Kristene Chapa, the 18-year-old Texas teen who was shot in the head along with her girlfriend Mollie Olgin, 19, who was killed, is making remarkable progress, having left Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital and entered rehab on Wednesday. The teen, who her Army veteran brother calls a fighter, has also improved enough to make invaluable contributions to the investigation of her attacker, helping to update the sketch of the suspect.
“She’s doing awesome,” says her brother Hilario Chapa, who marvels at the progress his sister has made. “One of the last days at the hospitals her friends were able to come and see her and she lit up.”
The tech sergeant in the Air Force reserve says doctors are going to give his sister an evaluation and are working on a timetable for her, which will help his family understand more about her upcoming medical journey.
“She’s in neurological rehab, getting her speech and her way of thinking better,” he says. “She also is in physical therapy to help strengthen her left side and mental therapy as well.”
The attack occurred on June 22 at Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Portland police released a statement on Saturday to update the state of the investigation, including the revelation that Kristine was the “eyewitness” they previously said helped with the initial sketch.
As her condition improved, she indicated a desire to revisit the drawing, the statement read. The same forensic artist worked with her again on July 13 resulting in the refined drawing.
“It is unusual to go back and refine a suspect drawing,” said police chief Randy Wright. “But in this case, our eyewitness sustained a brain injury that initially affected her ability to communicate effectively. The good news is she has made exceptional progress. Her sight and speech have improved and she can now interact with the artist much better.”
Police have previously said they have no evidence to indicate the attack was a hate crime but have not ruled it out.
Her brother says the time came to tell Kristene what they had been holding back – news of the death of her girlfriend, Mollie.
“She didn’t know about Mollie for the longest time, but we finally decided to tell her,” he says, adding that law enforcement officials were present to help with the delicate situation, along with the Olgin family. “With that support group we passed the info to my little sister. She was brokenhearted, very upset.”
Hilario says he didn’t know what to tell her. “They told us you have to let her cry. I didn’t want to tell her not to cry. But Mollie’s father (Mario) is a very good man, considering he lost his daughter. He comes to visit her and when he does she gets emotional but he is supporting her. He wants to go visit her in rehab.”
Asked about how the community has come together to embrace his sister and remember Olgin, Hilario says he’s been taken aback by the support.
Besides the WePay donation page, which has raised more than $32,000, vigils and fundraisers have been held across the country with more on tap.
There were two barbecues this past weekend and there will be one next weekend organized by a close family friend. A big event is scheduled at Brewster Street Icehouse on August 5th in Corpus Christi, which already has 180 people who said they will attend and will include a silent auction. “They’re going to donate money from 4 to 7pm for every beer and burger plate they sell,” Hilario adds.
Portland police says Kristene has been working with investigators to reconstruct the crime. “She wants very badly to help us identify Mollie’s murderer,” police chief Wright said.
There may be a real benefit to Kristene having helped update the sketch of the suspect. Hilario says he heard a story of local residents who saw someone who fit the description of the initial sketch and were ready to drag him to police.
“The community is looking for this guy.”