UPDATE May 31, 2018:
Atlanta Police have announced an arrest in the murder of Bridget Shiel, a woman whose unclothed body was found at a park in Atlanta in 2016, WGCL reports.
Christopher Spencer, 28, has been charged with murder in Shiel's death. He was already incarcerated for the murder of an elderly couple during a home invasion in DeKalb County in October of 2016.
January 31, 2017:
Bridget Shiel, 19, a hair stylist and music video model, grew up in a military family. She danced ballet and even outplayed the boys on the soccer field. But Bridget was also hiding a secret from her family.
Shiel was found dead, shot seven times in a popular city park in Atlanta where families gather and children play. Investigators say Shiel was running away as she was shot on May 31, 2016.
Was someone trying to send a message, or did a secret life lead to her death?
In a Crime Watch Daily exclusive, Bridget Shiel's boyfriend Kevin Kinnie speaks about the case for the first time outside of an interrogation room.
"They said I was the number one suspect," Kinnie tells Crime Watch Daily.
Some people believe he may know more than he's letting on.
It was just before 7 a.m. when Shiel's naked body was found. Atlanta homicide detectives swarmed the area, but with no personal effects found on or around the victim, they had little to go on, other than her wounds.
"There's indications based on the autopsy that some of those shots came from a straight-down angle, which tells me she was on the ground, already likely dead, but someone still standing over her and firing," said law enforcement analyst Vincent Hill, a private investigator and former Nashville police officer. "It was overkill."
Especially when you consider the type of bullets used to end her life, designed to fragment out on impact. They are called "radically invasive projectiles," also known as "R.I.P." bullets.
"We were told that the people who use those types of bullets are definitely sending a message," said WGCL-TV Atlanta Investigative Reporter Karyn Greer. "The Average Joe on the street would not use those in a crime, and the way she was found with no clothes is also a reason that, some said, there was definitely a message being sent."
So what was that message? And just who was the young girl who met with such a violent end?
Bridget Shiel grew up in Washington, D.C., raised mostly by her grandparents, Jim and Beverly Toole.
"She was a live wire, full of energy, full of life, so much fun to be around," said Beverly Toole. "And she was very dramatic."
But even at young age, Bridget had her demons: a dad she never knew, and a mom she rarely saw.
"She got sadder as she got older," said Beverly. "She did have low-self esteem and she was teased unmercifully because of her size. Her first year of high school was honor roll, and then she started skipping school. She was making such bad life choices, hanging out with the wrong people. She was making her life dangerous, and it scared us."
So when Bridget decided that she wanted to go live with her mom more than 600 miles away in Atlanta, Beverly agreed.
"I thought it would give her a new chance," Beverly said.
And it seemed to: In Atlanta, Bridget seemed to shed her low self-esteem, becoming a model and pursuing a career in the limelight.
"Atlanta is the new Hollywood of the South. It's the new Motown," said Vince Hill. "I mean, there's a rap studio on every corner here in Atlanta. So I think she was attracted to what Atlanta had to offer, someone trying to go on to bigger and better things."
"She really wanted to find a way to be the center of attention for the whole nation, if not the world." -- Beverly Toole, Bridget's grandmother.
Then, a break: Bridget gets cast in a music video for recording artist Criss Waddle's song "Bie Gya (Open Fire)."
But apparently there were some pretty dark shadows surrounding her spotlight.
"I actually did a simple Google search and it pulled up several Backpage ads, and of course Backpage is usually used for people presenting themselves as escorts or charging for services, let's just say, and there were several ads that had pictures of Bridget in less than full clothing, presenting herself as an escort."
Ads posted under the names "Nastia" and "Spice," they read in part: "I make every encounter special," and, "I aim to please in the most desirable ways."
Bridget's grandma Beverly Toole says she doesn't think Bridget was doing it of her own free will.
"I thought that her boyfriend must have gotten her to do that," said Beverly. "I wouldn't be surprised at all that he hadn't talked her into doing that."
The boyfriend she's talking about is Kevin Kinnie, and friends apparently had a lot to say about him.
