Newspaper headlines from the real-life Death of a Cheerleader story: The Kirsten Costas murder (1984)

Newspaper headlines from the real-life Death of a Cheerleader story The Kirsten Costas murder
Here is a collection of newspaper headlines and stories published in California papers immediately after the cruel murder of Kirsten Costas. These stories chronicle the immediate news reports that detailed the crime, the community’s shock, the victim’s funeral, and discusses some of the police work that was involved in the effort to find the killer — and to understand her motive.

The case was solved in December 1984, and a classmate named Bernadette Protti was arrested.

Click here to read more of the story, which later became the (fictionalized) subject of not just one but two TV movies — “A Friend to Die For” and “Death of a Cheerleader.”

Orinda girl stabbed to death

Oakland Tribune – Monday, June 25, 1984

Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputies were searching yesterday for a teenage girl as a suspect in the stabbing death of another girl here Saturday night.

Sheriff’s deputies said Kirsten Costas, 15, was stabbed repeatedly after she was given a ride home by a Moraga resident, who was not identified.

Kirsten Costas murder -Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (2)


Last hours of Orinda teen’s life

San Francisco Examiner newspaper headline from June 25, 1984

Police said today 15-year-old Kirsten Costas thought she was going to a sorority-like initiation the night she was stabbed to death just a few yards from her Orinda home.

Kirsten Costas murder case front page newspaper story - San Francisco Examiner from June 25 1984


Teen suspect sought in cheerleader’s death

(Continued from article above)

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper clipping - San Francisco Examiner from June 25 1984


Witness surfaces in teen murder

The Californian, Salinas, California – Monday, June 25, 1984

A popular 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death on a neighbor’s doorstep may have been the victim of another teen-age girl, police said.

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper headlines -The Californian Mon June 25 1984


Teen-aged girl stabbed to death

Santa Rosa Press Democrat – Monday, June 25, 1984

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper headlines -Press Democrat - Mon Jun 25 1984


High schooler stabbed in Contra Costa

Roseville Press-Tribune – Monday, June 25, 1984

A popular 15-year-old high school cheerleader described as an “All American girl” was stabbed to death on a neighbor’s doorstep, apparently by another teenage girl.

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Kirsten Costas, who had just finished her sophomore year at Miramonte High School in this scenic, affluent suburb, was killed at about 10pm Saturday, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department investigators said.

The only apparent witness to the killing told reporters that he and his wife were playing pinochle in their home with neighbors in nearby Moraga when Kirsten, looking frightened, came to their door and asked to use the phone to call her parents.

The witness, who declined to be identified, said Kirsten was with a friend who had started to “go weird” he said.

READ MORE: The real death of a cheerleader story (1985)

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper headlines - Press-Tribune Monday June 25 1984


Slain Orinda teenager was lured, police say

Oakland Tribune – Tuesday, June 26, 1984

A teenage girl sought in the stabbing murder of an Orinda cheerleader lured her victim from home under the guise of driving her to a phony initiation ceremony for a socially-exclusive volunteer group, Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputies said yesterday.

Meanwhile, deputies continued to hunt for a “chunky,” “stringy-haired” teenage girl suspected in the slaying of 15-year-old Kirsten Costas, a well-liked cheerleader and swim team member at Miramonte High School in Orinda.

Kirsten Costas murder - Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (3)

Sheriff’s aide Michael Bachman searches for murder weapon

Kirsten Costas murder -Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (4)


Stunned friends wonder why Orinda girl was killed

San Francisco Examiner – Tuesday, June 26, 1984

Police and friends are still perplexed about a brutal killing that so far has no suspect or motive — only a pretty and popular 15-year-old victim.

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Sheriff’s investigators have only leads and a description of the woman suspected of stabbing Kirsten Marina Costas to death Saturday night, but not much else.

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper clipping - San Francisco Examiner from June 26 1984


Another Orinda girl may have gotten invitation to phony dinner

The Petaluma Argus-Courier – Tuesday, June 26, 1984

Kirsten Costas murder case newspaper headlines -The Petaluma Argus Courier Tue Jun 26 1984


Young friend mourns Kirsten

San Francisco Examiner – Thursday, June 28, 1984

Kirsten Costas funeral - San Francisco Examiner - June 28, 1984


Hundreds bid sad adieu to Kristen at emotional rites

San Francisco Examiner – Friday, June 29, 1984

Hundreds of mourners filled the great sanctuary of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church yesterday to pay their last respects to Kirsten Costas.

More stood in the narthex, craning to hear the service in memory of the 15-year-old Miramonte High School student, stabbed to death near her Orinda home Saturday night.

The killing, which has left authorities baffled, occurred as the popular student and cheerleader was apparently fleeing a bogus invitation to an initiation dinner for the “Bobbies,” a public service sorority-like group she had joined.

June 29 1984 - Kirsten Costas funeral


Reward offered for Orinda teen’s killer

The San Francisco Examiner – Wednesday, July 4, 1984

The San Francisco Examiner Wed Jul 4 1984


Cops hunt leads in girl’s killing

The Oakland Tribune – July 6, 1984

Hundreds of calls have come in on a special 24-hour hotline, but investigators said yesterday they have no leads in the June 23 killing of 15-year-old Kirsten Costas.

“A number of people have called saying they think they have seen the suspect. Other people have called saying they have feelings about people who might be the suspect. There have also been psychic calls. The calls have come from all over,” Lt. James Robinson said.

Kirsten Costas-The Oakland Tribune - Friday, July 6, 1984


Reward reaches $15,000 for slayer of Orinda girl

Oakland Tribune – July 11, 1984

Kirsten Costas murder -Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (6)


Parents of slain girl end seclusion

Oakland Tribune – Wednesday, September 5, 1984

Kirsten Costas murder -Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (7)


All leads fail in slaying of teenager

Oakland Tribune – Saturday, October 6, 1984

Four deputies working full-time, and two more working part-time, have followed 800 separate leads without finding a clue in the murder of Kirsten Costas, the Orinda high school sophomore slain June 23.
Kirsten Costas murder -Oakland Tribune newspaper clippings - Death of a Cheerleader case - 1984 (1)

The real death of a cheerleader story (1985)

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