra Comes Home
At around one in the morning Kassandra returned home from the Trey Songz concert. Immediately as she walked in the door argued was confronted by a very angry Jovan. Remember Jovan is a hulking NFL player and even though that was her babies father any time a man of that size scream it is frightening.
Kassandra, not wanting to deal with Jovan and a bit startled stormed out of the house after the argument. She ended up going to the Power and Light District, an area by Midland and Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City to cool off and calm down.
Jovan also left after the argument and went out to meet a girl friend of his in the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City. He decided to cool down with another women after fighting with his baby mama. This was starting to turn ugly…
At the end of the night Jovan ended up losing this women in the crowd and was unable to find her. With the night coming to an end he decided to jump in his car and drive to her house to stay there for the night. Unfortunately she was not home when he arrived.
Fueled with anger, Jovan could not do anything about his argument he had with Kassandra as she was not around. He wanted to go home but he too was far too intoxicated to drive at this point and decided to sleep it off.
As he kept calling Kassandra and going straight to voicemail Jovan was increasingly becoming more and more irritated. He expected more from Kassandra and was mad she was not responsible.
Sleep it Off
All he could do was sleep off his drunkenness in his car outside the apartment complex he parked in front of. He figured once the morning came and his drunkenness ebbed away, he could finally drive home to confront his seemingly careless girlfriend.
As Jovan slept in his car to try to sober up he was quickly awaken by flashing light and the noise of a siren. He quickly realized there was police officers by his car. Why were the cops there? Did someone call them? Is Kassandra behind all of this and is trying to ruin his NFL career now?
At around 2:50am the police after receiving a phone call pulled up on Jovan while he was sleeping in his car. They were unaware of the situation and walked to his passenger door to find out what was going on.
Jovan told the police he was waiting for his girlfriend and fell asleep. The police told them there were only temporary tags on his car and urged him to leave the car and find a place to stay.
The police said they did not smell alcohol on Jovan and he was not slurring his words. They believed him when he said he simply fell asleep in his car.
The police got Jovan to leave his car and go somewhere to sleep urging him to do so as they were “trying to cut him a break”. What the police did not know is this was not the last time they would see Jovan that day. Jovan was eventually let into the apartment complex to sleep it off.
At around six thirty or 7 o’clock int he morning Jovan left the apartment complex and drove home to his house he shared with Kassandra and his baby girl.
While driving home Jovan rage came back to him and he was looking forward to confronting Kassandra about the night before. What he didn’t know was that his life was about to change forever.
Nap Time Over
When Jovan arrived home, one of the first things he did was charge into the master bedroom where his girlfriend and baby girl were sleeping. He came barreling through the door startling everyone in the house.
Shouting and harsh language quickly ensued, and words got pretty nasty. It was a knock-down, drag-out argument of the highest order. “You can’t talk to me like that!” she yelled.
Break the Silence
Without warning, Jovan pulled a gun on Kasandra and fired. The room echoed with the loud bang of the powder exploding as the gun went off with multiple shots. Boom! Boom! Boom!
At the time Jovan’s mother, Cheryl Shepard, was staying at his house as she recently moved to Kansas City from West Babylon, New York to help care of their baby Zoey. The mother quickly realized what had occurred and knew that her son had just murdered his girl friend.
The 911 Call
Cheryl just had witnessed her son murder his girlfriend in cold blood. She immediately tried to help Kassandra and picked up the phone to dial 911 and get the police to the house immediately.
On the 911 call you can hear the baby crying in the background and commotion ensued. Kassandra who at the time was only 22 years of age had been shot in the neck, chest, stomach, hip, back, leg and hand a total of 9 times.
His shocked mother and frightened watched Jovan pack a bag while apologizing profusely to her. He knew he had done something wrong but needed to leave before the police arrived.
As his daughter was hysterical crying from what happened, he kissed his daughter on the forehead and then drove away without saying a word about his where he was going.
Jovan ran out of his home and jumped into this 2007 Bentley Continental GT which was about five miles away from the parking lot of the Chiefs practice facility.
As Jovan was driving towards the Chiefs practice facility, police officers were speeding towards his house to try and save Kassandra. Once they realized she was not able to be saved their attention turned to finding Jovan.
A Shower Would Have Helped
As Jovan drove, the monumental consequence and permanence of his actions started to set in. He drove to the only place he felt familiar, the football stadium where he practiced with his friends and teammates.
As Jovan pulled up to the Cheifs stadium he was still disheveled and distressed by his own violence. As he stepped out of his car, he bumped into his general manager Scott Pioli.
On the brink of a breakdown in their stadium’s parking lot, Jovan confessed everything to his mentor. “I did it. I killed her,” he told him. His guilt and mental strain had caught up with him.
He broke down then and asked Scott to take care of his daughter. All the words he’d spoken, and all of the things he had done wrong that day, all came to light. He confessed everything.
When he had finished confessing, not knowing what else to do, Jovan sobbed and pointed the gun to his own head. Desperately, his mentor tried to get him to put the gun down, there had already been one life lost that morning.
He begged him to understand that his baby girl still had at least one parent left in the world and he needed to be strong for her. At this point Scott knew this situation was bad and was trying to calm Jovan down.
As they sat in the parking lot, his mentor continually tried to get Jovan to understand that his life was not over, to make him understand what was left. He still had people who cared for him and didn’t have to do this.
Scott felt he still had a chance to get his situation worked out, a slim chance… a very slim chance, but the point was that not all hope in his life was lost. At this point he was willing to do or say anything so that Jovan would not commit suicide and end his own life.
