Texas Teen Lesbian Shooting Victim Remembers That Night, Eyewitness Comes Forward

photographing the crime scene (AP Photo/Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Michael Zamora)

18-year-old Mary Kristene Chapa is conscious. It’s been over a week since Chapa was shot in a Portland, Texas park, along with her girlfriend, 19-year-old Mollie Olgin, who did not survive the attack. On Friday, Chapa’s brother Hilario told MSNBC that they hadn’t told Kristene about Mollie yet: “She’s in such a fragile state right now.”

Kristene still had no feeling on the left side of her body, for starters, and when her family came to identify her they couldn’t do so from looking at her face, they had to check her feet and hands.

“I believe she knows what’s happened, but she hasn’t chosen to talk (about) it on her own,” Hilario Chapa said. “I’m under the impression that she doesn’t know [who did it].”

Today, it’s reported that “a friend” told ABC News that Kristene remembers the night of the shooting, but everyone remains “unclear [about] whether she’s been interviewed by police.”

The police have released a basic idea of who the killer was: a white guy, dark hair, in his 20’s, weighing 140 pounds and standing 5 foot 8 inches tall. Slight.

Police Chief Randy White says:

“Information from family and friends indicates that Mollie and Mary were engaged in a same-sex relationship. However, there is no current evidence to indicate the attacks were motivated by that relationship…It appears as if … this was not just a random attack, but that’s something that we really have to develop over time.”

Hilario didn’t know his sister was gay until the whole world did, but his Mom and sister already knew and were okay with it. “I know that Texas has a lot of stereotypes,” he told MSNBC. “But South Texas really is a good place. You don’t see a lot of hate crimes going on down here. You don’t hear about gay bashing or anything like that.”

siblings Patricia Martinez, Hilario Chapa, and Mary Kristene Chapa via MSNBC

He’s wrong, of course (For example, in 2009 in South Texas (San Antonio), Cody Carmichael shot 24-year-old gay male Troy Martinez Clattenburg execution-style for allegedly making a pass at him and, in a separate incident, Enrique Santos killed 50-year-old Jorge Sgetelmeg for that same reason. Also in 2009, James Lee Whitehead, who went by “Niki Hunter” in the drag world, was jumped and beaten by three armed assailants and was killed when a SAPD officer misfired and hit him instead of the assailant), but in any event, Hillario went on to say, “Our family is very supportive. We will take Kristina for who she is and what she wanted to be, and we will support her in that.”

This echoes assurances from friends who say the girls’ sexual orientation was “a readily accepted thing” and not a big deal. A 19-year-old lifelong friend of Kristene’s who’d recently met Molly told MSNBC: “We focused on their personalities and how they got along with everybody else … their kindheartedness and their ability to just make other people smile and make each other smile. We didn’t care … what they were, it’s who they were.”

Hillario doesn’t feel that the shooting was motivated by hate: “A lot of people want to speculate it was a hate crime. I just can’t comprehend by somebody would shoot two 18 or 19 year old girls over a hate crime. The brutality of it, you know, it’s just imaginable.”

He talked about how his sister played softball and was an “All-American kid” — a good student, well-liked. A friend recalls that Mollie was showing off a ring that said “Mollie Loves Mary.” The friend says: “If you were her friend or [she] barely met you, she’d give you the world and then some.”

On top of all this, Kristene’s father got a job recently but because he just started, health insurance benefits for his family haven’t kicked in yet. The family is accepting donations for Kristene’s treatment. They’re not releasing the name of the hospital where Kristene is in recovery for her security. Needless to say, her medical bills will be enormous.

Vigils were held for the girls all over the country this weekend. Even in the sweltering heat of Washington DC, 100 people came out to honor Kristene and Mollie.

san francisco vigil in The Castro district, via sfgate.com

I imagine we’re not being told everything the police know, obviously. I feel like they have a suspect, or maybe I just watch too many crime shows. You know how it works, when they don’t release all the information to the public because they don’t want the suspect to know that they’re hot on his trail. All evidence suggests it was someone they knew (police called the attack “targeted,” it was a quiet usually crime-free neighborhood, they weren’t robbed or sexually assaulted) — could it have been an ex-boyfriend? Olgin’s father said the girls had stopped by the park on their way to a movie to “kill time” (the news anchor who chose “kill time” for that sentence and also referred to Olgin’s sexual orientation as a “sexual preference” can be found on kiiitv), which usually is code for “make out,” but who knows — it’s just that I feel like the circumstances around this crime make it so eminently solve-able and so I want to fast-forward to that part, the part where they solve it, even though it won’t change anything about what happened to these girls. I guess it’s easier to think about the part of the story that’s still up for grabs than the part of the story that is already over and is so tragically final. To want to do something, I guess.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1747 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. Thumb up 8

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    gah! bullshit with the “continues to be no evidence of a hate crime” but they weren’t robbed or raped or anything but SHOT IN THE HEAD FOR NO REASON. Why are the police dragging their feet??! I hope they really are playing dumb to flush out the killer. They can’t be that dumb for real. Right?

