The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

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The Vides family home on the Mesa is where 18-year-old Cora stabbed a Laguna Blanca classmate with a switchblade she’d recently received for her birthday. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

It was the “bad thing” that compelled 18-year-old Cora Vides to stab her friend in the neck, she confessed to police the night of the attack, a “bad feeling” that had taken hold of her and that she was “powerless” to control. Crying and covered in blood in the Cottage Hospital parking lot as her friend received emergency surgery inside, Vides promised responding officers she would tell them “everything they needed to know.”

That was among the testimony given by Officer Kelsea Shellenberger and others in the courtroom of Judge Von Deroian, who ruled this week there is sufficient evidence against Vides for her attempted murder case to proceed. Vides, out on $1 million bail, appeared for the preliminary hearing dressed in a black mask and checkered jacket and accompanied by her parents, Joshua and Patti Vides.

Both Cora and the victim were seniors at the private Laguna Blanca School at the time of the incident, mutual members of the art club and known to classmates and teachers as friendly, intellectual types who never partied or got into trouble. The victim, whose name has not been made public, suffered near-fatal wounds to her neck and throat but has since made a full recovery and is now attending college.

February 13, 2021, was like any other Saturday, Patti Vides told police, with the family, including Cora’s older sister and a cousin, spending a casual afternoon together before her sister returned to her UCSB dorm room and the victim arrived at their Mesa home for dinner. “Everything was fine,” Patti told officers.

What Patti didn’t know, what no one knew, was that for the two weeks prior Cora had been suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling that “something bad was going to happen,” Cora would later explain to Shellenberger. It manifested itself with “dizziness,” an “inability to focus,” and generally feeling “feeble.” She believed her extreme discomfort was inextricably linked to the victim and that if she killed her ― an action that was “inevitable” ― she would be released from it.

By 10 p.m. that night, Cora and the victim had retreated to her bedroom to watch TV and play video games. It was there they had a “heart-to-heart” conversation, Cora told Shellenberger. Cora, who had moved to Santa Barbara from Washington state two years earlier, confided in the victim that she had been severely depressed. The victim empathized with her, explaining her brother had also struggled with depression and that she herself had been diagnosed with ADHD. She discussed resources for help.

Cora also came out to the victim as bisexual and explained her orientation may have contributed to a recent falling-out with a mutual friend. “Ms. Vides told me that [the victim] was very nice and said she was still her friend and that everything would be okay,” Shellenberger relayed in court. By the end of the conversation, both had “spoken about things they needed to” and felt “happy and good,” Shellenberger said.

It had grown late, approximately 2 a.m., and Cora asked the victim if she would like to meditate. The victim agreed and lay on the floor. Cora covered her face with a white sweater, ostensibly to block out the light but also so that the victim would not see what she was about to do. As Cora began the guided meditation, telling the victim to think positive thoughts and relax her body, she silently took hold of a switchblade she had recently received for her birthday and stabbed the victim “directly in the center of her neckline,” Shellenberger testified.

The victim immediately grabbed the knife, and a violent struggle ensued. “She really wanted to live,” Cora told Shellenberger, explaining the victim wasn’t able to speak but tried to make as much noise as possible to alert the household by knocking over a lamp, a fan, and a clock and throwing both of her shoes against the wall.

Just as Cora pinned the victim down, and despite the trauma to her trachea, the victim managed to find her voice and said: “Go get your parents. I need to go to the hospital. I will forgive you and I will still be your friend.” Those words were enough to release Cora from the “bad thing” ― “like coming out of a dream,” she explained to police.

Cora went upstairs to her parents’ bedroom and told them she’d hurt her friend. “I stabbed her in the neck,” she said matter-of-factly. Joshua and Patti rushed downstairs and saw the victim standing with Cora’s cousin near the front door, clutching her neck and struggling to breathe. They piled in two cars and drove to Cottage Hospital, where the victim was whisked to the emergency room. 

A nurse asked the victim who had hurt her. Unable to speak again, she managed to write “Cora V” on the nurse’s arm before her handwriting trailed off. Hospital staff called the police. Meanwhile, the cousin drove back to the home and used alcohol wipes to clean some of the blood from the scene.

During her interview with police at Cottage, Patti said her daughter had no history of violence. She acknowledged, though, that Cora had recently been suffering from mental health problems. She said the family was in the process of finding a therapist. 

Much of Cora’s conversation with Shellenberger took place while she was seated in the front passenger seat of the family car, before she and the officer eventually moved to a nearby bench. Cora grew cold from the victim’s blood that saturated her clothes, and she was offered a blanket. The two spoke for more than three hours. “We had a comfortable conversation, I would say,” Shellenberger testified. “She told me multiple times, ‘It’s okay, you’re just doing your job.’”

Cora’s defense attorney, Stephen Dunkle, noted multiple times during the hearing that his client was not read her Miranda rights during the interview. It was only after she was arrested at the hospital at approximately 6 a.m. that her rights were read. Dunkle also appeared to lay the foundation for a temporary insanity defense, asking the officers to reiterate a statement from Cora that she stabbed the victim “on purpose but not consciously.”

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod. All parties will appear back in Judge Deroian’s courtroom on Friday, September 10.

