Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Menendez Brothers


Lyle's first romance came when he was fifteen. His relationship with his girlfriend, Stacey Feldman, was as innocent and chaste, as the previous attacks on his cousin Diane had been perverse and sexual. Stacey managed the men's varsity tennis team at the Princeton Day School and Lyle was the number one-ranked player on the team. Their first date was to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lyle was a huge movie fan and going to the movies was, perhaps, the only experience that Lyle was able to enjoy for himself without having it filtered through his parents. Lyle seemed to have grown up completely believing to be true what he saw on the movie screen. He never seemed to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Stacey and Lyle fell in love. They walked around Princeton Day hand in hand which was against the rules. Teachers and administrators let this infraction pass because they felt that Stacey and Lyle were awkward kids who needed each other. At the end of the school year, Lyle and Stacey were voted "most married" by their classmates. Lyle and Stacey talked about getting married and having children. Lyle lavished jewelry and other gifts on Stacey. Stacey ended the relationship when she went off to college, realizing that she wanted to experience more of life and that she was too young to get married. Lyle was hurt by Stacey's rejection and tried to win her back by promising to buy her a fur coat. Stacey was not interested and Lyle moved on.

Lyle Menendez (AP)
Lyle Menendez (AP)

Jose dreamed that Lyle would attend an Ivy League college. Lyle, who was not a good student, told his friends that he wanted to skip college and open a restaurant with his father's financial backing. Jose would not entertain thoughts of anything less than an Ivy League education for Lyle.

When Lyle initially applied to Princeton in 1986, he was rejected. He enrolled in a local community college and submitted another application to Princeton for the 1987 school year. While Lyle waited to hear from Princeton, he met and began to date Jaime Pisarcik, a waitress at a local Princeton restaurant. Jaime was also a tennis player and five years older than Lyle was. Kitty and Jose did not like Jaime because they felt that Jaime was dating Lyle because he was the son of wealthy parents.

Lyle was accepted to Princeton in 1987, more on the strength of his ethnicity and ability to play tennis, than on his standardized test scores and high school grades that were just average. During the summer of 1987, Lyle and Jaime announced that they were engaged. This announcement angered Jose. At 19, Jose felt that Lyle was too young to be married. Shortly before Lyle was to begin at Princeton, Jaime moved to Alabama to teach tennis. Lyle followed her. Jose was upset by this and secretly arranged to sponsor Jaime on a European tennis tour. Jose thought that once Jaime was out of the picture, Lyle could concentrate on Princeton without any distractions. Jose was wrong. Lyle followed Jaime to Europe.

Final admission to Princeton is contingent on each admitted freshman signing a letter promising to obey the honor code. The honor code has been in place at Princeton since 1893. Lyle signed it probably thinking that any trouble he got himself into could be handled using the ways Jose had taught him: lie, cheat, steal, but don't get caught.

During his first semester at Princeton, Lyle was accused of plagiarism. Specifically, Lyle was required to complete a laboratory assignment in his Psychology 101 class, a freshman level course. Lyle was accused of copying a lab partner's homework assignment and turning the assignment in as his own work. When Lyle realized how much trouble he was in; he asked Brendan Scott, a priest and doctoral student, to assist him with his defense. Lyle told Brendan that he had missed a number of previous assignments in class and, because of this, could not afford to miss another. During this time, Lyle was traveling back and forth on weekends to California to visit his family. During the weekend before this psychology lab was due, Lyle had traveled to California and lost his notebook with his notes in the airport. Lyle asked his lab partner if he could look at his assignment. The assignment that Lyle handed in resembled Lyle's lab partner's so closely that the instructor singled it out and brought it to the attention of campus authorities.