"He was older, spent some time in and out of jail," said Greer. "And there were claims from friends and the community, from others, that he was perhaps part of an underground organization, a gang. We had a couple of police reports that perhaps their relationship was very volatile."
In fact, just a few months before Bridget was murdered, she made a call to 911 that was recorded:
911: "What's the address of the emergency?
Bridget Shiel: "Um, I just need to, um, place a restraining order on somebody."
911: "Were you assaulted in any way?"
911: "And who is this person to you?"
Shiel: "He was my boyfriend."
911: "OK, hold on."
Shiel: "I don't want you to go to his house, because he said if I call the police he's going to kill me."
911: "They're not going there, ma'am."
Bridget goes on to tell police that Kinnie hit her in the face. But ultimately she declined to press charges.
Then, just two days later, police would return to the home -- not for Kinnie, but for Bridget, who was fighting with another woman. Kinnie's other woman, to be exact.
Before her death, Bridget was living with Kevin Kinnie and the mother of his child, Brittney Allocca.
"You had Bridget, Kevin and this young lady Brittney all living under the same roof," said Hill. "There's no way you can live with your current girlfriend and live with your child's mother and there not be some type of friction between all parties involved. It's impossible."
Reporter Karyn Greer says she spoke to a friend of Bridget's, who wished to remain anonymous.
"She told me she was pregnant, and I was not happy to hear that," the unidentified woman says.
"The friend said that Bridget was very afraid and, she told me Bridget didn't even want to tell Kevin she was pregnant," said Greer.
And that was reportedly just a few weeks before her death.
Police say Bridget Shiel was running away from her killer when she was gunned down at an Atlanta-area park. Who pulled the trigger?
"Despite all odds I'm still here": Those are the words spelled out in one of the tattoos used to help identify the body of Bridget Shiel, 19.
"I spoke to her the day before she was murdered," said Beverly Toole, Bridget's grandmother. "I had sent her money because she needed a place to stay. She wanted to not stay with Kevin, and go stay in a motel. I wanted her to be able to do that."
What do we know about Bridget's movements the night she died?
"There were pictures of her on Snapchat dancing, having fun and a picture before she headed out of her house that night," said WGCL-TV investigative reporter Karyn Greer.
Around 10:30 p.m., a Snapchat pic taken not far from where her body would later be found.
"She sent a Snapchat saying 'Too pretty to walk in the grass,'" said law enforcement analyst Vince Hill. "A few minutes later she calls a friend, the friend says 'Hey, she seemed fine, nothing was amiss.'"
But sometime very shortly after that, everything changed.
"After that we get a report that some neighbors watched some people escorting her through that area of the park," said reporter Greer.
"Around 11:30 she's seen at a Shell gas station in Stone Mountain, Georgia with two black males," said Hill.
Those two males are the last known people to see her alive.
"I've heard that she was at a gas station in her car, she was not driving, she was in the front seat but in the passenger side, and I've heard that she looked very unhappy," said Beverly.
Two hours after that, around 1:30 a.m., a man calls 911 to report hearing multiple gunshots at the park. And then, the gruesome discovery.
Police immediately canvass the area looking for witnesses and clues. And a day after that, Atlanta Police confirm they found Bridget's car.
"[Her car] was actually found about two miles from where she was last seen with those two black male individuals, which is actually about 20 miles from where she was killed," said Hill.
So who were those two still-unidentified males last seen with Bridget, and why were they there?
Police did question Kevin Kinnie and his other girlfriend shortly after the murder. To date, neither of them has been publicly named by police, and no charges have ever been filed.
Crime Watch Daily reached out to both people for comment. The girlfriend declined to give an official statement other than to say she is trying to put it all behind her and focus on being a mother.
Kevin Kinnie told Crime Watch Daily over the phone that he has been cleared as a suspect by the police.
"Have not heard that," said Karyn Greer. "Have not heard that at all. It's a surprise to us. Surprised -- and I want to add, I don't know Kevin, I've never met Kevin, I'm just going by things that friends and people in the community have told me."
Police are remaining tight-lipped, citing their ongoing investigation. But with all the speculation flying around, Crime Watch Daily wanted more of Kevin's side, and after ignoring our requests for months, he finally agreed to sit down for an interview, his first anywhere outside of a police station.
