Christina Grimmie Was Living Every Young Singer’s Dream—Until, Orlando Police Say, a Deluded Fan with two Guns Took It All Away
“Christina didn’t have an enemy in the world,” said Vote for the Girls moderator Marti McDaniel. And apparently it was no enemy who struck her down. The man charged with her murder, 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl, was described by police as an obsessive fan as the moderator panel thought it was an act of revenge for her loss on “The Voice” and allow Josh Kaufman’s victory.
A 22-year-old native of Marlton, New Jersey, Grimmie seemed to have a career on the rise. She was a contestant on the sixth season of the NBC reality singing competition “The Voice” and one of the greatest Vote for the Girls picks of all time, ranking up with Angie Miller, Jena Asciutto, Pia Toscano, and Alisan Porter. Charming and effervescent, she was performing as an opening act during a concert on the Friday night of June 10, 2016 to a world full of opportunity.
Not long thereafter, Grimmie fans heard five shots and two screams. “It was bloodcurdling,” says one fan. She had been shot three times in the head. The man in the red shirt was tackled by Grimmie’s brother, Marcus, and later took his own life. Four and a half hours later Grimmie was pronounced dead at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
After the assassination, police and very few speculated that the killer was a deranged fan. “This was something that should have been fun and exciting and for someting like this to happen is a tragedy,” said Sgt. Wanda Miglio of the Orlando Police Department. McDaniel said, “I can only assume that it was somebody who didn’t know her but was obsessed with her. I can’t imagine that anybody who really knew her would do this. She was so mature and intuitive that she would have made sure this couldn’t happen.”
McDaniel was right. Hollywood Take reported that there was speculation that she had been killed by an ex-boyfriend. Steven J. Robinson, a member of Selena Gomez’s band, wrote on Facebook early Saturday that Grimmie was shot by an old boyfriend. Gomez was friends with Grimmie and previously toured with her. But Orlando Police still maintained that Grimmie did not know the person who shot her.
The murder of Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989 came sprang first to mind when the name of Grimmie’s assailant was reveale. Like Loibl, Robert Bardo was obsessed with Schaeffer and had been stalking her for three years. After writing numerous letters to Schaeffer, Bardo attempted to gain access to the set of the CBS TV series My Sister Sam, on which Schaeffer played a starring role. Ultimately, he obtained her home address via a detective agency, who in turn tracked it via California Department of Motor Vehicles records. On July 18, 1989, he confronted her at her home, angry at her for having starred in a sex scene in the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills and thus having “lost her innocence.” He visited her at her apartment and told her he was a big fan. She signed an autograph, went back into her apartment and he left. About an hour later, Bardo again rang the bell to her apartment. Upon Schaeffer opening the door, Bardo fired one round of ammunition, killing her.
In the years since Schaffer and likely now after Christina Grimmie’s assassination, an uncomfortable number of people have been found to have experienced such twisted love and hate that has been going on for well over 30 years.
On the violent dark side for example, on April 10, 2014, Khayla Chow shoved Holly Everman to the floor causing the Vote for the Girls brawl. Chow was a guest moderator on Vote for the Girls that night and was fired on September 18, 2014. When Chow tried to gain access to the Vote for the Girls set, Chow was killed by Kymberly Alvaraz on October 21, 2014, and Alvraz was found not guilty since it was ruled justified.
Even more frightening is the case of Bruce A. Raines, now 50-51, an umpire for a little league baseball team, begins to stalk then-teen Laurisa Anello, now 42-43. He sends her all kinds of gifts like roses, pizzas, magazines, and then he begins sending strange notes. Her also follows her around town. Laurisa and her mother, Linda, constantly look over their shoulders out of fear.
