Dearest PG,

Can we talk about this, this 18-year old girl that was brutally murdered in her Shadyside apartment last week?  A girl who I happen to share a birthday with.

Great.  I’ve got a Dunkin Donuts coffee (XL) and half of an M&M cookie (not healthy, but it will get me through the morning).  What are you having?

Take a seat.

Listen to this:

On her myspace.com blog, Ms. Maas described herself as an agnostic Gemini studying hotel/restaurant management. In her most recent blog entry, dated May 11, she wrote about what she referred to as her “misunderstood” reputation for being a gold digger.

“I do love money,” she wrote. “I would never date a guy that didn’t have money. But I don’t fall in love for money.

“I don’t want a spineless rich guy who dishes out cash and credit cards for my satisfaction … but if I’m going to get into something serious, ya money helps.”

Why did you put that in there?  What does that have to do with her brutal murder at the hands of her insane neighbor?  Why did you put that particular part in there?  What about the part where she wrote:

I make money, and I don’t want to be with someone who is leeching off me. I don’t leech. If longterm is a possibility, they may want marriage, kids, house, etc., and I don’t, exactly. So if they want that with me, then basically they are building and better be contributing to that life. I’m not in this alone, so if they are with me, they should help. . . That’s not golddigging!!!!”

This angered me a bit because here’s a girl, all of 18-years-old, trying to make something of her life, and like other 18-year-olds has a MySpace page where she’ll admit to well, BEING AN 18-YEAR-OLD who shockingly is not a perfect angel.

Here’s my problem.  This isn’t Joe Hardy’s next conquest who happened to take to her MySpace to defend her reputation as a golddigger.  That would be newsworthy and worth printing.

Ms. Maas wasn’t killed in a drug sale gone bad.  She isn’t a lifetime criminal whose violent past finally caught up with her.  This is an innocent student, someone’s child, and she died.  She was violently murdered.  She opened her door to her neighbor and he stabbed her over and over again with scissors, regardless of her attempts to save herself with a steak knife, and then he sat down on her couch and he coldly watched her die.

Here:

He sat on Ms. Maas’ couch while she choked on her blood.

He sat on her couch and he watched her die.  Okay?  She didn’t deserve that.  What she deserves is for every single good thing about her to be remembered, because I don’t care if she dug gold like Captain Jack Sparrow.  She didn’t deserve to die and she didn’t deserve for the PG to honor her memory by mining out a low-point in her MySpace profile.

I still love you though.

Peace.

PittGirl





24 Comments

  1. Angie :-)
    June 2, 2008 7:57 am

    Thats Church Pitt girl. I agree with every word you said.



  2. unsatisfied
    June 2, 2008 8:13 am

    funny, PG — I was wondering the exact same thing when I read this story over the weekend.

    it seems like whenever someone from the ages of 16-35 who has something bad happen to them, the press goes to look for them on myspace or facebook to see if they can find anything saucy on them. this is reprehensible reporting.

    to echo your thoughts — unless there was an exchange between the perputrator and the victim on the website, what does this crap have to do with the victim or what happened?

    this asshole should fry for what he did.

    my condolences to ms. maas’ family and friends.



  3. emstef23
    June 2, 2008 8:22 am

    I agree – what was the point, exactly, in printing stuff that had nothing to do with this poor girl being brutally murdered?! Sadly, we live in a society that sensationalizes EVERYTHING. So the press will use anything they can to make a story more juicy so to speak. It’s disgusting.



  4. Pensgirl
    June 2, 2008 8:25 am

    Yet more evidence that the press has become lazy, and instead of doing real work to report the real story they do the cheap and easy thing to “report” a different, irrelevant, but juicier “story.”



  5. spoon
    June 2, 2008 8:33 am

    My friend Lindsay was brutally murdered earlier this year (Originally from Erie also)and some of the media tried the same thing. Turned out they found all of the good things about her along with the outpour of support her friends offered. Unfortunately her killer has never been caught unlike this asshole who watched Lisa die.

