All over the world murders take place every day. Often shocking acts of violence carried out by one person directly against another. Love, jealousy, rage, revenge, and heartbreak are all motives and emotions that can find themselves exploding, resulting in the violent and unexpected death of another. In many cases of single victim, single offender killings, the victim and perpetrator are known to each other with some form of prior relationship whether as family members, lovers, co-workers or simply friends.
Reality TV shows are popular with audiences who can watch everyday people go about their lives and relate to their mishaps, struggles, and emotions and their times of joy and happiness. When news breaks of a murder involving one of these ‘celebrities’ it is an act that seems all the more shocking as we feel we ‘know’ the individuals involved. Watching your favourite reality show and then opening your newspaper the following day to discover that reality star has met a violent death is something remembered, focused on and discussed.
Lisa Marie Naegle was 36-years-old and starred as a soon to be bride on reality show Bridalplasty, which aired on E! in 2010. On the show, contestants competed against each other to win plastic surgery and their dream wedding. Lisa Marie came forth on the show and went on to marry fiancé Derek Harryman. In December 2016, Naegle and her friend Jackie Rogers were pictured out together on a Saturday night at a friend’s 40th birthday party in Torrance, California. Rodgers was a student of Lisa Marie’s who taught a nursing class at West Los Angeles College. She didn’t return home to her husband that night nor did she arrive to her teaching job the following morning.
When questioned, Jackie Rogers claimed Lisa Marie had gone on to an after-party without him and he had returned home alone. CCTV footage, however, shows Lisa Marie getting into Rogers car, the last sighting of her alive. On that following Monday, Lisa Marie’s family spoke in depth with Rogers again asking about her final movements. His suspicious story and inconsistent statements led them to go straight to the police to report their concerns. Police searched the home of Jackie Rogers and uncovered the naked and beaten body of Lisa Marie Naegle in his garden buried along with the hammer he used to bludgeon her to death. Jackie Rogers was immediately arrested for her murder.
In amongst the reports of reality TV stars meeting untimely ends by foul play are reports of reality stars being the ones who carried out the violence. Joel Betts was a contestant on the TV reality show Australian Survivor which first aired in 2002. On 17 April 2010 he attacked and stabbed his girlfriend Samantha Holland over 20 times at their home in New South Wales, Australia after the couple had broken up and she had returned to collect her belongings, reports ABC Australia. Joel Betts was also injured in the incident and is reported to suffer long-term bowel injuries as a result. He was convicted of attempted murder in 2012 and sentenced to a minimum of 11 years in prison.
As Criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn discusses in his article “Here’s Why We Love Serial Killers,” society is fascinated by other people and when those people do something so incomprehensible as taking the life of another, we can’t help but take a closer look. Specifically talking about the public fascination with serial killers he says, “Serial killers are so extreme in their brutality and so seemingly unnatural in their behavior that people are drawn to them out of intense curiosity.” Furthermore, Dr. Bonn identifies why we can’t turn away, “There appears to be an innate human tendency to identify or empathize with all things—whether good or bad,” he says.
On 19 September 2017, 53-year-old Robert Reagan, a face well-known through a modelling career with Hugo Boss, among others, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend 47-year-old Loredana Nesci. Nesci was a former police officer turned lawyer who starred in a reality TV show called Loredana, Esq on Sundance TV following her career and her home life. On 22 July 2015, Reagan stabbed Nesci multiple times at their home while their 5-year-old son was in the house.
MSN News reports that the couple were on the verge of a breakup and it is theorized that Reagan’s motive for the killing was to avoid an expensive legal battle over their son and a lengthy divorce, a process he had already experienced with his first wife and did not want to go through again. After the murder, Reagan called his sister to come and collect their son from the home and after showering and cleaning himself up he called 911. In his defence, Reagan claimed he did not intend to kill his girlfriend and she was stabbed and killed accidentally during an argument where she had threatened him with a knife.
On the topic of all things crime and murder, ABC 20/20 correspondent Deborah Roberts told TV Newser in an interview covering a new documentary charting the life and death of celebrity figure Anna Nicole Smith in 1997, “In some cases with larger than life personalities like an Anna Nicole Smith, there is a bizarre nostalgia and curiosity about their lives. People remember big details from their careers or media presence and on some strange level find it interesting to relive those moments.”
Reality TV shows often turn one individual and their lifestyle into a celebrity figure. A person others resonate with and relate to and enjoy following through television, interviews, articles and news. Discovering this person has either been the victim of murder or has committed murder themselves shocks us and we switch from actively following their lives to following the story of their deaths.