Little Miss Murder 

A Livermore love triangle. A jealous teen sociopath. A cold-blooded plot. And one of the most chilling crime tales the East Bay has ever seen.

Page 4 of 8

Livermore, where all three defendants grew up, is a town of about 74,000 on the eastern edge of Alameda County. It is best known as the home of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, a federal nuclear weapons and national security research facility that employs some of the country's top scientists and engineers. Thanks in large part to the lab, the town's largest employer, Livermore's median household income is a respectable $75,000, even though just one in five adult residents has a college degree.

The city was founded in the mid-19th century, but much of the place looks like it was built last year, giving it the feel of Anywhere, USA. The landscape is studded with tract-home developments, mini-malls, fast-food restaurants, and one chain store after another. But the city's downtown is a charming historic district with cafes, antiques stores, and galleries, surrounded by leafy, bucolic residential streets. And just outside the Livermore Valley's ugly suburban sprawl are rolling, beautiful hills with small farms, ranches, and wineries nestled into their folds.

In any case, it's a quiet place, and certainly one unaccustomed to such drama. "This is Livermore. It's not really exciting," was how one friend of the murderous trio put it.

Nor did Jeff, Mike, and Katie seem like the masterminds of such a grisly scheme. Perhaps the most striking thing about them is just how unremarkable they are. "If you saw these kids and talked to them, you'd never imagine they could do this," says Annette Mondavi, a veteran with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department and the lead homicide detective on the Nannetti murder case. "They seem like normal everyday kids."

Katie Belflower, as described by Mondavi and prosecutor Robert Himelblau, comes across as a chatty, very upbeat young girl who doesn't seem to have a clue as to the serious trouble she's in. The day she met Himelblau, he says, Katie told him: "You know what? After spending the night in juvenile hall, I learned my lesson."

Essentially, he explains, "She was saying one night in juvenile hall was enough to rehabilitate her to be a good member of society and she'd never kill again."

With glasses and long, silky brown hair tied back in a braid, Katie Belflower looks almost bookish. She has a long neck and an expressionless face, and resembles one of Modigliani's portraits.

In her videotaped interviews with San Joaquin County detectives, she comes off as quite likable, hardly someone that would commit murder. She's extremely helpful and eager to please her interrogators; if you didn't know anything about her or what she was talking about, you'd think she was a darling teenage girl. She's friendly and warm and acts like some kind of twisted teacher's pet in shackles.

Katie begins her interrogation by complimenting one of the detectives in the room on his attire. "My mom would love your shirt and tie," she says, sitting there in her mud-colored jail-issue garb. "She has a whole corner in her house devoted to Mickey Mouse."

When detectives ask her if she's ready to start talking about what happened, she says cheerfully, "Ask away!"

The cops weren't so easily charmed.

"She's manipulative. She's almost like a black widow," says Mondavi, a hardened detective and former child-sexual-abuse investigator who was also the first woman on the county SWAT team. "She's the jealous type who wanted Mike for herself no matter what. She had a crush on him and wanted to live with him happily ever after at any extent."

Katie is curiously unemotional during her interview, and expresses no remorse. Only once does she visibly choke up, and that's when detectives tell her Mike still loves her. "I love him, too," she says, and begins to cry.

Student acquaintances from Del Valle Continuation High School, the school for problem kids Katie and Jenna attended, had little nice to say about her. They described her as a sexually promiscuous girl who, although she kept to herself, could be quite aggressive. "She'd start fights but when you got in her face, she'd back off," said Heather Anderson, seventeen.

Sixteen-year-old Mathew Stauffer, another teenager who'd known Katie for years, described her as an outcast who was extremely jealous of others and someone who always "liked the guys girls were already going out with."

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