    I tend to group the reporting of select journalists from the traditional media around here together. Reckless, tasteless and bush league. WPXI thrives off being fear mongers, the local papers here have a few editorial and sports writers so far displaced from reality that Mark Madden looked rational.

    I can see that Steve Levin probably thought that by using her MySpace info it was to going give us an understanding of who Lisa was as a person. Unfortunately for him he used poor judgment on what data to share.

    Facebook and MySpace profiles are easy targets because just about everyone under 40 has one. A vast majority use these services as a place of expression and never think of it as what could be their own obituary. Reporters need to take a step back and think of what is in the boundaries of good taste and have some respect.



  6. coach99
    June 2, 2008 8:37 am

    All I can think of is that she was living her life all day, doing what she was supposed to do and this madman was sitting waiting to kill her.



  7. scottie
    June 2, 2008 8:38 am

    I just sent a letter to the editor about the brutality of Mr. Levin’s writing. That is an outrage! He was trying to justify her murder by calling out the flaws of an 18 year-old girl?? WTF???

    I’d hate for someone to pull out my writings from my joural at 18 and use it against me. Maybe I should go home and shred that shit right now!



  8. bucdaddy
    June 2, 2008 8:43 am

    I know the writer was trying to flesh out Ms. Maas’ personality, to give readers a sense of her humanness, rather than just being abother crime stat. However, that seems an odd choice for a quote. Unless … her killer had repeatedly tried to date her and been turned down because he didn’t have much money, and perhaps this led him to focus his desire to kill on her, once she finally delivered insult upon injury: “Why won’t you got out with me?” “Because [besides not having any money, which I’ve tried to be polite and not mention, but you won’t take no for an answer and so I hope this gets rid of you once and for all] you stink, OK?” Snap. Why did he pick her, after all?

    So a lot can be read into that selection, which may have been the writer’s intention from things the police said off the record. It would help make a tiny bit of sense out of what otherwise seems a particularly pointless, therefore monstrous, crime.

    Of course, just because a lot can be read into it doesn’t mean I should read a lot into it. Maybe it was just a clumsy choice of quote.

    If it had come across my desk (and copyediting is how I make my living), I think I would have asked the reporter what the point was. Presumably the writer and editor had a similar conversation here, and the editor got a satisfactory answer. At least that’s how it should work.



  9. Sooska
    June 2, 2008 8:44 am

    the 2 PG’s here I agree with both of you. PittGirl and Pensgirl. I had the same reaction when I read that horrible and sensationalistic story. This is one sick dude who wanted to watch someone die and since she was available she was the target. She was further targeted again by that “reporter.” What the hell was the point of that MySpace crap? Do we readers need to “know” the victim in order to feel bad about her murder? for God’s sake.



  10. chrys
    June 2, 2008 9:10 am

    I don’t see how her myspace blog relates to her death. Shame on the ass crack reporter who decided to use it for sensationalism. I agree, she was a typical kid trying to find herself. I remember when I was 18 I had very distict outlooks on life. Now at 36.. The 18 yr old girl I was is like a distant relative that I haven’t seen in a very long time. :)

    God Bless Lisa Maas, her friends and her family. <3



  11. efw_west
    June 2, 2008 9:20 am

    This is why the death penalty was invented.



  12. gunnlino
    June 2, 2008 10:03 am

    Spoon:
    Sad to say good taste and respect never entered into the mind of the reporter.
    Seldom does.



  13. Count C.
    June 2, 2008 10:07 am

    This whole thing happened right across the street from where I live. This could’ve easily happened to me, my roommate, or many of my friends. It has inspired me in two ways:
    To be more vigilant about my safety, especially around the sometimes-sketchy characters that inhabit this part of “Shadyside” (I thought I lived in North Oakland…)
    and to avoid putting anything about myself on the internet that I wouldn’t want used to villify me in the media if I die. What a shame that this innocent girl’s memory wasn’t treated with more respect.



