February 14, 2013

Oscar Pistorius Suspected in Girlfriend's Death: The Olympics and Paralympics runner Oscar Pistorius is suspected of murdering his girlfriend, the 29-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp. Around 4 a.m. local time Thursday, Steenkamp was shot multiple times at Pistorius' home in Pretoria, South Africa. Police dismissed press reports suggesting that he mistook her for an intruder and said they had been at the house in the past for "allegations of a domestic nature." After winning a fight to compete with his "blade runner" prosthetics, Pistorius reached the 400-meter semi-finals at the London Olympics. Yesterday, Steenkamp expressed excitement on Twitter about Valentine's Day, posting the message, "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay."

posted by rcade to olympics at 08:33 AM - 30 comments

Oh no.

posted by Rock Steady at 09:48 AM on February 14, 2013

Completely senseless. They'd only been dating for a few months. If there were domestic violence issues inside such a brief relationship, why wouldn't one of them simply break it off?

This guy has been a global hero to millions and she was a rising model and law school grad. Police are dismissing the mistaken intruder explanation, but that makes a lot more sense than him shooting her on purpose.

posted by rcade at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2013

Things always make more sense than shooting someone on purpose.

posted by tron7 at 10:19 AM on February 14, 2013

Not really. If an armed intruder had broken into his home, shooting the person to save his own life would have made sense. South Africa is crazy violent.

posted by rcade at 10:30 AM on February 14, 2013

If there were domestic violence issues inside such a brief relationship, why wouldn't one of them simply break it off?

I don't know. Ask Rhianna.

posted by grum@work at 10:38 AM on February 14, 2013

Yeah, ok, I should have said murder. Murder rarely makes sense is what I was getting at.

posted by tron7 at 10:40 AM on February 14, 2013

I don't know. Ask Rhianna.

I have no idea if that was a brief relationship or not when the infamous car assault happened. Seeing her sitting next to him in the front row of the Grammys Sunday was disturbing.

posted by rcade at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2013

The Daily Mail is playing up the accident claim. It also reports that Pistorius "slept with a pistol next to his bed, a machine gun by a window with a cricket bat and baseball bat behind the door."

posted by rcade at 10:57 AM on February 14, 2013

Nice that there's a firearms training ad showing up over there for me --->

posted by LionIndex at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2013

When I lived in South Africa, I stayed with some friends in Cape Town for a few months. First thing my host wanted to do when I arrived was show me where the guns were kept in case someone broke in. I thanked him but explained that I'd be as likely to shoot myself or his dog if I was let loose with a gun I didn't know how to use. To him, it was normal to have guns all over the place.

A tragic accident seems more likely to me (or maybe I just want it to). Disturbances of a domestic nature could mean a party that was too loud - not out of the question for a young celebrity athlete.

posted by JJ at 01:15 PM on February 14, 2013

posted by yerfatma at 02:07 PM on February 14, 2013


posted by dfleming at 03:44 PM on February 14, 2013

Disturbances of a domestic nature always mean domestic violence of some kind, not loud parties.

posted by insomnyuk at 05:34 PM on February 14, 2013

Are you certain that's the case in a country that speaks a different language and has a different police and judicial system, insomnyuk?

I mean, I think it probably does mean domestic violence of some kind, but I ain't ruling out the possibility that something got lost in translation.

posted by Etrigan at 05:59 PM on February 14, 2013

There was one known incident where Pistorius slammed the door on a drunken female guest who refused to leave his party several years ago, but the charges were dropped.

A Times reporter who spent time with Pistorius describes him as someone who was fearful about intruders and "an adrenaline freak at a level I had never seen before."

posted by rcade at 06:04 PM on February 14, 2013

The reports this morning suggest it was a case of domestic violence, and there was a history.

Not the most appropriate day for a high publicity GBV case. But then, there's never a good day.

posted by owlhouse at 08:44 PM on February 14, 2013

At this point nobody (except Pistorius) really knows what happened. So, why the rush to either condemn or defend/justify/excuse him? Of course, he is an individual who has overcome tremendous adversity and become an inspiration to many--but that does not mean he can't be a creep as a person (think Lance Armstong). At the same time, there are also plenty of Jerry Plunketts out there (i.e. James Cagney character in the movie, Fighting 69th) who are often royal pains in the a$$, but when it really counts can be pretty noble.