Jovan did not seem to be swayed. He still panicked and sobbed uncontrollably while his mentor tried to wrest the gun away from him. Meanwhile, time was running out.
His mother had called the police about the attack in her home and, despite her great love for her son, about the man who had killed Kasandra. They were on the hunt for him…
The Great Escape
The stand-off between Jovan and his coach came to an end only when the whirring sounds of sirens could be heard in the distance. He told his coach, “Guys, I have to do this. I have to go. I can’t be here.”
There was no where else for him to go, however, and the approaching police only served to create more panic and fear in he believed himself to be capable of.
Jovan stepped behind his car, and prayed one last time, asking for forgiveness for what he had done. Slowly, with the sirens and lights blaring all around him, he raised the gun to his head…
…And pulled the trigger at point blank. The shot echoed in the same way as the one that had killed Kasandra. His lifeless body fell behind the car.
Shock of the week
His mentor, helpless in the car, watched as Jovan slowly brought his gun to the temple of his head and pulled the trigger, taking his own life with one shot to the head. His friends, and family were shocked by his actions and how this unraveled so quickly.
Everything had been so senseless, had happened so fast. As the news came in, his mother was at a loss, having lost her son after witnessing a murder in her home and caring for a now orphaned girl.
Tomorrow Never Came
Kasandra’s family was devastated by Jovan’s actions as well. The two of them had a baby and they could afford to raise their daughter and be ok. They couldn’t understand what could cause Jovan to snap and do such evil things to the people who he loved so dearly.
They had plans and dreams for their daughter, they had trusted Jovan, but that was all over now. In the span of less then 12 hours everything came to a crashing halt. Everything, their financial stability, his promising football career, it was all gone in a blink of an eye….
While we can never know what fully went through his head that night, what pushed him, what cracked within him and caused him to break, we can get a feel for him from those he left behind.
Everyone has moments of being hot headed and doing dumb things in a relationship. But no one would have suspected that his rage would be so great that he murdered her in cold blood. It was beyond anything either family could ever imagine. Now this beautiful baby girl would grow up without any parents at all.
Nothing Really Matters
His break cost him everything. The moment of hostility toward Kassandra had cost him whatever life he would have had. Had he survived to be caught life would have changed forever.
Having murdered Kasandra he would have been behind bars probably for the rest of his life and would have lost his career with the sport he loved. In that instance Jovan felt it was better to be dead then to be alive at all and that suicide would be a better way out.
Clock Strikes 12
Behind bars, he would have certainly missed his daughter’s first word, her first steps, probably even her first day at school, everything that matters to a parent. He would also have to live with the fact that he took away his daughters mother from her.
Stories like this should serve as a lesson for most of us and remind us how important it is to stay calm, and seek help when we need it. It also brings up the state and well being of NFL players mental health where there has been a documented history of non-violent NFL players turning extremely violent off the field.
The Sad End
Sadly his poor little girl will be growing up without a mother or a father while having to live a life knowing that her father took that all away from her. And while she still has her grandma, the life of their small child will never be the same.
One day her grandparents will have to explain to her what happened in their home, and to her parents. With any luck she will take it well, but if she doesn’t, hopefully she will have all the support she needs to move on and be ok.
Kassandra’s Mom Speaks Out
Seven years after losing her daughter Kassandra’s mom has spoken out due to many incidents that have been occurring around the NFL and domestic violence. The Kansas City Cheif’s in 2019 were in the news as two star players both had their own domestic disputes made public.
Tyreek Hil a star wide receiver and Kareem Hunt the teams star running back ended up in the news for all the wrong reasons. Kareem Hunt after he had gotten into an altercation with a group of women back in a hotel after a night out. Tyreek Hill ended up in the news after his girlfriend’s friend leaked information of domestic incidents.
A Mother Tells All
Becky Gonzalez who was Kassandra’s mom decided to speak out about the NFL and domestic violence. She did not want to speak by phone or in person so she spoke via text message to KCTV5’s a new station in Kansas City..
She said that she went through unimaginable trauma with the death of her daughter something that no mother should ever have to go through – burying her own child. She said the mere fact of reflecting on it makes her physically ill.
This Has to Stop
Becky first lamented at the fact the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Tyreek Hill in 2016 despite the fact he had a domestic violence conviction only two years prior. One would think they would have learned something from her daughters incident but based on their actions they did not.
In addition to that Becky pointed out that defensive end Frank Clark was traded for by the Chiefs and signed to a huge financial contract after the trade was complete. She went on to say the Chiefs did this despite a 2014 arrest for domestic violence that was pleaded down to disorderly conduct.
A Mothers Rage
Becky went on to say ” It stings when I see this topic not being taken seriously. What more has to happen for a change to be made? It’s very discouraging that teams do not hold to a higher ethical standard and are still hiring players with a DV history.”
This topic a highly debated topic across the media and sports landscape of how sports teams should handle domestic violence and should they get involved in personal matter by giving support and education on the effects of it.
A year after Kassandra’s death her family created Kasi’s Kids, a foundation in her honor to reflect on the one thing she loved to do which was give back to her community. Kasi’s Kids was created “”to provide [for the] immediate needs of the children that are orphaned by domestic murders.”
Becky said it was an honor to be able to help families just like hers that were effected by tragedy and who may not be as fortunate from a financial perspective as she was. Unfortunately this made her own healing process more difficult and after 5 years they ended the charity. Becky Said “I have to think on the good memories. She’s terribly missed.” Kassandra and Jovans daughter is now 6 years old and is being raised by her cousin.