  14. no harm meant
    June 2, 2008 10:47 am

    First, let me say that this is a tragic and terrible event. No one deserves to die like that. And the reporter blew it with his story. When we are young, we feel invincible, and I think that the internet has given most of us the feeling of being able to say and do anything without repurcussion or remorse. But that doesn’t tranfer to the outside world.

    Lisa Maas should not have died. To her, this guy was probably some random neighbor, juts some creepy guy she’d see in the hall. I’m sure by what he did and how he probably acted leading up to this, we’d probaly all see him as a creepy dude. And here’s the cuationary tale in all this. We can’t go around blatantly telling people we don’t know “you stink” or complaining about their BO, no matter how bad it is. This world is too full of psychos like this guy.

    I pray no one takes this the wrong way, but I just wish we would all start using some common sense and caution in the real world. It’s one thing to call someone on this blog an idiot. But that “no remorse/no consequences” attitude doesn’t play in a world filled with people like that man.

    He had no right to take her life – even if she had told him he stunk, she hated his guts and that he was lower than sewer filth. Like the guy told police, he decided he was going to kill someone. If it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else. But they had that one fateful exchange in the hallway – and that set his twisted plot in motion. I wish she had just ignored him – because from what I saw on that myspace page was a person full of life and optimism and potential.

    What I guess I’m trying to say is – this guy isn’t the only crazy one out there. Let’s all think twice about the way we treat each other. My prayers go out to her family and friends.



  15. Brian
    June 2, 2008 11:10 am

    Look, I can remember being 18 and having zero clue as to what I wanted or wanted to do. People at that age typically are still figuring themselves out, who they are, what they want. So her My Space entries mean nothing to this story whatsoever. It’s part of the reason My Space sucks, part of the reason it’s helping continue opur cultural derailing, and part of the reason that if I’m ever implicated in anything, I’ll be quoted as being some sort of satanic idiot with some bizarre Scrabble problem. Because I don’t leave real information on my profile. Why would I? So maybe let’s not all take My Space postings at face value, OK?

    This girl was murdered in about as cold blooded a manner possible. It was sick and disgusting and cowardly of her killer, which goes without saying. It’s an example of meaningless, useless, lazy reporting to tack those bits on at the end because how the hell do they pertain to anything? It would be like them ending the story with she once smeared birthday cake on someone’s face in grade school. So? She. Was. Murdered. MURDERED. Let’s worry about that and not some useless infomation and editor should have clipped and a writer should not have added just to increase his story inch count.



  16. back in the burgh
    June 2, 2008 11:14 am

    Nice work, PG – you hit the nail on the head (again). A terrible crime, followed up by terrible reporting.



  17. Sooska
    June 2, 2008 11:17 am

    @ no harm meant- Did you ever think that maybe-just maybe- he lied? He is insane obviously so you take his wor das gospel? The “doctor” a Western Psych who gave him medication and treatment doesn’t even exist. He lied about that. Maybe lied about everything else. Maybe he just decided he’d like to see someone die? wow. blame the victim.



  18. Blame the real culprit
    June 2, 2008 11:43 am

    Sooska, this guy most likely had a mental illness. She did not deserve to die, even if she did tell him he smelled (a unkind and ungenerous thing to do, but we are ALL guilty of being mean spirited on occasion–certainly not a ringing indictment of her character.) But lets be clear that his mental illness are not, in general, psychopaths who just want to watch someone die. Usually people with mental illness, even those who end up committing horrific murders, would NEVER do so if medicated. They suffer from delusions and have no control or understanding of their actions the way you or I do.

    Its the pigeons coming home to roost for how we “treat” (ignore would be a better word) the mentally ill in our society. Maybe he lied Sooska, but most likely he is mentally ill (“crazy”) and has little consistency in care and little oversight. Our absolutely despicable treatment of those with mental illnesses leads to many tragedies. Sometimes when the un or under medicated commit murder, sometimes when they are killed because they can’t take care of themselves, sometimes they kill themselves. That isn’t even to speak of the daily tragedy of treating people as if they don’t matter, are embarrassing or scary, or are worthless just because they got screwed in the genetic lottery and ended up with a mental illness.