Let all of the information come out first.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:06 PM on February 14, 2013

One point I heard raised concerned Pistorious wearing of his prosthetic legs during sleep. If he does not, and it would seem to make sense that he would not, he would have very good reason to react quickly to the suspected presence of an intruder. Simply enough, there's no easy way he can run to safety, so it's sort of a "shoot first and ask questions later" situation. It will be an interesting investigation.

posted by Howard_T at 11:59 PM on February 14, 2013

The self-defense mistake excuse is a little tough to believe. Sleeping with a gun close to you is not all that uncommon, but automatically blasting someone, totally by mistake, especially a hot female aquaintance, is pretty lame.

posted by dyams at 05:55 AM on February 15, 2013

One Afrikaans paper reported that Steenkamp's body was found in the bathroom and the shots had been fired through the bathroom door; no official confirmation of that, though.

posted by etagloh at 02:20 PM on February 15, 2013

The New York Daily News has more on the allegation that Pistorius shot her four times through the bathroom door after she fled there during a fight. The sourcing is thin -- "a neighbor told a South African newspaper" -- and even that would be secondhand, since the couple and the neighborhood's security guards are the only people described as being in the house during and after the shooting.

There's no way I can think of to spin that as a mistaken intruder scenario.

posted by rcade at 11:38 AM on February 16, 2013

More awful details.

posted by rcade at 09:35 AM on February 17, 2013

If he purposely shot her out of rage rather than tragically out of mistaken ID/fear, the job of proving it is made harder by the fact that the scene had been disturbed and he was carrying the body through the house before law enforcement got there to process it.

A situation like this happened to a late friend of mine (in the US). The arriving crime unit struggled a bit with the ballistics and forensics because the scene had been tampered with by the shooter before the cops got there.

That made the physical evidence just shaky enough for a skilled defense attorney to be able to put a dent in the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard at a jury trial. The shooter walked free. Not sure what the standards of proof are in SA.

posted by beaverboard at 10:24 AM on February 17, 2013

"Oscar called me at 3.55am saying that Reeva had been shot. I said to him, 'What are you talking about? I don't understand you.' He then repeated himself 'There has been a terrible accident, I shot Reeva," Justin Divaris told the Sunday People.


According to City Press, Mr Pistorius also called his father and sister and asked them to come to the house at around 3.20am on Thursday.

When they arrived, it said, Mr Pistorius was carrying his girlfriend's body down the stairs her head and arms were "dangling", it added.


Miss Steenkamp was said to be still breathing as security guards, neighbours and Mr Pistorius' family gathered, and he tried to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

But once police and paramedics arrived on the scene, she was declared dead.

I'm not understanding the timeline here. He called his family and neighbors and they were all there a half hour or more before the police and EMS arrived? Are police that slow in South Africa, or did he call his family before calling the authorities?

posted by SteveYork at 11:09 PM on February 17, 2013

That timeline seems off to me too. If neighbors heard shouting, they would've heard the gunfire. Security guards showed up while Steenkamp was still in the bathroom. The police would've been called pretty quickly.

posted by rcade at 11:28 AM on February 18, 2013

Pistorius' account of the events.

posted by tron7 at 12:41 PM on February 19, 2013

The blood allegedly on the cricket bat is not accounted for in this defense.

He believes there's an intruder in his bathroom behind a closed door and yells at the person, but Steenkamp does not yell back "it's me! it's me!"?

posted by rcade at 01:48 PM on February 19, 2013

If he broke down the door with a cricket bat it doesn't seem that odd that he would bring it into the bloody bathroom. The only thing out of this story that seems completely implausible is that she wouldn't yell back from the bathroom. The Manti Teo saga seemed about as likely, to me, so I'm willing to hold out for more evidence.

posted by tron7 at 02:29 PM on February 19, 2013

The Onion is darker than I recall.

posted by rcade at 03:03 PM on February 21, 2013

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