"Bridget really meant a lot to me, and I've seen the message that I got from you guys a couple months ago, but I didn't really know how to sit down because it was tearing me apart, and -- I don't know, I didn't even know how to answer the questions that you guys had for me, I didn't know what to say," said Kevin Kinnie.
Did the police say that he was a suspect?
"Yeah, they said I was the number one suspect," said Kinnie. "They said I was the number one suspect, they said everybody thought I did it."
What did they tell him that they had on him?
"Me being the most recent person that she was with, that's all they can tell me," said Kinnie.
"Bridget moved in with me after we came to an understanding that we both cared about each other," said Kevin Kinnie.
How did he break the news to the mother of his child, who's living with him with his kid, that he's now moving in his girlfriend?
"Straight up, just like that," said Kinnie. "It caused drama, it caused like a lot of animosity. And shortly after that, that's when Bridget got physical with her."
He's talking about an incident that happened just two months before Bridget Shiel's murder, a heated fight between Bridget and the other woman, in which police were called, and both girls spent the night in jail.
But there's also the 911 call just two days before that, in which Bridget accused Kevin of hitting her, and more.
"I don't want you guys to go to the house because he said if I call the police he'll kill me," Bridget says on the 911 recording.
"I am not aware of that. I never heard no call, I never heard any of this. I've never heard no call," said Kevin Kinnie.
"Can you show me the report? So this is real, she really called and said this?" Kinnie asked. "I wasn't aware of this. This is -- man, wow. I still really want to see that when we're done with the interview, bro, I want to see what you're talking about."
Kinnie denies knowing about the call. He does say that he never laid a hand on Bridget, and that if she did make that call -- she did -- he's not sure why. But as unbelievable as it all seemed:
What about the allegation that Kinnie was the one who actually got Bridget into the escort business? Why would he allow her to post the ads to Backpage.com?
"Well, at this time, when she was posting the ads to Backpage, this is when weren't together," said Kinnie. "It was before she moved in with me."
"I wasn't cool at all with it," said Kinnie. "That's another reason I just pulled her into my house and I just had to be with her. Like I had to take her off the streets. That's what I did."
But ultimately, the love triangle couldn't last, and after just a few weeks of the three of them living together, Kinnie says he had to end it.
"Basically, I kicked her out," said Kinnie. "I had to let Bridget go, 'cause I realized the big picture, and that was my family."
But what about those rumors that Bridget was carrying Kevin's child? As it turns out, her autopsy showed that she was not pregnant.
So what's the truth?
"I'm still not even aware if Bridget was still pregnant or not, but I'm pretty sure she was, I'm pretty sure, yeah," said Kinnie. "I'm pretty sure it was. There's no denying that at all -- I know for a fact."
What was his discussion with Bridget about the child on the way?
"It was through text message. I was with the mother of my child and I had to basically tell Bridget, like, 'I don't believe you,' like, I had to play it off 'cause I was trying to be a family man and I didn't want to lose my son, because women get crazy with these type of things."
The rumor after that is that Bridget ended the pregnancy. But it was a rumor she would never be able to substantiate. According to Kinnie, just 30 days after he "kicked her out," she was dead.
"I wish I was there, man, like, I would have took them bullets for her," said Kinnie. "All this situation is so crazy, this is really dramatic, man. That's why it took me so long to come here and respond back to you guys, 'cause I'm like, what do I have to say to you guys, like I don't have anything that you don't already know."
"She just ended up dead and I just don't get how, or why. I don't get what she could have done. I really don't. I can't think of any reason, not even one," Kevin Kinnie tells Crime Watch Daily.
But in the immediate aftermath, police had some ideas, and by his own admission, Kevin Kinnie was considered the "number one suspect."
"I highly doubt that I'm the prime suspect now, because when they called me back the second time to the precinct, and they were like 'Everyone thinks you did it.' I was like 'OK bro. I'm going to sue this whole entire situation if you put cuffs on me,'" said Kinnie. "Yeah, I'm very confident. Like, bro, I know some good lawyers, some of the top-flight lawyers in the U.S. right now, man, I wish you would put cuffs on me, bro, like I would love to call them. I would love to place this call. And they walked out and they came back, 'Sorry, you can leave.'"
