Week of August 24, 2005

Family Matters
A killer glorified: I just finished reading Ben Westhoff's story about my niece's murder ["Dead Reckoning," August 10]. I get the feeling you're trying to make people feel sorry for the waste of life that killed her: Poor Leonardo Disdel, he had such a hard life, he was so mistreated. What an excuse for doing what he did. There are plenty of people in this world who have had it much worse than that lowlife scum of the earth. I hope the people of St. Louis give that bastard what he has coming to him.

What a pathetic waste of paper your story is. You glorify this man by spewing his problems and accomplishments, and you push my beautiful niece aside to sell papers. I hope you're proud of yourselves. Cassie was the victim here, not that monster Drisdel. Why don't you do a real story about the victim, not her killer? Find out what she was like and what this animal took from us.

I have no pity for a man who led his life as a lie, then preached to his listeners even more lies. Get it right. You don't glorify a killer and make excuses for what he has done.
Nancy Folino
Missoula, Montana

A son of a bitch, not a saint: Cassandra Kovack was my cousin. You are portraying this murderous son of a bitch as a saint, and quite frankly it is bullshit. Not to mention disrespectful to my family and anyone who knew my cousin. She was a compassionate and giving woman.

If you can find anyone in this world who could say anything other than that, even Drisdel, it would be a cold day in Hell. Quit putting this man on a pedestal.
P. Kovack
Lawrenceville, Georgia

A brother's loss: I just wanted to write to thank Ben Westhoff for his efforts in writing about my sister, Cassandra Kovack. I understand that the article was to be the whole story behind what happened that night and "the story of record," as Westhoff put it to me. But instead it turned into the Leonardo Drisdel story and oh yeah, a little about that girl he murdered and her penchant for taking in stray cats.

This is how I felt at first.

Now that I've reread the article, I see that although Westhoff did give Drisdel a bit more coverage, he made sure to point out a few things that do very well to shoot holes in his story. A history of mental problems does not negate one undeniable fact: He is a murderer.

When we spoke the Friday before the article came out, Westhoff asked me for a quote about my sister. I babbled on about her and I and how we were and it wasn't until after I got off the phone and thought about how selfish that must've sounded to mention myself in almost every sentence that I realized something: People refer to their significant others as their better half. She was more than my sister to me. She was my best half. She was My Cassie, and it's next to impossible for me to speak of her separate from me. "We" comes to my lips a lot easier than "I" when I speak of her.

Leonardo Drisdel stole my best half from me.

I don't know if it was intentional, or just how it came out, or if it's just the way a big brother reads into things, but I saw hope in the things that were told in this article. I also felt pain at reading a few things that Jon Jackson and Ralph Lucas didn't have the heart to tell us, but I'll be strong, as I have to be. Cassie would have done everything I have and more if the roles were reversed.

This will not be an easy trial. But it will be easier knowing that Leonardo's lies are already unraveling, and by the time the trial comes, the circuit attorney will have a field day with him. How can he not remember that night yet he had to remind his wife who my sister was? How can he be so afraid of knives, yet use one to attack my sister? And I'm sorry, but spousal privilege? She just told the world on the Internet.

I look at his mug shots and I read about his life and his religion, and I can only think that this is a man who is experiencing two terrifying things: One, he was tremendously religious. He's secured his place in Hell, and he knows it. For someone who was in the ministry, that's got to be the scariest feeling in the world. Almost as scary as the drug withdrawal he must have experienced the first few weeks in jail. Combine those and he's a man who's tortured internally on all levels. No wonder he has high blood pressure. I would too, with that kind of stress on me.

I feel zero sympathy for Leonardo and his checkered past. None of it equals my sister's death. Cassie was the best person I knew. I was infinitely lucky to have her in my life. However, I do feel for the other victims in this: Janene and her children. I hope they can remain strong throughout this. I only wish the best for them.

In closing, I'm thankful for Ben Westhoff's efforts. Although some may fire more from the hip, I see that he tried to give everything a side. Because of Leonardo Drisdel's actions, he couldn't interview my sister, so he worked with what he had.

Cassie was the last person I'd ever expect to be taken from this world forcibly, and Leonardo was the last person anyone would expect to kill someone. And I was the last person to expect to be reading and writing about his sister posthumously in the paper.
Stephen Kovack Jr.
Chicago, Illinois

Owing to an editing error, last week's "Soul Kitchen" B-Side mistakenly credited Joe Strummer rather than Mick Jones for vocals on the Clash masterpiece "Lost in the Supermarket."

Jordan Harper's "The Headphone Test" B-Side in the August 10 issue contained a vocals-related snafu as well, crediting Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard for singing This Mortal Coil's version of "Song to the Siren." (It was Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins fame.)

Scroll to read more St. Louis Metro News articles (1)
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.