    This girl was an innocent victim. No doubt. We should get to be casually cruel, or ignorant, or even completely innocent but naive without having to fear for our lives. But if you want to rail against social perversity, look at the system that lets people fall through the cracks. We SHOULD be taking care of people who cant take care of themselves. And not just because they might murder someone, but because it is right.

    This isn’t to excuse what he did, murder is murder. But unless we face the real reasons why things like this happen with alarming frequency, they will continue to happen.



  19. Mitch Cumstein
    June 2, 2008 12:42 pm

    Ah, here we go. It’s the system. Right. So, Blame The Real Culprit, on what are you basing your diagnosis of mental illness for this guy?

    So which “system” exactly are we blaming and what can I do to “face the real reasons” that may lead to some changes?



  20. no harm meant
    June 2, 2008 2:10 pm

    Sooska, I was in no way “blaming the victim.” I tried to be very clear that I hoped no one took my post the wrong way.

    I was simply trying to make a point that we need to be more aware of the type of world we live in.

    I do not for one second believe the guy was so insane he had no idea what he was doing. he was completely aware.

    Medication or no medication, we are all responsible for our own actions. The scary part is having no control over the consequences of our actions.



  21. Blame the real culprit
    June 2, 2008 2:29 pm

    Yes, don’t get me wrong, medication or no medication, he has murdered an innocent woman and should pay appropriate consequences. But we absolutely have failed in creating a health care system that will take care of people with mental illnesses. Many people with severe mental illness cannot work or support themselves, or even care for themselves in any real and effective way. So we give them disability (social security disability insurance). Ok, good start. But they need more than that. They need a support system (hell call them watch dogs if you want) to monitor them for signs of deepening symptoms or for signs that they are off their medications or that the medications have just stopped working (it happens.) People that can barely manage personal hygiene are left to manage complicated medication regimes with a once every 6 week 10 min check with their doctor (and that is someone who is actually IN the system, forget about the ones who fall out of the system.)

    You can argue all you want that we should just say “screw them” or they are the responsibility of their family or any of your other excuses for not wanting to accept a social responsibility for people with mental illness. You can also shunt aside the moral issue of taking care of those that can’t take care of themselves. But pragmatically those positions are just stupid. For whatever reason some people are born with faulty chemistry in their brains that create mental illnesses that debilitate individuals and leave them unable to function well in our society. We can ignore them and let them be homeless, we can ignore them and let them commit suicide, or we can ignore them until they murder someone but the social costs of that ignorance is much higher than actually looking at the problem and trying to figure out a humane and effective way to assist individuals with mental illness to live as semi productive members of society (many can work in very controlled situations).

    As for my diagnosis of mental illness, few psychopathic killers who just want to watch someone die are remorseful enough or sneaky enough to lie about mental illness. So I am using the logic that this was either a crime of passion that then he was trying to cover, or it was in fact a situation where someone with a mental illness was un/under medicated and despite seeking help ended up out on the streets where he took the life of an innocent woman. Maybe he was lying. But if he wasn’t then it was a tragic failure of an inadequate system. We can close our eyes to it and wait for it to happen again, or we can face up to it and try to fix the problem.



  22. Dan
    June 2, 2008 2:59 pm

    I agree with every word in your post.

    Let’s save the city and state some money. Instead of a trial, I will give him my $.25 solution.



  23. Steeler_tom
    June 2, 2008 7:58 pm

    Screw Giant iggle!
    Boycott the papers and or TV stations that reported this mess in that manner!



  24. Still A Fan
    June 2, 2008 9:20 pm

    brian nailed it as well with the birthday cake comment. if i was her dad, i would be going to visit the reporter.