Jose found out about the plagiarism accusation from his sister, Terry, in whom Lyle had confided. At first, Jose did not think there would be any serious consequences for Lyle. Jose sent Lyle a statement to read about ethics before the disciplinary committee. Lyle, as usual, when he was in trouble, tried to cover himself in Jose's protective cloak. Both Jose and Lyle underestimated the trouble that Lyle was in. After a four-hour hearing, the disciplinary committee deliberated for one hour and found Lyle guilty of plagiarism and suspended him for one year. After learning of the outcome, Jose flew immediately to Princeton for a meeting with Princeton's president. At the meeting, Jose argued that the punishment was unduly harsh and did not fit the crime. Jose argued that this was just one homework assignment and not a large part of Lyle's grade for the class. The president was unmoved and informed Lyle that he could return to Princeton in 1988 in good standing.

Lyle had come face to face with the heart of Princeton and failed Princeton's test. Lyle hated school and rarely participated in campus activities. He was so devoted to winning and being first that he had a difficult time just being one of many struggling students competing at an Ivy League college. Although Lyle was humiliated and wanted to transfer to UCLA, or the University of Pennsylvania, Jose would not hear of it.

During the year that Lyle was out of school, Jose made sure that he was kept busy. Jose was concerned that he was giving his sons too many advantages and creating rich spoiled brats. Jose put Lyle to work at LIVE. Lyle was responsible for reviewing expense reports and looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Lyle was treated like any other employee and had to make an appointment to see Jose.

Even though Lyle's employment at LIVE was brief, it left a deep and lasting impression on him. Lyle saw how the atmosphere in the office grew tense when Jose was around and how Jose berated employees in front of other employees. Lyle told his friends that he was resented at LIVE because he was the boss's son. The fact was that Lyle was resented at LIVE, not because he was the boss's son, but because of his lack of effort. Lyle was remembered by those at LIVE as showing up late and unapologetic for work, ignoring orders, not paying attention and skipping work entirely on warm days to play tennis. "Nasty, arrogant, and self-centered," was the way some co-workers described Lyle. Finally one of Jose's associates went to him and complained about Lyle. Jose asked the associate what he would do if Lyle was not the boss's son and the associate said fire him, so Lyle was fired.

When Lyle returned to Princeton in the fall of 1988, he continued his relationship with Jaime Pisarcik. Lyle's return to Princeton began badly when he discovered that he was assigned a roommate. Lyle wanted a single. According to the hall's student advisor, when Lyle saw the belongings of the other student in the room, he threw them in the hall. The student advisor said that Lyle had an "I'll do what I want, when I want to" attitude. Jose came to Lyle's defense. He wrote a letter to Princeton requesting a single for Lyle. Lyle was given a single and like the previous year, did not participate in any campus activities. The only outside activity that Lyle seemed to show any interest in was cultivating friendships with a group of students who were also jocks.

In February 1989, Jaime introduced Lyle to Donovan Goodreau. Donovan came to Princeton after spending two years at a junior college in Northern California. He had always wanted to travel and made his way across the country, winding up in Princeton because he was attracted to the school's reputation and the large number of people his own age. Donovan was trying to sort out his future plans. Lyle and Donovan found they had a lot in common and Donovan soon became Lyle's best friend. Kitty and Jose were glad to have Donovan around because now that were living in California, they could no longer complete Lyle's homework for him. Donovan was willing to write Lyle's papers for him, in an effort to keep Lyle from failing.

During the spring of 1989, Lyle began to date a model named Christy. Christy was 30 years old, nine years older than Lyle was. This relationship upset both Jose and Kitty. There was another issue that upset Jose even more and that was Lyle's continued desire to transfer to UCLA. Lyle was tired of Princeton, but Jose would not entertain any thoughts of Lyle transferring to another school.

After Lyle returned from spring break, Donovan was accused of stealing from students in Lyle's dorm. Rather than defend Donovan, who insisted he was innocent of the thefts, Lyle confronted him with two of his friends. Donovan was forced to leave Princeton. In his haste to leave Lyle's dorm room, Donovan forgot to pack his wallet that contained his driver's license, Social Security card and other identification.

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