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Aug 042008

Kirsten Costas (photos below) was supposed to be the cheerleader that was killed by Bernadette Protti (photos below) in 1984. It happened in Miramonte High School in Orinda, California. Both Kirsten Costas and Bernadette Protti were 15 years old when Bernadette Protti killed Kirsten Costas.

Bernadette Protti’s picture. She was protected and only an artist’s impression was allowed to be made public.
Bernadette Protti in 1984
Bernadette Protti in 1984

Bernadette ProttiBernadette Protti was convicted for second degree murder. As she was a juvenile, Bernadette Protti served about 7 – 8 years jail before she was released in 1992. Bernadette Protti changed her name and left California.

Bernadette Protti Bernadette Protti in HS Yearbook 1985.

Kirsten Marina Costas or Kirsten Costas
Kirsten Marina Costas/ Kirsten Costas

The movie, Death Of A Cheerleader, supposedly modeled itself after the true story of Bernadette Protti and Kirsten Marina Costas/ Kirsten Costas.

There was another story that shared similarities and the post is in –

Death of a Cheerleader – What Happened to Angela Delvecchio?

Bernadette Protti and Kirsten Costa photos.

Bernadette Protti, at left.

Bernadette Protti, at center.

Kirsten Costas was popular and secretly admired by Protti. The latter had invited Costas out for a date when the tragedy happened. The exact nature of the events that followed may not be fully known but there were sketchy details. Costas and Protti had a dispute which turned ugly.

One story said Costas slighted Protti by something she said. Some said Costas jilted Protti’s attentions. Another kind of story said Protti had been bullied all along by Costas and other school mates and she snapped.

Kirsten Marina Costas was born on July 23 1968 and died on June 23 1984. Her parents were wealthy. Arthur Costas and Berit Costas had a son, Peter Costas, as well as their daughter Kirsten. The Costas family lived in Oriunda, California.

Kirsten Costas attended the Miramonte High School. Kirsten was a cheerleader and a swimmer in the school’s swimming team.

Protti testified that she wanted to take Costas to a dinner party thrown by the Bob-o-links, a group at their school. However, it was not true as Protti could have invented the excuse to spend time with Costas. When Protti and Costas met up, the latter discovered there was no party and she quarrelled with Protti.

Costas got away from Protti and went to seek refuge with Mary Jane Arnold, and Alex Arnold, who were living near the area. Mr Arnold drove Costas home, after she failed to get a hold of her parents. He noticed a car following his car. After Arnold dropped off Costas at her home, he got back into his car. He said he thought he saw the two girls having a fist fight. He wasn’t near enough to see that a knife was involved. Costas was stabbed 5 times and was fatally wounded. After she was sent to hospital, she couldn’t be saved and died.

Protti took a lie detector test and passed. Her alibi was not checked. That was a mistake. After police checked her alibi for the night, they found her story could not be confirmed. They examined her lie detector test again, and realized Protti had lied. She then wrote a letter to her mother, confessing her role in the death of the cheerleader Kirsten Costas.

Protti claimed she had never intended to kill Costas. She said she found a knife by chance and used it.

Costas’ parents claimed Protti had planned to kill Kirsten, as the former did not dress up for the so called party, and had made up the excuse to kill Kirsten.

Protti was convicted and sentenced to 7 years in prison. The Costas family objected to the light sentence and tried to say Protti planned a first degree murder. The Costas family uprooted themselves and moved to Hawaii. They wanted a new start after the tragedy.

Protti served her sentence and was released in 1992. Protti was 23 years old then. She changed her name and left California.

The Death Of A Cheerleader was the name of the film inspired by the true story of Costas and Protti. The movie went by another name, A Friend To Die For. Tori Spelling acted as a reel character named Stacy Lockwood. Kellie Martin acted as Angela Delvecchio, who was modeled on the real life Bernadette Protti.

Who is the real Bernie Protti?
What is her psycho leaning? What signs and symptoms did she display that gave clues to her mental state? Freud said that everyone was influenced by he early infanthood and childhood. What happened to Protti during her early childhood? She could have arrested development at a certain stage. Being unable to progress, she might have used maladaptive practices to cope with her situations. If Protti was unable to deal with her feelings for Costas, she may have done the killing. Every action merits a reaction. With her act of friendship rejected, the humiliation instigated Protti to kill.

Protti was described as an awkward school girl. She was anxious for the lack of friends. She became self conscious for her inability to fit in. She felt depressed. She became vulnerable to negative thoughts. With a stack of negatives against her, Protti became overwhelmed. The long term good was outweighed by immediate desire for satisfaction of desire. She perceived her need would be met by an action. If she finished off the object of her misery, her problem would be removed. She failed to think of the consequences like being caught for responsibility.

Protti was armed with a knife. She intended to use her weapon to coerce, threaten, injure or kill. She had nursed angry hostility towards Costas for a long time. Eventually, her impulsiveness ruled and she executed the stabbings. Surely her intention was not to leave a live victim who could tell investigators who catch for the crime. The stabbings were intended to kill he victim.

