Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, had separated two weeks ago in the midst of a dispute over the care of their three-month-old daughter, Zoey, a friend of Belcher's has told Deadspin. They'd only very recently reconciled. In email messages sent to us, the friend described Belcher as a young man whipsawed between football-related head trauma and ongoing substance abuse, and the source speculated that a "combination of alcohol, concussions, and prescription drugs," mixed with domestic problems, led to Belcher's murder of Perkins and his subsequent suicide.
The friend wrote that after the Chiefs' Nov. 18 game against the Bengals, the last game Belcher started [Update, Dec. 3: See correction at bottom], Belcher "was dazed and was suffering from short-term memory loss. He could not remember the events that had taken place prior to that game or what he had said to get Kasi [Kasandra Perkins] to return home."
"If you review the footage of the Cincinnati game, he took a few hits to the head directly," the friend wrote.
Belcher's friend emailed initially to point out that the developing narrative of the murder-suicide was overly focused on a single event: the Trey Songz concert Perkins had attended at Kansas City's Midland Theater Friday night, and the dispute that followed when she arrived home around 1 a.m. The Kansas City Star's most detailed report on the shootings begins with that argument.
The friend wanted to stress that the concert was, at most, a tipping point, and that the relationship had soured previously. In further emails, he was frank that his aim was to give us Belcher's side of the story, and in defending his late friend he came off as cruel toward the murder victim, going so far as to call her "the catalyst."
Even so, he wrote that Belcher "drank ALOT. On a nightly basis" and was using medication heavily. He described both Belcher and Perkins as "very young and immature," which "combined with other factors led to this tragedy."
The quotes in the Kansas City Star article about the concert are attributed to two friends—whether friends of Belcher or Perkins, the article doesn't specify, but the emailer assumed they were on Perkins's side. We've reached out to the one named in the piece.
Our tipster offered ample evidence that he was acquainted with Belcher. And his messages offer a timeline of events leading up to the shooting, with details not provided elsewhere.
If it seems like his first message starts in media res, that is not because of editing. It seemed like that to us, too. Here are the emails:
It was his girlfriend Kasi (Kasandra) Perkins. They have been arguing for quite sometime and had separated 2 weeks ago. He had brought her and the baby back home however, they were both arguing on a regular basis. Both of them are/were very young and immature and that combined with other factors led to this tragedy. Please do not focus on one isolated incident for the sake of the Belcher family ad try to dispel any rumor that it was a single event that contributed to this.
We asked what he meant.
This was the result of a long term conflict. I'm referring to the rumors that this was solely related to an argument about her attending the Trey Songs concert... It wasn't. Kasi had left and taken Zoe (their daughter) to a relatives house without his consent and refused to come home. In addition to that she made it clear that she was leaving and wild contact a lawyer to "get as much money as possible". Her friends are speaking to the media so, I only feel write providing his perspective to this situation. It had little, if anything to do with one isolated argument..
We asked if he meant that he thought Perkins had intended to get money from Belcher through child-support payments.
[On the Thursday night after the Nov. 12 Chiefs-Steelers Monday Night Football game] he came home and Kasi had taken the baby (Zoe) to Jamaal Charles residence because she is cousins with Jamaals wife Whitney. They had been arguing for quite a few weeks prior which was nothing new. The majority of the arguments were due to Kasi failing college classes that Jovan was paying for and quitting her retail job where she worked two 4 hour shifts a week. From my perception, she was lazy and after learning she was introduced to him through her cousin who is married to Jamaal I can only assume she was after money. I'm in no way trying to defame her character, however; she is the catalyst to this incident. With friends/associates of hers speaking out to the media and saying that this incident stemmed from am argument about her staying out late for a concert, I have to disagree and provide the full spectrum. Jovan loved her and more importantly loved Zoe. After their argument and she left with the baby he convinced her to move back in for the sake of the baby. As far as what led to this tragic incident, I would say a combination of alcohol, concussions, and prescription drugs put him in a state that he would not otherwise be in.
We asked about the concussion, alcohol, and prescription medication mentioned above:
When it comes to prescription medication it is unclear from my perspective whether it was diagnosed and authorized by the team or not. However I know he was under the influence of narcotics for pain and I'm sure the toxicology report will reflect this. However, Jovan drank ALOT. On a nightly basis. This is not a mystery as he did so in public and private.
When it comes to his concussions; if you review the footage of the Cincinnati game he took a few hits to the head directly [...] he was dazed and was suffering from short term memory loss. He could not remember the events that had taken place prior to that game or what he had said to get Kasi to return home.
Belcher saw limited action in the Chiefs' Nov. 25 game against the Broncos, the only start he missed this season.
Correction: We initially said that Belcher's last game was Nov. 18. It turns out that game was only his last start. He saw limited action in the Chiefs' Nov. 25 game against the Broncos. We've corrected the post to reflect this.