“Yeah, I know,” Tiesha told Forde. “I’ve thought about it, and this is the man I love. As long as he’s not disrespectful to me or the relationship, I’m good. I’ve told him that.”
Other people close to Tiesha expressed doubts about Keve as well. “They didn’t know why she was with him,” says Natalie Swaby. “People would say he didn’t have any money. A guy I was seeing met him, and the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘What is she doing with him?’ I said, ‘She likes him. Not everyone has to drive around in a Benz to impress someone.’ ”
One thing everyone knew about Tiesha was that it was in some ways a point of pride for her to be dating someone who, like Keve, didn’t look good on paper. “I think she had blinders on,” says Ivan Thornton. “She knew he wasn’t the best egg, but she thought she could handle anything that came her way. She was accepting of him.”
On December 15, 2005, not long before she moved in with Keve, Tiesha had a networking lunch with a black Brearley alumna and Simon & Schuster editor named Cherise Davis. “I expected to talk about publishing,” says Davis. “But it turned into a conversation about this guy. She was obviously smitten by him, but she wanted my opinion about certain things. He had a child, and so she was talking a little bit about that.”
The more Davis heard, the less she liked the situation. “I was like, ‘Who is this guy? You’re 25. Leave the love thing alone.’ I had met this nice banker with Morgan Stanley. I said, ‘Hmm, I could set you up with him.’ But she said, ‘Oh, guys like that just aren’t interesting.’” Sometimes the guy on the block is what’s sexy to you, Davis says. “Sometimes you’re just looking at a person and how he makes you feel. It’s not good or bad. It’s just real life.”
The advice she gave Tiesha that day was specific. “What I remember telling her is, it is very easy, being Brearley girls, to come in and do a fix,” she says. “To be that person who comes in and types the letters and makes the phone calls. It’s very tempting. You should let him figure it out for himself.”
Tiesha’s father met Keve in November. Keve and Tiesha weren’t living together yet, and he was coming by to pick her up.
“You’re Keve, you’re my daughter’s boyfriend?” Henry recalls saying.
“Yes,” Keve answered.
“Do you plan to marry my daughter?” Henry asked.
What Keve said surprised him. “Yes, sir, I do. But I don’t think she wants to marry me, because right now I’m afraid to ask her. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would marry me.”
“I got the impression that he was genuinely intimidated by my daughter,” Henry says, “and he was speaking the truth.”
Henry thought about it for a second, then shrugged. “Give it a shot,” he said, smiling.
Tiesha and Keve moved into the Bedford Avenue apartment in March and threw a housewarming party in April, not long after Tiesha’s 26th birthday. The friends who came hadn’t seen her in a while. At least one was appalled by clouds of pot smoke, but Tiesha seemed more content than ever. “Once she moved in with him, it was hard to get her,” Natalie says. “A few months before she passed, she missed a big brunch we were all having. I figured she was just in love and she’d reconnect with her friends soon.”
The day before she died, Natalie called Tiesha to catch up. “You could hear the smile through the phone. ‘Everything is so good, Nat. We have to go get drinks.’ ”
Police arrived at Keve and Tiesha’s apartment at about 1:30 A.M. on Sunday, May 14. Keve was there, his shirt covered in Tiesha’s blood. The officers found three ounces of pot in the apartment and a .380-caliber gun in the backyard and took Keve in for questioning. Detectives say Keve admitted to selling $6,000 in pot in the apartment earlier that Saturday. Police arrested Keve on possession charges, but released him on bail; he says he passed a lie-detector test administered by his lawyer, but he hasn’t submitted to a police polygraph. Two months later, detectives are still working on the assumption that the killers are connected to the drug deal; whoever broke into the apartment, they believe, knew that there was something inside worth taking.
Some of Tiesha’s friends think they know what happened during the break-in: The Loud-talking Black Woman put up a fight. “Tiesha had a mouth on her,” says one friend. “She could talk some trash. ‘Who the hell are you? Don’t come to my house.’ I’m sure she sliced the guy up. Belittled him. And he’s the guy who took her out.”