This is what Bernadette Protti could look like as an adult.

Bernadette Protti

Protti was given a chance to rehab during the 7 years imprisonment. After her release, her name and identity have never popped up again. It could mean she has reformed. According to psycho- analysis of personalities, Protti could have become the Conscientious person. She may be self-disciplined, dutiful, competent, orderly, deliberate and achievement orientated. Some readers have commented they found the new identity of Bernie Protti. She has managed to turn over a new leaf. Bernadette Protti lives and yet is not living.

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  25 Responses to “Death Of A Cheerleader is about Bernadette Protti & Kirsten Costas”

  1. Everyone knows who Bernadette is now. Check out her video on Youtube for her chess pie recipe and read the comments. There is a woman who has a whole blog dedicated to outing her new identity. Things are getting crazy!

  2. She planned it out to murder that poor girl hello planned it out she got nine years only did 7 REALLY! seven years for murder bunch of B.S some of you all don’t see the picture there’s inmates that are in prison with drug charges get more time than that WTH is going on here 25 to life it’s murder of a human stupid ass judge

  3. I graduated from high school 34 years ago I was pretty and had everything I needed I also had friends was an average student with a talent in art I was not popular and was always being scathed at because I was a little different from some of my peers and it hurt it was a difficult issue I had to deal with. In the middle of my senior year I rebelled inside and felt so much bitter anger it is normal feel anger at some point but to explode and really hurt someone to the point of murder is horrible I think Bernadette should have taken the time to cool off and just go home and deal with just who she was in school being not popular has its bright side if your a good person.

  4. Bernadette Protti is now named Jeannette Tomanka and lives in texas. She first changed her name to Jeannette Butler.


    and then changed it to Tomanka when she remarried.

  5. What about the homosexual theory? I heard it’s possible Bernadette made a move on Kirsten which is what prompted Kirsten to flee the car and knock on a stranger’s door, Bernadette was SO horrfied of it getting out she killed her. Although, it is also strange she invited her to a party and was wearing sweatpants….so many questions left unaswered.

  6. I just watched this movie again for the first time in 7 or 8 years. Like the above comment says I feel for both families. I do understand both sides as much as I can without knowing exactly what happened. Peer pressure is very difficult for young people. Both Berndette and Kirsten were victims of peer pressure. I’m sure there was a lot about Kirsten that Berndette never knew. The grass is always greener on the other side. One of the above comments is from someone who went to school with both girls. She claims Berndette didn’t turn herself in until the police bothered her again. And I do wonder if she turned herself in for the right reasons. I wonder how accurate the movie was and why it was in favor of Berndette. But I do know we are all God’s children and he forgives those who ask for forgiveness. And I do believe Kirsten is with God right now regardless of what kind of person she was. And I would like to believe Berndette will be too. May the Lord be with them both!

  7. wow whether the film is entirely correct or not it is very touching,i cannot imagine being pushed that far in wanting to kill someone,my heart goes out to the parents and families of both girls xx

  8. Can Laura complete a comment with out the “F” word in it? Someone with such foul-mouthed comments carries little credibility.

  9. I for both girls,and their parents.But i know about bieng teased told your stupid and ugly so on ,mureder never came to mind but killing myself did.parents need to teach their kids not to bully and quit thinking it is cute. I think the girl did it without thinking,and the reeason she didnt turn her self in earler was she was thinking of her parents and didnt want to be another disapointment.I really wish everyone would think befor they act or say.May god be with the girls parent

  10. Think Before You Act

  11. I know what it feel like to be unpopular and the unpretty one. I was in the similar spot as Bernadette. Well, I had it worse because I was overweight and never dressed like everyone else. There was this girl whose name was Rosa who is similar to Kristen.She was gorgeous and liked by all the boys.She constantly taunted me.I did wish the worst for her and did want to kick her ass. But murder never came to my mind.I feel the pain Bernadette had at that moment. She just wasn’t in her right state of mind. Bullying does lead to deathly results. Parents should teach their children to treat people as they want to be treated.

  12. If the movie is based on Kirsten Costas, I feel bad for her family. It’s bad enough that they lost their daughter to a horrible crime but then they have to deal with her being portrayed as an extremely cruel person and a unsympathetic murder victim) while the killer is portrayed in a sympathetic light.

    Laura, grow the hell up. You sound like a child throwing a temper tantrum. It is seriously pathetic that you are unable to express your opinion with resorting to name calling and using the oversused whore insult. Newsflash, little girl…not everyone is going to share your opinion. Put on you big girl panties and accept it. No has to shut up, if you don’t like opinions different from yours, you have the option of ingoring it.

  13. Laura you need to shut up! You don’t get it. Family members ARE the same as a daughter. Stop being so ignorant! What happened to Kirsten was beyond tragic and the reasons it happened are many and may never be truly understood.

