By Peggy Carroll
Christa Lassiter Lee was a very pretty, lively girl who in her teens was determined to dance on television and to become a star.
She was an identical twin, a member of a well-known Morristown family. But it was a family history tinged with tragedy. Her father and her twin, Leila, were killed in car crashes, her father when she was growing up, her sister, Leila, when she was 35.
This week, family friends and her classmates from the class of 1975 at Morristown High School reacted with shock to another tragedy.
Christa herself had been murdered at home in Cary, NC. The murderer was her own son.
According to published reports, her death was discovered when Brandon Lee, 34, called 911 on Sunday afternoon and confessed that he had killed both his mother and his girlfriend, Krystal Juell Hylton, 28.
The bodies of both were found in their homes.
Lee, who is being held without bond, told a police dispatcher that he killed Hylton because she was leaving him. His motive in killing his mother was less clear.
“My mother wanted to kill herself,” he told a police dispatcher. “I didn’t want her to do that because it is an unforgivable sin and she was trying to kill me at the same time.”
Christa and Leila Lassiter were the daughters of Dr. James Lassiter, a Morristown dentist, and Betty Lassiter. She grew up in their Ridgedale Avenue home and went to Morristown schools.
In high school, she became a fan of Soul Train, the popular long-running television program that was compared to American Bandstand. And she became determined to be a part of it.
She did that – and took her sister along.
“After watching the show from its very beginning and wanting to jump through the TV screen to be a DANCER,” she wrote in an online essay, “getting on the show was a dream come true.”
In an online Soul Train interview posted just last month, she explained she how she plotted to get to California and onto television.
She and Leila were accepted to Pepperdine University. But her plan, she said, was not to gain a degree but stardom. She found out where the show was taping, stood by the line and struck up a conversation with a regular.
When his partner didn’t show up, and he invited her to dance with him, she wrote, “it was one of the most exciting times of my life, excluding the birth of my son.”
The dream ended when her family called the sisters home after one semester.
According to her pubic postings, Ms. Lee subsequently served as a soldier in the US Army. In her Soul Train interview, she identified herself as a realtor based in North Carolina.
Classmates in New Jersey last saw her two months ago.
“She was at our 40th reunion in October,” said Tom Vogler, a family friend and classmate, “and she looked amazing. She might have been 30.”
Her son inherited her looks. And she was, seemingly, devoted to him. She posted numerous pictures of her son on her Facebook page and in her Soul Train interview she said he was a top model for 10 years and now works in sales.
Brandon Lee appeared in court yesterday and was charged with the double murders.
And Christa’s Facebook page is filled with the shock and sadness of the more than 500 people who called her “friend.”