Kevin Kinnie was never charged. But that's not exactly the same as being cleared, which is what he told Crime Watch Daily producers before the interview. So have police told Kinnie that they've ruled him out?
"No, but it doesn't bother me, it doesn't bother me at all. It doesn't bother me. I don't even think twice about it, I don't even think twice about being a suspect," said Kinnie.
Though we have reached out, Atlanta Police declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
But what about some of the things other people have told us about him? Does Kevin Kinnie have an affiliation with the Gangster Disciples gang?
"No," Kinnie said. "I actually don't even know anything about gangs, at all. I don't even know what where that would even come from. Yeah, that is a really disturbing question."
"No affiliation with 'G's, not at all," Kinnie said. "I haven't even run into anybody else in a gang in a while, I don't even affiliate myself with people like that."
"The only thing I know about gangs is what I've seen off the History Channel," Kinnie said.
But Kinnie doesn't deny having served time in jail, saying his offenses were all non-violent -- certainly an important distinction, considering what we're here to talk about.
Did Kevin Kinnie have anything to do with the murder of Bridget Shiel?
"No, not at all," said Kinnie. "I woke up to finding out that she got killed. I got the call and I just broke out in tears. I didn't know what to do -- it was the most craziest, out of nowhere, unexpected thing to ever happen in my life, 'cause no matter what -- this is heartbreaking to me, man -- 'cause that was the woman that I probably would have been married to."
"I would have married -- that girl would have a ring on her finger now, bro, like a very expensive ring on her finger right now," Kinnie said.
What is the mother of his child going to think after she sees this interview?
"This is nothing new to her. Nothing I am saying to you is new," said Kinnie.
Reportedly, Bridget was afraid for her life prior to her death. Who was she afraid of?
"To be honest with you, I would like to know also," said Kinnie. "I don't know what she was afraid of. I think she was afraid of life, if you ask me."
Bridget's friends say that she wasn't just afraid of life, that she was scared because of somebody else. She was afraid that someone was going to harm her, and someone obviously did harm her. Was there a person she was scared of?
"Not to my knowledge," said Kinnie. "I can't think of anybody that she was afraid of. Bridget was brave."
Was she afraid of Kevin Kinnie?
"Me? No. She had no reason to be afraid of me," said Kinnie. "Her and the mother of my child got physical. Not me."
So then who does he think did it? Why would she be naked with seven gunshot wounds in her back? What would put her in that position?
"Turning a guy down. Probably turning a guy down, that's what my assumption is," said Kinnie.
"She has a mouth on her. Bridget has a mouth on her, like she has a really aggressive mouth on her," said Kinnie. "She could be really, she can she can be really intimidating, man. Bridget can talk a lot."
But what was she doing with two guys at that gas station? Does he know who they are?
"No, I would like to know," said Kinnie. "I feel like it was a setup killing."
But why? Did she know something?
"We've got the same questions, man," said Kevin Kinnie. "Why?"
There is no shortage of theories.
"You have the Backpages ad. It could have been someone she met that night through Backpages, right?" said law enforcement analyst Vincent Hill.
Some of the reports have her family quoted as saying Bridget was now trying to escape underground sex work and she wanted to go back to where she grew up.
"And I can see that being reasonable," said Hill. "Anytime you are in that life, there's someone that you're paying in the sex trade industry, and maybe that person she was paying found out about this and said 'That's not going to happen, and I am going to use you as an example.'"
Kevin Kinnie says he's not sure about anything like that since they were no longer together at the time of her death.
"I don't know," said Kinnie. "I'm just happy to clear my name, man, that's how I think about it, the best situation is to clear my name."
"I've obviously cleared my name. My name is cleared," said Kinnie. "I'm very confident about that."
Kevin Kinnie answered all of our questions and maintains that he has nothing to do with the murder of Bridget Shiel. In fact, the only person publicly saying he was ever a suspect, is him.
For now, investigators believe the key to solving the case lies with identifying those two men last seen with Bridget at that gas station.