The tragic, haunted, dreadful eyes of Cecilia Chen.
AMNY story on Cecilia: Woman gets 10 years for attempting to kill ex's pregnant wife.
The news story is preserved on a racist website (As far as the website itself, I'm personally offended by it, but it's educational): Monmouth County NJ: another psycho mud woman stabbing case.
She's going to
Although the situations were not the same, there are two obvious parallels between Cecilia and Lisa Nowak the astronaut. One, they were both exceptionally high-achieving and successful women in the military. I couldn't match Cecilia's resumé in a life-time. Two, they reacted to romantic rejection by pursuing and attempting to do harm, perhaps even murder, the "other woman". Worse, there's also an unborn child in Cecilia's case.
I don't have an explanation, just a reaction: What the hell? I don't get it.
May 31, 2007 additions:
Two facets of Cecilia Chen's story stand out for me, beyond the model success track disrupted by an incredible criminal act.
First, Cecilia's chosen medical branch (psychiatry) may be an indicator that she has been aware of her own mental pathology. (If that's the case, then the pressure of expectations and living up to her own success wouldn't have helped her with her problems.)
Second, when she turned to the on-line world for social interaction after her arrest, Cecilia told people she had cancer - see timeline below. She may have lied to cover for any absences (trial, incarceration, etc.) due to her real-life problems. However, while she was lying, she also was extraordinarily open about her real-world identity - she advertised her personal website - when she could have avoided any need to lie by maintaining her anonymity, as most people do in on-line forums and fan sites. Shouldn't she have known that by revealing her real-world identity to them, her on-line friends would discover her lie? It's sad. She must have known the persona she presented on-line was already more fiction than reality and the truth would come out. Perhaps, it wasn't a rational calculation and Cecilia was just in denial, unwilling to give up her hard-earned elite identity even as she thought to hide her shame. Perhaps abandoned by her friends in the real world, she turned to the internet to buy more time, however artificial and short-lived, she could escape and pretend to be normal. It's revealing of her mindset that after she was separated from the Army, she opted to wear her no-longer-authorized Army dress uniform to her trial, and then, during the sentencing, she presented her resumé to appeal for leniency. I guess Cecilia was determined to hold onto her old public persona, even the illusion of it, for just a little while longer until it was completely, inevitably wiped away.
Cecilia's Friendster.com profile.
Jan 23, 2005: After a fight with her then-boyfriend, Cecilia calls John Kim (5 year previous ex-boyfriend) and finds out he's married and his wife Helen is pregnant.
Jan 26, 2005: Cecilia travels from Silver Spring, MD and attacks Helen Kim in the Kims' Ocean Township, NJ home.
Oct 28, 2005: Detective Michael Clancy signs complaint warrants against Cecilia for attempted murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and unlawful possession of a weapon.
Nov 1, 2005: Cecilia is arrested by detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, incarcerated at the Montgomery County Detention Center, awaiting extradition to New Jersey.
Feb 21, 2006: Cecilia begins posting as PandoraX on the lost-tv forum fansite.
Mar 16, 2006: Cecilia posts on lost-tv forum that she has Hodgkin's Disease, a type of lymphoma.
Mar 24, 2006: Cecilia begins posting as Pandora on the Sledgeweb Lost forum.
Dec 7, 2006: Cecilia, posting as Pandora in the Sledgeweb Lost forum, claims she has lymphoma.
Dec 14, 2006: Cecilia is convicted in Freehold, NJ.
Mar 9, 2007: Cecilia is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
February 9, 2008 addition: See Justice for Cecilia, an advocacy website for Cecilia Chen.
October 3, 2009 update: Supreme Court to decide victim-witness credibility Sum: Chen's attorney appealed the conviction based on the identification of Chen by Kim. Last year, an appellate court decided that the trial court needed a new pre-trial hearing to determine the admissibility of the identification and, therefore, whether a new trial is necessary. People has appealed the appellate court decision and is seeking to uphold the conviction in NJ Supreme Court.
April 24, 2010 addition: The Jul 31, 2008 appellate court opinion for remand.
27OCT12 update: January 2012 story says Helen Kim's witness identification was ruled admissible by the Superior (trial) Court, so conviction upheld. However, this July 2012 story implies that the NJ Supreme Court reversed and ruled Kim's witness identification is inadmissible. Is she still convicted or not? Answer: Although her case led to new procedures for eyewitness testimony in New Jersey, Cecilia Chen's conviction was upheld on appeal in August 2013. Prosecutor's brief. Some more information here.