Current Project

Announcing

a narrative nonfiction book

by Chivas Sandage

with Kristene Chapa

IMG_8639_photo by V. Felten
Kristene Chapa at Violet Andrews Park two years after the shooting (photo by V. Felten)

On the night of June 22, 2012, a lone gunman sexually assaulted then shot, execution-style, a lesbian teenage couple in a suburban South Texas park. Nine hours later, bird watchers found Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Mary “Kristene” Chapa, 18, on a windy coastal bluff that slopes into Corpus Christi Bay. Both girls had been shot in the back of the head at point-blank range. Mollie died at the scene. Kristene survived. 

When Kristene woke in a hospital, she could not speak, open her eyes, or move her left side, but she remembered the gunman’s face. As she gained strength, she began to sign with her right hand—at first her only way to communicate—and helped police create a composite sketch of the gunman. Kristene Chapa spent the next three and a half months living in rehabilitation centers where she worked hard to prove her doctors wrong. Her sense of humor, refusal to pity herself, and stubborn courage inspired many across the nation. She posted “I Take Bullets” as her tagline on Twitter, threw herself into a swimming pool to keep her therapists on their toes, and as a former MVP on her high school softball team, threw the first pitch of her team’s next season.

On June 20, 2014, the gunman and his wife were arrested. David Malcolm Strickland, 27, was charged with capital murder, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated assault. Laura Strickland, 23, faced charges of tampering with evidence. Later, all charges against Laura were dropped. In September 2016, David Strickland was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. 

This book explores tragedy and a search for justice set against changing attitudes about sexual orientation and gender identity in the contemporary American South. Kristene Chapa’s own writing and intimate voice weave throughout the book, telling her remarkable story of loving and losing Mollie, and how she continues to reclaim her body and her life. Among the growing number of tragedies caused by gun violence, too rare are the voices of victims who survive—especially young women like Kristene Chapa who thrive despite all odds.

NATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE (selected)

MSNBC “Originals” documentary (Feb. 9, 2017)

In May of 2015, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) flew Kristene Chapa to New York City to speak and present at the GLAAD Media Awards held at the historic Waldorf Astoria. During the awards ceremony, Kristene’s story was featured and she received two standing ovations. BuzzFeed interviewed Kristene before the awards, and her speech was covered by other media outlets including After Ellen, Out, VarietyThe Hollywood ReporterThe Daily MailYahoo, and many more. Variety referred to Kristene’s speech as a “standout moment.” Celebrities including Michael Sam and Orange Is the New Black cast members Dascha Polanco, Ruby Rose, and Jackie Cruz befriended Kristene at the awards.

WATCH KRISTENE CHAPA’S SPEECH 

Kristene Chapa speaking at the GLAAD Media Awards
Kristene Chapa speaking at the GLAAD Media Awards
Dascha Polanco and Kristene Chapa at the GLAAD Media Awards
Dascha Polanco & Kristene Chapa at the GLAAD Media Awards
Ruby Rose, Jackie Cruz, Kristene Chapa, & Grace Chapa at the GLAAD Media Awards
Ruby Rose, Jackie Cruz, Kristene Chapa, & Grace Chapa at the GLAAD Media Awards

 

Ty Herndon dedicated his performance to Kristene Chapa
Ty Herndon dedicated his performance to Kristene Chapa
Kristene Chapa & Chivas Sandage at the GLAAD Media Awards
Kristene Chapa & Chivas Sandage at the GLAAD Media Awards

 

Additional info:

Autostraddle (May 2015)

GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation): Dec. 2014Nov. 2014, July 2014

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

To support Kristene Chapa’s medical fund click here!        

 

IMG_8658_photo by V. Felten
The overlook at Violet Andrews Park, May 16, 2014 (photo by V. Felten)

 

IMG_8602_photo by V. Felten
Kristene Chapa, May 2014 (photo by V. Felten)

 

Kristene Chapa (10/2014)
Kristene Chapa (10/2014)

 

© Chivas Sandage and Kristene Chapa 2014-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chivas Sandage and Kristene Chapa with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

14 thoughts

  1. Kristene has been an inspiration to all of us. I don’t know her personally but we have a friend in common. I have prayed Kristene and the friend that we have in common since it has happened. I have watched her grow into a young lady against all odds.

  2. Kristene is my neighbor. Just from the little i know about her i can tell she has a great love for her family. I am greatful God that she is doing as well as she is .She is such an inspiration. Reminds me that no matter whatever hardships you face if you remain strong and hold to Gods unchanging hand. He’s just around the corner to turn the situation around and prove he was there every step of the way.

  3. Words can’t begin to describe the hell these 2 girls went through. I along with thousands in the community are SO very happy that suspects have been arrested in this case. Prayer for you Kristen & for Mollie that her soul rests in peace.

  4. Such a strong and amazing your lady to overcome such a tragic thing in life. I believe in her strength for herself and others. Prayers are always going for her and Mollie family

  5. There is soo much evil in this world. What happened is beyond tragic. If I didnt believe in miracles before you are a true testament of one. Keep fighting. Keep living. That is what you are showing soo many of us.

  6. So much hate in the world I this is tragic and I pray for both families and hope she keeps on with her recovery she’s an inspiration and should be so very proud of herself

  7. You are an inspiration to girls with female partners. May Molly RIP and may you continue to be a super courageous young lady that you have proven to be. God works miracles and may this person that caused you’ll harm pay for what he did.♡♡

  8. Thank you for sharing this story. Im going to share this with my daughter in law and in return she will share it with her friends

  9. You are an inspiration to be able to hold your head up high and able to live with such a positive mind. I know god is with you 24/7 and gives you strength each day to overcome this horrible tragedy. Rest assure that Molly is watching over you also and that justice will be served to this sick minded s.o.b. May the soul of Molly forever rest in peace .. You are a courageous young lady and never fear God and Molly are always with you. God bless you and your family and to the family of Molly…I will forever pray daily that this ahole will pay and suffer. daily.

  10. i been following you since the story first broke out and i must say your such a strong person. To have gone thru the pain of loosing your partner has to be the worst pain’s =( but you having to also deal with the physical and emotional pain this hateful person caused and still you beaten every odd is just amazing. I hope and wish that you continue to get better but i also hope that where ever Molly is she has everlasting peace , may she rest with angles. <3

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