KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Less than two months ago, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher sent a foreboding text message to a secret girlfriend, expressing turmoil and frustration with his longtime girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins.
In the message, Belcher said he “would shoot” Perkins “if she didn't leave him alone,” according to police reports obtained by The Star. At the time, the secret girlfriend thought Belcher was joking.
But on Dec. 1, Belcher emptied his .40-caliber handgun into Perkins, 22, killing her after they argued in the home they shared in the 5400 block of Crystal Avenue. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself with a different handgun in the parking lot in front of his coaches and the team's general manager.
Jackson County prosecutors ruled the deaths a murder-suicide and closed the case Friday. The Star obtained the case file, now a public record, which relays a range of facts not previously known.
-Belcher, 25, told his 22-year-old secret girlfriend that Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, “knew exactly how to press his buttons and make him angry.” He told her Perkins had “threatened to take all his money and his child if they split up.”
-Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said Belcher missed a team meeting a few weeks earlier and blamed it on Perkins, who reportedly hadn't come home the night before, leaving him to watch the baby. Crennel said he thought the couple had “trust issues” and Perkins expected “a better life” with an NFL player. Crennel said he thought Belcher had contacted a lawyer about getting custody of his daughter.
-Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, had moved in with the couple about two weeks before their deaths because they were having “relationship problems due to financial issues associated with Perkins' spending habits.” Shepherd said the argument that preceded the killings “was in regard to one or both of them going out as in to a club or partying.”
-Police found a bullet hole in the bathroom floor under Perkins' body that went through to the basement, possibly indicating she was on the floor when Belcher fired that round. Shepherd said she heard a “thump” before the gunshots. Police found eight spent shell casings and three bullet fragments in the bathroom and one spent bullet in the basement. Police observed 10 apparent gunshot wounds on the front of Perkins body, including to her neck, shoulder and chest, and five wounds on her backside. The medical examiner said four bullets remained in her body.
-Belcher had numerous tattoos, including the words “Reckless” and “Abandon” on his torso, “Failure is not an option” on his chest and “Loyalty” on his bicep.
The case file contains nearly 60 pages of witness interviews, recovered evidence and officer observations. Police are awaiting toxicology results and crime-scene diagrams, but investigators forwarded the existing file to prosecutors because the pending reports would not change the outcome or challenge the known evidence, the lead investigator said.
The file outlines the couple's problems, how Belcher's mother and the Chiefs tried to help them and details Belcher's activities before the killings.
The events begin at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 30, when Belcher drove to his secret girlfriend's apartment while Perkins attended a concert downtown with friends. Belcher and his paramour drank and played cards, and Belcher agreed to accompany her and her friends to a club in the Power & Light District at 10:30 p.m. They left the district about 12:45 a.m. and kissed goodbye in the parking lot of her building. Around 1 a.m., a friend of Perkins has told The Star, the couple argued about Perkins being out late. The friend never specified whether that encounter was in person or by telephone. The police report doesn't mention this dispute, instead indicating that after his secret girlfriend went inside, he fell asleep in his car.
Police roused him two hours later after someone called 911 to report his Bentley as suspicious. Officers noted the car was running and legally parked. They said Belcher “initially displayed possible signs of being under the influence (asleep and disoriented),” but after a few minutes of being awake, his demeanor and communication “became more fluid and coherent.” The officers and their sergeant could not smell any alcohol on his breath or person.
Belcher tried to call his secret girlfriend but could not reach her. He then knocked on a neighbor's door. The two women inside said Belcher “appeared to be intoxicated.” He told them his friend wouldn't come to her door, and they invited him inside to wait. He talked about his past and they said he “seemed to be in good spirits. laughing, joking.” He thanked them for letting him in their home. At 4:30 a.m., they gave him a pillow and blanket and he slept on the couch. He left at 6:45 a.m.
When Belcher arrived home, an argument broke out with Perkins. Shepherd overheard the shouting but didn't intervene because Perkins had previously accused her of “interfering.”
After Shepherd heard gunshots, she ran to the bedroom and saw Belcher kneeling next to Perkins' body, saying he was sorry. He kissed Perkins, his daughter and his mother and repeatedly apologized. He backed his Bentley out of the driveway, then got out, pulled off his sweatshirt and threw it in some bushes. He then drove to Arrowhead.
On the way, he apparently broke off the car's rearview mirror. Police later noted shattered glass on the dashboard and front passenger seat and the broken mirror resting on the seat. Police also saw blood on the gear shift and noted that Belcher's body had cuts and blood on his right index and ring fingers.
Once at Arrowhead, Belcher encountered Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli.
“I'm sorry, Scott,” he said. “I've done a bad thing to my girlfriend already. I want to talk with (linebackers coach Gary) Gibbs and Romeo.”
Pioli then called the coaches to the parking lot. A security guard tried to stop them, but the coaches insisted. Despite their pleas for Belcher to put down the gun, Belcher only briefly lowered the Beretta .40-caliber handgun to chamber a round. He then walked away.
Crennel raised both his hands, pleading with Belcher to put the gun down. “You're taking the easy way out!” Crennel yelled.
Belcher glanced at an approaching police officer, then knelt behind a minivan, made the sign of the cross on his chest with his left hand and fired a bullet into his head above his right ear. After the gunshot, Crennel slumped, dropped his hands and turned away from Belcher.