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      They probably just don’t want to say anything until they get the guy. It’s all too easy for us to jump to the conclusion of ‘hate crime’, and it may turn out that way, but crazy s*** happens. A guy in Miami was killed the other day by police. Why? Because he was EATING A RANDOM HOMELESS GUY’S FACE. By comparison, a shooting isn’t too off base. Horrible as it is, random killings do happen.

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        Comparing this shooting to the miami zombie thing is pretty much a perfect example of a false equivalency. And even then, it’s not just a shooting, it’s a double shooting in the head execution style, attempted murder/homicide in one case, and murder/homicide in the other. and the first murder in that town in 20 years, i believe they said? very different.

        also, i believe in texas the gun laws are pretty open, with no registration or license required to buy or possess (except maybe a concealed handgun). so the killer may have known them, but it’s also possible some random nut job had a gun in his/her vehicle. some crazy maybe saw them kiss or hold hands or something, and flipped out.

        why just kill two girls, randomly in a town with a sparse history of violence of this degree?

        GAH! This is just so heartbreaking and infuriating and frustrating.

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      I know they don’t have all the evidence right now and maybe it wasn’t a hate crime, but I highly doubt it was just a random shooting and it irritates me that a lot of the people going around saying “this wasn’t a hate crime” are straight dudes and are misinterpreting that statement to mean it was just a crazy accident. It seems dismissive/minimizing, like GUYS, DIDN’T YOU HEAR THIS IS A POST RACIST, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC SOCIETY? NO ONE GETS SHOT HERE! You can say that if you don’t have to be afraid of people hurting you because a) you are the less powerful gender in society or b) your sexual orientation or gender identity is something other people are uncomfortable with. Why do more powerful people feel the need to minimize discrimination and intolerance? To make them feel less uncomfortable? Maybe I’m reacting like this cause I am a queer woman in Texas (whose younger sister is also queer and could easily have been one of those girls)…all I know is the way some people are talking about this rubs me the wrong way.

  2. Thumb up 19

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    I’m still stunned with this story. Maybe it’s because they’re girls. Maybe it’s because they’re young. Maybe it’s because they were together in a new love. Whatever reason, this story hits me too hard and makes me wonder that if this could happen to them, why should I be immune from this hatred?

    It’s just numbing, this quiet devastation. I hope Kristene recovers, but really, regaining her healthy body is only a fraction of the struggle.

      • Thumb up 2

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        Nearly all of my friends stayed in state, I was among a pretty small number to not go to a UT or A&M and to migrate to Mass instead. Still love TX (ATX rep!), still love going back, still miss it like crazy, but things like this just make my heart ache. My thoughts are with the entire community right now, it can be so hard.

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    I really hope that Riese is right about this crime being solve-able. Mollie and Kristene deserve at least that. Nothing can change what happened that night but knowing the who and why can at least help start the attempt to heal. Trust me not knowing would be the second tragedy that day and no one deserves that.

  4. Thumb up 3

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    One needs to be wary about whipping up the froth on the hate crime element. At the moment, nobody knows for certain WHY the offense happened, only that it DID happen. And, the reality here is that the conduct ALREADY qualifies as a capital offense given that the murder happened in the commission of another felony. Pursuing the hate-crime enhancement (even if it WERE a hate crime as facts and evidence developed) would add nothing to the sentence while at the same time offering basis for appeal.

    Off the top of my head, I do not recall whether the 13th Court of Appeals has had cause to explore the hate crime enhancements, but it is NOT an issue I really want in the hands of Sharon Keller or the rest of the Court of Criminal Appeals even if they HAVE given our firm some potentially surprising unanimous victories over the past few years.

  5. Thumb up 4

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    Can we raise money to send Mary to A-Camp 2.5 or 3.0? I’m guessing she might not be fully recovered by 2.0 in September. If I grew up in a small town in Texas, I know I’d be thankful to know that a community existed where I could feel safe, accepted, and loved.

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      I understand the sentiment but the money is best spent towards her health care costs if people are feeling charitable. I can guarantee that she’s probably racked up six-figure health care costs at this point already.

  6. Thumb up 0

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    “However, there is no current evidence to indicate the attacks were motivated by that relationship…It appears as if … this was not just a random attack, but that’s something that we really have to develop over time.” If this attack wasn’t motivated by the relationship, it would be a random attack, which it was not. They need to stop beating around the bush with this one! I hope she can raise as much money or more than the lady who was harassed on the bus. I never saw the video but she raised more than she needed to and I don’t even think she needed surgery.

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