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Kiki Kannibal: The Girl Who Played With Fire

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The deal didn't last long. One night in November, Danny was at the Ostrengas' when he started acting strangely, staggering around as though in a dizzy fog. "He was really off, he was drunk or something, and he passed out," says Kiki. Her parents, unsure of what to do, decided to let him sleep it off on the couch. In the middle of the night, Danny crawled into Kiki's bed. "Baby, do you love me?" he asked, reaching into her underwear. Kiki squirmed away. She did love him, but she didn't want to sleep with him. And yet, no matter how many times Kiki told him "No" — at least 10 times, by her count — Danny persisted. The more he groped and pressured her, the more juvenile Kiki felt for denying him. She was tired of fighting him off, and she could see he wasn't going to take no for an answer. The moment Kiki stopped resisting, Danny forced himself on her.

Afterward, Danny was tender, whispering to her in Spanish — Kiki didn't understand a word — and telling her how much he loved her. He also warned her not to tell her parents, saying, "If your mom found out, we wouldn't be together." Kiki was awash in shame; she felt betrayed and deeply violated by what Danny had just done to her. At the same time, she didn't want to lose him. So she kept quiet and continued dating him, including submitting to sex. "It was always, 'If you don't do this, you don't love me,'" Kiki recalls, breaking down in tears. "I kind of pretend like it never happened."

By this time, it was dawning on Kiki's parents that something wasn't right about Danny. One clue was when he showed up with a batch of new tattoos: Kiki's face on his shoulder, "Kiki" across his stomach, and on his ankle, a Hello Kitty holding a balloon with the name "Kirsten." The Ostrengas were alarmed, but Cathy had heard enough about Danny's chaotic home life to make her feel sorry for him. She knew that his 29-year-old sister, Rosa, had been convicted of armed robbery and had just emerged from prison after eight years. Danny had also recounted how at age four he had seen his father chase his mom with a gun. He told them his dad was no longer in his life. What Danny didn't say was why his father had left: He'd been deported to his native Peru after being convicted of sexual battery of a minor. The child had been under the age of 12.

"I felt bad for Danny," says Cathy. So she let him stick around, reassuring herself that it wouldn't be for long, since Danny had told them that he and his mom planned to move to North Carolina soon. Anyway, he seemed to make Kiki happy.

Danny's family didn't like his hanging out with Kiki. He would often return home wearing Kiki-applied eyeliner, nail polish and hair highlights, upsetting his mother. Lourdes Cespedes would call Cathy and scream, "He looks like a fucking faggot!" She insisted that the two kids stop seeing each other. But Danny kept coming back, telling the Ostrengas through tears that he couldn't spend another minute living with his mother. Cathy and Scott decided he had worn out his welcome but couldn't seem to figure out how to kick him out. When they asked him to leave, he'd throw tantrums and cry. Then one night his ex-con sister, Rosa, called the house, furious that Danny was there despite their mother's orders to stay away. "You and your daughter, you ain't gonna be around no more!" she threatened Cathy. (Through their attorney, both Lourdes and Rosa declined to comment.) The Ostrengas called the police, but the cops did nothing. "If she shows up at your house," they said, "call us."

Tired of the drama, Kiki was beginning to agree with her parents: It was time to break up with Danny. She met him in her driveway and gave him back his Power Rangers. Danny, crying hysterically, responded by pulling out a handful of pills: Excedrin, weight-loss pills, painkillers. "Danny, don't do that!" Kiki screamed as he swallowed them all, roughly pushed her away and sped off in his car. Sobbing, Kiki ran inside to call the police. Danny survived the suicide attempt — he was hospitalized nearby — but Kiki was too scared to break up with him again and continued seeing him behind her parents' back. "I felt so responsible," Kiki says. "If he died, I didn't want that on my shoulders." At the same time, she was flattered at being wanted so much, at being so demonstrably loved. But a month after Danny told Kiki they'd be together forever, he moved to North Carolina. Soon after, she received a message on MySpace alerting her that Danny, now a few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, was dating a 14-year-old.

Kiki was crushed, but the worst was yet to come. Over the next few weeks, she received e-mails from a string of girls, ages 13 to 15, telling her that Danny had seduced and then swiftly dumped them, too. Kiki looked at one girl's MySpace page and found a comment from Danny: "You have really soft lips hehehhe."

Ultimately, Kiki says, she discovered that she had been the fourth of 18 young girls Danny had pursued, including a 12-year-old; he usually sought them out via MySpace, just as he'd found Kiki. "That's when I realized: That's what he does," she recalls. "I felt used."

Kiki stopped eating and taking care of herself. She dwindled down to a skeletal 72 pounds. Cathy sensed something was seriously wrong with her daughter. "What is it?" she asked. "Did he do anything to you?" Kiki didn't answer. "Did you have sex with him?" Cathy persisted.

Tears streamed down Kiki's face. "Yes," she whispered.

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