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 6 of 8

Gunther saw that side of his friend, too: "As much of a loser that I consider Mike to be now, he did want Katie to go to school and wanted her to get an education."

Mike's mother, a woman with a large pile of cascading auburn hair, showed up for the first day of the preliminary hearing in the Jenna Nannetti murder case with her daughter, who looked to be about twelve. When approached by a reporter, she barked, "The media gets everything wrong. You know you'll just say what you want. I don't want to talk to you," and turned away.

Katie's mother, a mousy-looking woman, was there accompanied by her son, who also appeared to be around twelve, and other family members. She sat two rows behind Mike's mother. Approached by the Express, she also declined to talk.

No one, apparently, showed up for Jeff Hamilton. He sat handcuffed to a chair beside his lawyer, looking vaguely like a grown-up Jack Osbourne, a homely, 250-pound guy who would do anything for his only two friends in the world.

He'd been pals with Katie for years and was like a big brother to her, according to her statements to police. She didn't think he'd ever had a girlfriend or even so much as kissed a girl. When they first met, she said, Jeff had a big crush on her. She wasn't sure if he still did or not. David Hamilton, Jeff's older brother, described him as a shy guy who was into watching sports and NASCAR racing. Jeff briefly attended Las Positas Community College and planned on attending culinary school. He loved to cook and would ply the family with his baked Alaska and other sugary treats at holiday gatherings.

Asked what he thinks about the predicament his brother now finds himself in, David says, "I'm very surprised by what happened."

In his videotaped interview with detectives, Jeff is cooperative and forthcoming about his own participation in the gruesome plot, but shows absolutely no emotion when describing what went down. "They said if I did this, when they got the money, they'd let me move in with them," he explains to detectives. "I'd get to move out of my parents' house."

He told detectives that Mike had only one regret about the way the scheme unfolded. "He told me the one thing haunting him was he made her beg for her life," Jeff said. "He said it was the one thing he wished he hadn't done."

Although the defendants eventually confessed, for several months investigators were hard-pressed to figure out who was behind Jenna's murder. With little to go on, Mondavi walked the slough where Jenna was gunned down for countless hours, and poked around Livermore trying to piece together what happened. Then a friend of Mike and Katie's came forward to say he knew something about a shotgun he thought might have been used to kill Jenna. "I was getting close," she says.

Then, earlier this year, just as Mondavi's investigation began to yield some important clues, the case took a violent and extraordinary turn.

By mid-February, Katie and Mike's relationship had begun to unravel. She was almost five months pregnant with his child by this point, but he was interested in another Livermore girl, sixteen-year-old Aspen Lum. Katie knew her well. According to Katie's statements to detectives, both girls were bisexual and had fooled around and "fondled each other" in the past. A pretty, slender, dark-haired girl, Aspen had her share of troubles. She'd run away from home in the past and, according to her mother, Dorothy Lum, "doesn't pick nice people to hang out with."

Katie, it turns out, was one of those poor choices, even though Dorothy Lum says it wasn't obvious at first: "Katie didn't come across as a monster at all. She was an overbearing teenager type. She seemed bright and energetic and could do anything she put her mind to."

In late February, Katie put her mind to getting Aspen out of the way so she could have Mike all to herself, according to her statements to police. Once again, she called on her pal Jeff to help her out. He refused at first, but gave in with a little prodding. On February 28, the two met at Katie's house to discuss the Aspen murder plan. Belflower admitted she'd wanted to slit Aspen's throat, but told police the two instead decided strangling the girl with a rope was the best way to go. Once she was dead, they figured, they'd tie the rope to a fence post and make it look like Aspen had hanged herself.

Katie told prosecutor Himelblau the day she met him that she wouldn't have even thought of taking out Aspen "if getting away with killing Jenna wasn't so easy."

Once the plan was worked out, Katie called Aspen to see if she wanted to hang out later that night with her and Jeff. Soon after midnight, they agreed, Aspen would sneak out of her house through her bedroom window. Jeff and Katie would pick her up, and they'd go party at a remote location near Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore known locally as "the top of the world," where you can look down onto the valley below.

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