Special to the Las Vegas Tribune
In May of 2012, Vanniesa Caroline Fernandez wrote to a person on Yahoo who was insecure about her life being too “small.” She responded by saying, “…Good or bad, life is great, everyday above the ground is a good day.” This past month, May of 2013, Vanniesa was buried underground, after she was brutally murdered in her apartment less than two miles off the celebrated Las Vegas Strip. You probably lack a lot of information regarding this story, as most of the “media” in Las Vegas used an effortless excerpt from The Associated Press, giving us the illusion they gave a damn.
Last week I woke up with a cruel hangover. My head felt like it was being knocked around by a tennis racket. Then, some degenerate at a collections agency was calling, asking for my money. “It’s too early for this twaddle,” I said, “…it’s not even noon yet!” Since my phone was already in front of me, I scrolled though my e-mails and found an interesting — to say the very least — message in my inbox. It was from a family member of Vanniesa. To be brutally honest, I was nervous. I knew I wrote an article about her in The Las Vegas Informer a couple days ago, but why would that result in an e-mail from a close family member? I thought. I quickly re-read my article, assuring myself I didn’t say anything wrong. I then opened up the letter and here is what it said: “I read your story and it is the only story that I can read without feeling contempt for the person that wrote it. I want to say thank you for the way you portrayed the story. She also loved writing and I know this is something she would of appreciated. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
It took me by surprise at first. After finding representation as a screenwriter, receiving awards, and seeing some of my “low-budget” scripts brought to screen, I felt no fulfillment in screenwriting anymore. I found that powerful, real scripts are no longer being bought. Only mainstream inane films are being produced. So, I took up journalism. I found a lot of self-fulfillment from it, but I soon began to wonder if anyone was reading my work. Well… apparently someone did. Maybe the art of journalism isn’t dead!
OK, so here we go. If you Google Vanniesa Caroline Fernandez, here is what you will find from our “trustworthy” newspapers:
—Vanniessa was 18
—She was Hispanic
—She was murdered by a 29-year-old male (although some newspapers said he was 40!)
—Her death was ruled as a homicide.
But, after speaking to a close relative, her boyfriend, and doing my own research — which any monkey could do — here is what I REALLY found out:
—Vanniesa was a graduate of Del Sol High School. She graduated a year early, due to her impeccable grades.
—She was not only the daughter of a caring dad, but of Las Vegas — being born here, and unfortunately dying here.
—Her family meant the world to her, including her innocent and sweet 3-year-old sister, who will no longer have a big sister to play with.
—She was enrolled at UNLV’s Medical Program and had aspirations of being a doctor, hoping to save people’s lives — but unfortunately saving lives is a tough business these days.
—She had an amazing voice, yet was very humble about it.
—She and her boyfriend had planned out their whole life together, hoping to tie the knot when they both felt it was right.
—The murderer was a friend of the family. There were no signs of bad behavior on his part, at least to the average eye.
—It became clear he had been obsessing over her for three years.
—Vanniesa decided to move out on her own at the age of 18.
—When the murderer came to her apartment on that dreadful Friday afternoon, he didn’t just shoot her; he stabbed her multiple times in the head… and then he shot her. But being a coward, and one sick and demented reptile, he also shot himself point blank in the head.
But here’s what was considered breaking news in Las Vegas, according to the mainstream press: Indio beer. This Mexican-brewed beer, which has been banned in the U.S., is coming to Las Vegas — but three years ago I had one too many of these beers in Mexico, and trust me, it’s not that good. Sorry, I digress. It’s being targeted to Hispanics in their 20’s, and they are being instructed on how and where to drink it. Interesting. But why aren’t Hispanic girls in their 20’s, or girls from all races and ages for that matter, being targeted and taught how to protect themselves from obsessive men? According to Say No Unite, over 70 percent of women will be physically or sexually assaulted by a man in their lifetime. There are also more deaths among women 15-44 due to violence than cancer. Cancer is one of those diseases that unfortunately has to be fought by experienced medical professionals. But violence against women? Come on, that is something that people like you and I can stop. Donating a few cents here and there or marching in a parade isn’t going to fix anything. It’s about spreading awareness in the press! The close family member, who comes from a family where privacy is appreciated, wanted one thing: “We just wish that there was a way to raise awareness to help young girls recognize the signs of an obsessed person, so that they can tell someone and speak up if they feel threatened.” It sounds like a simple and painless request, right? I didn’t want to say it to him, but I’m not optimistic. Why? Because the media is too caught up in Kim Kardashian’s baby and that President Obama was caught with lipstick on his collar.
Although I’ve lived in four states in the past six months, and I’ve only been here in Las Vegas for three weeks, here are three things I have learned and will live by:
—Never trust anyone driving a $300,000 vehicle, unless it’s the person driving the “Greyhound” bus out of here.
—Never make small talk with out-of-towners while playing blackjack. They are only motivated by making “big” money, unlike locals who are worried about paying rent for their studio in the desert.
—Lastly, NEVER trust a newspaper that uses another newspaper as a reference when covering a beautiful girl being murdered!
I’ll be the first to say that it’s easy to get “lost in the lights” of this city. But if we aren’t careful, we — especially younger women — will find ourselves in front of a different type of light: the pearly gates of Heaven. And although Heaven sounds like a refuge from this twisted world, it’s still sad to think about all the “good” Vanniesa could have done on earth before it was her “appropriate” time to go. But pick up any newspaper across the world, ANY newspaper, and below that tiresome column about what Lebron James “tweeted,” you will find in the far corner a notice about at least one girl who was murdered last night. And it will list her name and the murderer’s name, and that’s it! Instead of living by the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” mentality, let’s use Vannesia’s story to save another girl’s life, even beyond the edge of this diminutive desert. Because, folks, if we aren’t careful, Vanniesa will never be resurrected, but buried… forgotten, lost in this endless desert…
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