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Puntag Aug 23, 2021 08:40 AM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

This women is a murderer at the end of the day! She admitted to wanting to kill her friend. She needs to do the time for this, Wasco will be the perfect place for her to really think about what she did. Her cousin should also be charged for trying to hide evidence. I am sure her parents hid stuff if that was one of the first things they did, send her cousin back home to clean!?
Definitely know these comments would be so shameful if this was another Hispanic matter, do better SB! Come out for your own too!

edney Aug 22, 2021 09:40 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

Ah. So he took the knife on his own?
We used to sharpen pencils in class with a knife and it was allowed. The school wasn't over run with stabbings and murders. I can't remeber one one the school grounds. Kids got stabbed on the weekend and/or after dark

sbsunny Aug 21, 2021 11:49 AM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

This is a bizarre and disturbing story. I think the knife is totally incidental (the attempted murder weapon could be other things). She probably had these thoughts for a long time and planned it out in her mind.

She is definitely a very very sick woman who likely needs to be in a mental institution.

Roger Aug 21, 2021 07:24 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

I remember that guy that robbed banks got into it with a cop shoot her wounding her went back to prison he was a Montecito kid.. I remember quite a few things some I posted on Edhat but were pretty much ignored..There is alot of weird crap that goes on around here and I'm glad I no longer work nights.

edney Aug 21, 2021 06:28 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

Roger,
My exact point was regarding this particular event and I compared to other similar events which is why I used the words "in this instance" right after I said "I respect your point."
This is a genie out of the bottle event, Laguna Blanca, similar to the other two.

I know of another incident way back in ancient history out in Montecito Coast Village where a fight outside a bar wound up with knockout and the guy hit his head on the curb. He saw a doctor, but not the Sheriff. 4 months later the guy died in his 20's of a blood clot in the brain. His family wanted to look into the fight, find out who etc but someone made it all go away.
Flip side, I knew a rich only child in Montecito whose parents cut him off of the huge allowance to get him off weed and coke. So he said FU and robbed banks. He gets paroled out of prison, smokes only a little weed (OK alot) parents died while he was in prison and he gets everything. House in Montecito, money every month. One morning after he makes parole he is doing the wake and bake out on the pool deck and unknown to him a bank down in the Upper Montecito Village is robbed. Cops take about two minutes to get to his house. He checks all the boxes, previous conviction for bank robbery, lives within a mile just uphill from the bank.
They show up felony stop style, guns the whole 9 yards. Clearly not him. But that was when weed was illegal, so they nicked him with the parole violation and sent him back to prison for that.

Roger Aug 21, 2021 04:56 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

Cameron Ely was high profile the police shot and killed him that had to come out...Alemada park murder? How long ago was that? 1986? Ha,ha,ha You have NO IDEA...Years ago I heard some wild shit in my neighborhood and called it in the police treated me like I was a nut case I even thought I might have been hearing things at the end of the year when the suspicious deaths and other serious crimes were printed in the paper there it was a homicide not a block from my home....There is alot that goes on in this town but alot of people get a free pass while the gang members, poor, homeless, people of color pay this is a playground for the tourists and the wealthy...40 years between homicides the sky is falling not everything makes the snooze things that doi get shut down.

edney Aug 21, 2021 02:54 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

It was all over the National news when Cameron Ely, former Harvard QB, SMHS Grad, Hope Ranch son of Tarzan actor killed his mom and then was killed by the SBSO.

Also all over the National news when wealthy white kids James Tramel and David Kurtzman, killed homeless man Michael Stephenson in the Alameda Park Gazebo.
They served 18 and 21 years in prison and Tramel made national news again when he was named a priest in the Episcopal church and yet again when he sexually abused a female parishoner who had sought out counseling

I respect your point, but in this instance where Girl nearly dies due to stab wounds in the neck and goes to ER, the Genie is fully out of the bottle, it would be impossible to cover up even for a Billionaire. Plan B is mitigate the damage and get the kid into one of the State Mental Institutions, maybe grease a few peoples palms to get them to find the kid miraculously healed at the first 5 year window.

a-1629502056 Aug 20, 2021 04:27 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

She may or may not have used a kitchen knife if the switchblade wasn’t at hand. Having held a switchblade, I can see how it has a whole different vibe to it. Just my associations, not woo-woo stuff. But that cool feel and sound when the blade comes out—it’s very different than grabbing a regular straight knife. Kinda puts one in mind of fighting, even if you weren’t before.

sacjon Aug 20, 2021 02:16 PM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

SBLETSGETREAL - was her brother involved? I didn't see that. Are you seriously blaming Covid lockdowns for this? Did you not read the part about her spending time with her friend? Did you read this at all? Surprised you didn't blame the homeless or immigrants for this..... get real.

a-1629485102 Aug 20, 2021 11:45 AM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

The “ bad thing” seems to be parents who chose to give their daughter a switchblade for her birthday knowing she was having mental health issues. Even without mental problems who gives their child a knife? So many things are wrong with this scenario. Thank god more weren’t injured.

sacjon Aug 20, 2021 11:54 AM
The ‘Bad Thing’ That Drove One Laguna Blanca Student to Stab Another

11:45 - Plenty parents give their kids knives, but not probably switchblades (not sure they're even legal). Maybe they had no idea she was suffering this emotional distress. Everyone always jumps to blame the parents, as if parents are psychic or have some ability to control every single thing their children do at all times. Even if they didn't give her a switchblade for her birthday, sounds like this young lady would have easily found something else to do this with.

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