By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
On Friday, September 12, the day before she disappeared, Bullwinkle bumped into her old high school friend Heather Hill at the Crafton Hills College library, and the two spent a few minutes chatting. They talked about going to raves and doing Ecstasy and planned to meet up later that night and do coke. “It was a drug that I hadn’t done before,” said Hill. “Kelly said she had done it. But she never called me.” Bullwinkle also talked to her college friend Daniel Fanica. Fanica later told police that Bullwinkle vented about losing $100 on a drug deal because her co-worker Cassandra Oniveros’ friends had “screwed her over.” That night, Bullwinkle had an intimate gathering of around 10 friends at her home. An acquaintance who attended the party said it was “mellow” and Bullwinkle seemed happy. She bought a $20 bag of weed for the occasion.
That same Friday night, Guerrero was back out with Romero. They dined at another Baker’s restaurant in Redlands. They had their usual: Guerrero ordered the Papa Meal, and Romero ate the Mama Meal. After Baker’s, they went to see Matchstick Men at the Cinema Star movie theater.
Bullwinkle planned to go hiking with Noordman after work on Saturday. Unfortunately, she didn’t tell friends or family. Noordman told police she never showed up.
Ever since Diana Bullwinkle separated from Kelly’s father when Kelly was 3, she and her daughter were very close. The two hopped around to different cities, following Diana’s orders with the U.S. Coast Guard, with whom she had made chief petty officer and health services technician. “We lived in Alaska for three years,” said Diana. “I decided that when we came home we would stop and smell the roses and make it count.” Home was Redlands, where Diana spent her summers with her remarried father and where they settled in 1997.
Diana didn’t get to see her daughter on prom night, though. She was on her first shipboard detail with the Coast Guard in Central America. The assignment would cause Diana to miss half of Kelly’s senior year, starting in January with training for ship detail in Texas and then off to pursue drug traffickers in the waters off Central America. Leaving Kelly alone wasn’t a big deal, though. Bullwinkle was generally considered conscientious by friends, teachers and employers. Besides, her mother’s friend, Laura Williams, whom Kelly considered to be one of her parents, lived with them in their three-bedroom Spanish-style home on La Feliz, a quaint street about five miles from downtown.
Mother and daughter’s last words were by e-mail on the Saturday morning before Kelly went to work. Later that night Diana e-mailed Kelly and did so again the following morning — she was excited to tell her about a large drug bust that she was a part of that day while on patrol — but there was no response from Kelly.
Kelly Bullwinkle finished her shift as a cashier at Baker’s Burgers at 4:20 p.m. on Saturday, September 13. She wasn’t scheduled that day but took the shift when one of her co-workers got sick. It was typical of Bullwinkle to help out a friend in need, and she didn’t complain about having to work. In fact, Bullwinkle covered half the cost of her recently purchased 1992 Mazda Protégé with money she saved up from working at the burger joint. After work, she drove off to go “hang out with friends.” When she didn’t show up for her shifts the next two days, her employer called and left messages on her answering machine, wondering why the usually responsible teen hadn’t shown up to work.
Laura Williams heard the phone messages left by Bullwinkle’s employers on September 15 when she returned from a five-day visit with her parents in Northern California. Bullwinkle’s 9-year-old Australian shepherd, Blaze, and four cats hadn’t been fed. Nor had her goldfish Jesse. Her diabetic dog had not received its twice-daily insulin shots. “She would never do something like that. She loved her animals,” said Williams. The porch lights were still on and the newspapers were still lying at the bottom of the stairs.
Williams drove the five miles through downtown Redlands to the one-story tan brick police station on September 15 to report Bullwinkle missing. There, she told an officer that Bullwinkle had been hanging around with new friends and was recently using cocaine and other drugs. She believed that Bullwinkle had thrown a party sometime over the weekend, because there were empty liquor bottles scattered around the kitchen. Like most teens, Bullwinkle had bouts of depression. Under the category “mental condition,” the detective wrote, “depressed.”
Bullwinkle had been depressed. Last spring, she told classmate Meagan Leigh Smith that she wanted to commit suicide. When Smith asked her why, Bullwinkle wouldn’t elaborate. She would only say she had a “problem.” She also remarked to others that she had been fighting with friends. Again, she didn’t elaborate. Noordman, for her part, told police that Bullwinkle was “closed off due to the whole drug thing.”
When Bullwinkle went missing, Noordman played the role of loyal friend to the girl with whom she had been inseparable as recently as Bullwinkle’s senior year. Noordman passed out “Missing Persons” fliers. Police and friends say she even joined in on the two-day search, which involved over 100 members of the U.S. Coast Guard and focused around the area where Bullwinkle’s car was found at the Ontario Mills Mall on September 14. She even spent time at Bullwinkle’s mother’s house, lending her support, especially in the first week after Bullwinkle disappeared. It was one of many disingenuous acts — including helping to construct a moving memorial at the murder site — Noordman performed to misdirect police and belie the true nature of the former friends’ relationship, which seemed to be near the end.