December 2, 2012

NFL murder-suicide stuns UMaine community

Jovan Belcher, who is remembered in Maine as a leader, kills his girlfriend and himself in Kansas City.

By Steve Solloway

ORONO — Shock and pain rippled through the football community at the University of Maine on Saturday at the news that Jovan Belcher, a former star linebacker, had murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself a short time later while Kansas City Chiefs team officials watched.

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Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli walks on the field before Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., a day after Chiefs linebacker and former UMaine player Jovan Belcher killed himself after fatally shooting his girlfriend.


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UMaine head football coach Jack Cosgrove composes himself as he speaks to members of the media Saturday regarding the announcement of the death of former UMaine player Jovan Belcher, 25, of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot Saturday morning in Kansas City, Mo.

Photo by Michael C. York

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“It’s a real tragedy, a horrible tragedy,” said Maine Head Coach Jack Cosgrove at a news conference on campus late Saturday afternoon. “There are a lot of stomachs and hearts hurting right now.”

Belcher, 25, was playing his fourth season at linebacker with the Chiefs. Police say he shot his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, 22, multiple times Saturday morning in the home they shared with their 3-month-old daughter in a Kansas City neighborhood. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs train and play.

Belcher spoke with Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli, thanking them for the opportunities they had given him, said Cosgrove. Then Belcher walked away and shot himself in the head.

Almost immediately afterward, Cosgrove took a call from Jack Bicknell Jr., the offensive line coach with Kansas City and a longtime friend. Bicknell told Cosgrove what happened.

“I don’t have any explanation and reason why,” said Cosgrove. “We just don’t know. I’m not going to try to speculate. You talk about what you do know. I remember his smile. He was a pretty steady guy. I remember how he handled adversity and how he handled success. I remember how he was (at Maine).”

Belcher last played for Maine in 2008. A native of West Babylon, N.Y., he graduated in three-and-a-half years said Cosgrove.

Cosgrove’s cellphone rang continually Saturday morning. Former Maine players and teammates of Belcher needed to talk with their coach. Mike DeVito, now a defensive lineman with the New York Jets, was one. So was Montell Owens (Jacksonville Jaguars) and many others.

Soon, Cosgrove found himself outside his home in Bangor, walking. He didn’t care where. “I wanted to cry,” said Cosgrove. He couldn’t reconcile the news that Belcher had taken a life.

“Everyone has a dark side,” he said. “I didn’t see this. I do know that for all Jovan’s successes, he didn’t have successful relationships with women. But that doesn’t explain what happened.”

A friend of the dead woman told the Kansas City Star that the couple argued in the early- morning hours after Perkins was out late attending Friday’s Trey Songz concert at The Midland arena.

The friend, who asked not to be identified, said Belcher confronted Perkins when she returned home about 1 a.m. CST.

The couple had dated about three years and argued frequently, the friend said, but she wasn’t aware of any prior physical abuse.

Police Capt. David Lindaman said Belcher shot Perkins around 7:50 a.m. CST. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Lindaman told the Star that Belcher’s mother, who was visiting the couple and their 3-month-old daughter from New York, witnessed the shooting and had been interviewed by police.

Another friend of Perkins', Jennifer Ashley, told the Kansas City newspaper that Perkins was a student at Blue River Community College in Independence and wanted to be a school teacher. She said the victim had started dating Belcher after being introduced to him by the girlfriend of another Chiefs player.

Belcher’s Maine teammates spent the day calling and texting one another. Jordan Stevens, now an assistant coach on Cosgrove’s staff, played with Belcher at linebacker. Stevens had plans to go on the road Saturday for a recruiting trip. He postponed the drive south to the Portland area.

“It’s so unexpected,” said Stevens, a graduate of Mt. Blue High School in Farmington. “So unexplainable. He was one of the most sincere people I’ve known. He had a real presence. All of us as teammates looked to him as a leader. If you had a small part on the team he made you feel big.”

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Jovan Belcher (59) gestures at the line of scrimmage during a game against the San Diego Chargers in September. Police say Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend early Saturday in Kansas City, Mo., then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager.

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

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Brianna York, 21, of Kansas City, Mo., weeps as she speaks about Kasandra Perkins, 22, who was killed by her boyfriend, Jovan Belcher, on Saturday.

David Eulitt/Kansas City Star

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Investigators stand outside an Independence, Mo., house where police say Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday before driving to the NFL football team's training facility and shooting himself.

The Associated Press

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Friends and relatives of Jovan Belcher drink a toast outside the player's home on Saturday in West Babylon, N.Y.

The Associated Press


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