  14. Trina you should fucking read your stupid comment which I believe is stupid. How would you feel if somebody kill your daughter? maybe if this happened to you, you wouldnt think that way. Family members are not the same as your own daugher or son, so you should shut up….

  15. My response is to Trina’s comment nobody is trying to judge the Bitch of Bernadette but what she fucking did was fucking wrong. She was a jealous Bitch who couldn’t handle being her sorry self justice was not served. She should be in jail and hell fucking yeah she was UGLYYYYYYYY,,,,,,

  16. Unless your God your opinions about rather she should she be in jail doesn’t matter. That’s what’s wrong with the world now everyone has something to say. Parents should teach their kids not to be mean, no it’s not right to kill it’s says it in the commandments. Therefore she sinned but so did Kirsten a sin is a sin God doesn’t judge by the severity of the sin lying is the same as killing in his eyes. She is forgiven by God so why are people who were not even involved passing judgment? Let it go, I had two family members murdered in the past four years, but my family forgave them instead of carrying the hate inside because all it does is prolong your pain and make you appear less in God’s eyes.

  17. i think bernadette was pretty. she just had problems. somewhere along the line she became obsessed with kirsten. she was envious and jealous. she wanted everything that kirsten had and was always second best.kirsten became the cheerleader and bernadette did not;that made her jealous. in her mind,she could never be as good as kirsten. but as for their looks,kirsten was cute,not gorgeous. bernadette,i think,was also attractive. i think alot of it also had to do with the fact that kirsten came from a wealthier family. but anyways, i feel sorry for kirsten. she did not deserve that. thats remember that bernadette had the problem,NOT kirsten. bernadette should be in prison,but she is not. she was paroled after 7 years i believe.she took a life and was eventually given her freedom back. is this justice????? can she control her emotions and think clearly and not act on impulse?

  18. This is in response to TJ the idiot. Bernadette Protti was not better than Kirsten pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee not in a million years, that girl was so fucking ugly this is why she killed Kirsten she could never ever be her and she couldn’t take it, she was a jealous bitch who couldn’t handle being who she was an ugly fucking whore.She should be in jail now, she should die the same way for being a jealous BITCHHHHHHH……

  19. This kind of jealous behavior occurs in all highschools, it is completely normal. What is not normal is highschoolers killing each other because of it. I am disgusted by how it seems that others are justifying Bernadette’s actions. Being a bitch to someone does not make it alright, nor does it lessen the fact that someone was murdered. It is horrifying to see that a child is capable of murdering another person simply because they were mean to them. Further terrifying, is that she served a shorter sentence than drug dealers and petty theives. It is not normal for a 15 year old, let alone anyone, to take the life of another person no matter what! I agree with the reply above mine, this person must be a sociopath and a very dangerous individual. To me, she is owed no sympathy.

  20. I actually went to school with Kirsten and Bernadette. Kirsten was stuck up but not mean. I do not know of any evidence that Kirsten was cruel to Bernadette. I think Bernadette was psychotic and Kirsten represented everything that Bernadette did not have. The made for television movie does not portray everything accurately. Bernadette did not turn herself in. The police figured it out.

  21. Only thing I can say is cheerleading at the high school level is not some great talent, give me a break, Honestly Bernadette Protti was way more beautiful than Kirsten Costa and she was probably a snoot little B who need to be knocked down about a million pegs. Not sayin murders just have her A kicked. I dont feel sorry for people that behave like she did AT ALL.

  22. Paul,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  23. Being at High School can prove lethal! Bernadette Protti felt rejected and felt she was a failure. She was also jeaulous of Kirsten Costas for being popular, beautiful, talented etc. Bernadette could see no way out of the dark pit she was under therefore the only solution of ending her pain was to murder Kirsten Costas. I do feel that Death of a Cheerleader is way too one sided where you do not feel any sympathy for Stacy Lockwood as you sense it coming. But she is after all a victim! Whatever provocation was subjected does not excuse murder! Bernadette Protti said the stabbing of Kirsten did not seem real. This was her trying to deny her involvement, trying to block out what she did away. Only it won’t… Bernadette Protti finally did have a conscience and turned herself in to FBI after making a full confession to her devastated parents. But I will not be able to understand to this day why Bernadette let the case drag for so long?! She was not caught until six months after the murder. And two girls were accussed of the crime and harrassed relentlessly forcing them to transfer to other Private Schools.

  24. Was my comment regarding Death of a Cheerleader appropriate?

  25. I think this story is a tragic one. Although I sympathize with the Murderess to some extent there are many elements that I do not understand. For example why did n’t Bernadette Protti turn herself in straight away rather than wait 6 whole months defrauding the system?! There were two girls that were outlined as main suspects and could have easily been wrongly accussed and arrested for second degree murder. Even though it was a crime of passion it resulted in a fatal death of a talented cheerleader. I do not believe the new identity of Bernadette be published or the new location she is now living. However, I did believe that Bernadette Protti should have served a longer sentence. She should have carried out her full term.

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