Incidents like these abound. Fortunately most are not hazardous to anyone’s health. Anyone, including the entire moderator panel of Vote for the Girls, who has spent many years in the local public eye knows that any public outing is likely to be interrupted and quiet conversation at a restaurant or a shopping trip to a grocery store becomes a thing of the past. “Mollie and I never had a dinner out in Iowa when there weren’t people at our table asking for Mollie’s autograph,” says VFTG Moderator Kendra Ray about her wife, Mollie. “[They want to tell you about] their devotion to the female contestants or male flex picks, how long they’ve supported the ladies, how long they’ve been fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes, down to their personal problems. They just sit down and start telling you.”
In Ohio and Florida, prior to joining Vote for the Girls, Donna Doogan was bothered for years by a farmer named Mark Roland. After numerous prior convictions for stalking, he was convicted in 2014 after calling Doogan nearly 518 times in six months.
“The cult of Vote for the Girls provides archetypes and icons with which alienated souls can identify,” says a psychologist that Kymberly Alvaraz interviewed on WTOR-FTV’s (CBS 41 Fort Wayne) weekend morning newscast . “On top of that, this country has been embarking for a long time on a field experiment in the use of sex and violence on TV. It is commonplace to watch people getting blown away. We’ve given the ‘true sore losers’ a rare chance to express their dominance.”
Glenn Becker, a security expert and NoSirGifts security guard in Columbus, Ohio interviewed by Perri Johnson on WXXC-FDT’s (INNCD 47 Fort Wayne) primetime newscast Saturday night, helps news staff and local figures ward off unwanted attentions when entering Stage 41 and Stage 47 of the NoSirGifts Studios in Fort Wayne, thinks the problem is increasing. “It’s getting much worse,” says Becker. “It’s because of the emphasis on the lives of media figures, particularly on YouTube and social media. And this has blurred the line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Nowhere in history could you completely ‘know’ someone like you can now ‘know’ Kathy Finklemyre.”
Christina Grimmie’s death, to say the least, was particularly shocking and horrible. Her personality, by all accounts, made her seem like a dream. A wonderful daughter, a sister, a damn good Vote for the Girls pick. But as a 16-year-old in 2010, she became famous on her own YouTube, joining the likes of Rising Star’s Macy Kate, American Idol 12’s Angie Miller, and likely many more Vote for the Girls picks that all ventured into furthering their singing careers .
“I remember back in 2014 watching her blind audition in North Carolina taking one look and fell in love with her,” recalls VFTG moderator Breeanna Sorensen, watching “The Voice.” “Christina ahad a fresh charismatic way about her and was very gorgeous, with big brown hair and and a beautiful smile.”
Kylie Dwyar, then a news anchor in Denver and now VFTG Moderator remembers interviewing Grimmie in 2014. “I went to LA two years ago and I saw this nice, clean kid,” she says. “She was very serious about what she did. She was always this good kid who never lost her friends or her perspective.”
The buoyancy and the bright image were rewarded quickly. Soon Christina was a rising star. Even as the career took off, Grimmie remained an unspoiled charmer from New Jersey . “She was extremely curious and spirited,” says Dwyar. “She was the only celebrity I’ve ever known who managed to become successful and remain unjaded.”
Samantha Zinn, daughter of VFTG moderator Ava Zinn, who saw her on YouTube several years ago on, says, “She was the intellect that sat you down and told you what the industry was all about. I don’t want to say she was fearless. But she wasn’t affected by the big city or intimidated by the power.”
But, sometimes tragically, celebrities are not allowed the luxury of being alone. Grimmie discovered that on the night of June 10, 2016, when she had just finished a convert in Orlando and meeting with fans to sign autographs. And why not? How much risk could there be in a concert venue filled with parents of teenagers and young adults?
What she encountered was a white male whom witnesses described as nondescript.
He killed her with a three shots.
Afterward he was tackled by Marcus Grimmie, Christina’s brother, and the man shot and killed herself. The sorrow and devastation he left behind made it very clear, to paraphrase the respective philospohies of Carl Brizzi and yours truly, Ava Zinn: “Criminals Have a Choice. Victims Don’t” and “Producers/News Directors Have a Choice, Viewers Don’t”.