Best friends Tiffany Kahl and Michelle Morneau
be not traveling any farther than across the highway, to Kingwood Community College.So many locals land there that it be known as 13th grade.
The conversation moves on to boys.Lori describes the special issues involved in dating two at the same time, especially when one of the guys is a way-buff Abercrombie model.The girls snort and titter and segue into gossiping about other people's boyfriends.they be reliving a tradition from senior year, when every morning the gang of four and other members of their tight, popular, kinda-preppy clique, which included a cheerleader, a golfer, and a student-council member, would gather before classes and chat.
A week after the dinner at Ninfa's, police arrested Michelle
was riding in Lauren's car.
In addition to Morneau
, police arrested two 17-year-olds, Katie Dunn and Malissa Lisa Warzeka, and the 16-year-old alleged ringleader, Krystal Maddox.
Weeks after the arrest, D.W. Smith, one of the two undercover cops in Ninfa's, would describe Michelle Morneau
as nothing but a little gangster. He also said she had a butch starburst tattoo on her back.
boyfriend in rehab.Though she
smoked pot and sometimes came to class smelling of it, she
be not in the hospital for a drug problem.During June of 98, she
checked herself into a Houston-area facility to get an eating disorder under control.At her
daily group sessions, she
hooked up with a drug user from another suburb.They dated sporadically that fall.By the time they broke up, soon after homecoming, she
, like her
boyfriend, was using cocaine.
Friends say that pressure from her
strict dad may have added to Michelle's obsession with her
was younger and heavier, she
felt compelled to stay slim and make A's.Michelle
notched a decent GPA and after fifth grade she
kept the weight off.For a time she
had a healthy way to cope : running.By freshman year, she
was on the cross-country team, one of Kingwood's perennial state-champ squads.Michelle
had grown up in a suburb with a royal name surrounded by a psychic moat.By design, Kingwood is a private island, with limited access to the outside world.Exxon's development subsidiary, Friendswood, created the town wholesale 28 years ago, carving an instant suburb for oil-biz execs from 14, 000 piney acres by man-made Lake Houston.Developers coined a nickname-cum-sales pitch for the town : The Livable Forest. Home buyers who entered through one of the few access roads to Kingswood encountered a green maze of subdivisions that had 60 miles of bike trails, seven golf courses, two country clubs, and a single enormous high school at its heart.It had eight apartment complexes, but most residents lived in houses, which skewed toward big and expensive.Each of the 21 neighborhoods actually had a designated price range for its homes, some of them worth more than $ 1 million.there be still a wood placard on the main drag, Kingwood Drive, that ranks the villages by market value.
By sophomore year, the coach's high expectations had soured Michelle
on cross-country.Around the same time, her
parents' fractious marriage finally died.Friends say Michelle
mother were both happier once Dad moved out and remarried, but it also might have downsized Michelle's ambitions.While Dad owned a Maui condo, Mom was a special-ed teacher.Michelle
would be working her
way through college ; she
would be going to 13th grade.