South African model killed on Valentine's Day
Steenkamp found dead in home of Olympian Oscar Pistorius
A week before her death, South African model Reeva Steenkamp talked about her secure, blissful environment.
"I woke up in a happy, safe home this morning," she tweeted . "Not everyone did."
Four days after she posted that message, neither did she.
The 29-year-old model was found shot to death in her boyfriend's house in an upscale neighborhood in Pretoria.
Her boyfriend, Olympian Oscar Pistorius, is facing a murder charge in the Valentine's Day shooting. Prosecutors plan to upgrade it to premeditated murder.
Pistorius, 26, rejected the murder allegation "in the strongest terms," his agent said in a statement. The track star also canceled all future races so he could focus on the legal proceedings, his management company said Sunday.
Beauty and brains
Before she started dating the man nicknamed "Blade Runner" for his lightning-fast prosthetic legs, Steenkamp was famous in her own right.
A striking, platinum-haired model, gearing up for her reality television debut.
A law school graduate, with a vibrant personality and a slew of modeling gigs under her belt.
Her growing exposure brought more opportunities. She served as a presenter for FashionTV in South Africa, was an FHM cover girl and was the face of cosmetics company Avon.
FHM described her as a "beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted woman" who had a "wicked" sense of humor.
"She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth," said Capacity Relations, the agency that represented her.
And her fame was growing.
Two days after she was killed, a pre-recorded reality show in which she appeared as a contestant aired. In the context of what transpired, her message in it now appears haunting.
"I'm going home with sort of a sweet taste in my mouth. I don't have any regrets. I don't have any bitterness. I'm going to miss you all so much and I love you very very much," she said as she blew a kiss to the camera.
South Africa's national broadcaster aired the show "Tropika Island of Treasure" showing a clip discussing her exit from the taped program. The show features local celebrities competing for prize money.
Steenkamp was born in Capetown, but moved to Johannesburg years ago to pursue modeling.
Reports say the two became an item around November and were popular in South African social circles.
About a month ago, the model shared a picture collage that included the runner.
"Some of my favorite people," she described the picture.
"As you can imagine our entire family is devastated, we are in a state of total shock," the suspect's uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said in a statement. "All of us saw at first hand how close she had become to Oscar during that time and how happy they were."
Both had big dreams, the uncle said.
"They had plans together and Oscar was happier in his private life than he had been for a long time," he said. "We are all grieving for Reeva, her family and her friends. Oscar -- as you can imagine -- is also numb with shock as well as grief."
The younger Pistorius made history when he became the first Paralympian to compete in the able-bodied Olympics last year. He ran on special carbon fiber blades affixed to his legs. He was born without the fibulae in his legs, and they were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old.
Before she died, Steenkamp sent out a message urging her thousands of social media followers to empower women.
"Speak out against the rape of individuals" in South Africa, she said in a post on the photo-sharing site Instagram. "RIP Anene Booysen."
Booysen, 17, was raped and mutilated in South Africa this month, putting a spotlight on violence against women in the nation.
Steenkamp urged her followers on Twitter to wear black the day after Valentine's to protest violence against women.
A tragic end on Valentine's
Steenkamp was looking forward to Valentine's Day.
"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she asked her Twitter followers the day before. "Get excited."
At dawn, she lay dead in a pool of blood.
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