Days before Kristi Kauffmann ended her life by dashing in front of an oncoming train, the 14-year-old Prince William County honor student painted a grim portrait of a life steeped in depression and fear that she said was caused by her adoptive father's sexual assaults.
"Have a suicidal day," read one page in her high school notebook, accompanied by a crude stick figure pointing a gun to its head.
The 50-page notebook, filed in Prince William County Circuit Court this week, contains numerous entries in which the popular ninth grader repeatedly hinted at the suicidal longings that apparently led her to hurl herself into the path of a freight train near the Osbourn Park High School campus near Manassas on April 1.
"When I have suicidal days, they are for real . . . . " said one entry. "I read in the paper once that teen suicide is catching. And guess who caught it?"
Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert made the notebook public this week and has said that he wants to use it in prosecuting Kristi's father, Paul J. Kauffmann Jr., 43, of Dale City on charges of aggravated sexual battery.
Ebert, arguing that he should be able to use the notebook during Kauffmann's trial, which is scheduled for Aug. 25, Ebert cited laws in other states that permit juries to hear statements that give insight into the state of mind of the deceased.
"The entries suggest that she was very upset over the fact that she was molested," Ebert said. "She was going through great mental turmoil."
The request is expected to be contested by Kauffmann and his lawyer, John E. Kilcarr.
"We deny the charges," Kilcarr said yesterday. "It's a girl and she's just fantasizing . . . . These entries, I don't think they are incriminating at all."
The charges against Kauffmann, an automobile salesman, were dismissed May 20 by Chief Judge Raymond O. Kellam of the Prince William Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, but were reinstated in June by a county grand jury.
The judge had ruled that testimony about Kristi Kauffmann's final words was not admissible.
"The trustworthiness of someone who takes his or her own life is fatally flawed," the judge said, noting that the girl had swallowed a bottle filled with vodka on the day she killed herself.
The notebook tells of a teen-age girl prone to bitter revulsion at her father and her school, as well as exuberant fantasies that she was a rock-and-roll star. The entries ranged from cynical, profane diatribes to eloquent poems.
"I hate Dad," said one entry. "He is an incestive, molesting jerk! I can hate him because he is not my real father. I don't know why Mom marryed him."
The last entry in the journal, written the day the girl died, was titled "A single sound."
"A single sound can be scary," she wrote. " . . . All of a sudden the doorknob starts turning. The door opens and a beam of light enters the room. Horror covers your body. You are frozen. A bunch of hair starts in the room, you scream A-A-A-H!! It is only your father. Ha-Ha!"
"Dear Diary," began an entry dated March 10. "I have decided to keep a diary because I can never get things out socially . . . . This morning I woke up crying. Not because of a dream but because of my father. I'm reluctant to write this in fear of anyone reading this, but here goes . . . . "
Prince William officials said that although Kristi Kauffmann had revealed her despair to a few of her friends, she never similarly confided to teachers, counselors or other adults.
Ebert said yesterday that his case will likely hinge on whether Judge Frank A. Hoss Jr. will allow the notebook to be used during the trial.
Under Virginia law, a statement by a defendant alone is not sufficient to convict him or her.
Police introduced in court a statement from Paul Kauffmann in which he allegedly told them that he had been fondling his daughter for nearly three years, most recently in early March.
Ebert said that he has received calls and letters from across the nation because of publicity over Kristi Kauffmann's dramatic death.
"I've heard from adults who were molested as children who called to say they could identify with the anguish she was feeling," Ebert said.
Kristi Kauffmann apparently channeled much of her anguish into rock music.
In journal entries she listed her favorite groups, including the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys. Pretending that she was a rock singer named Kristi Anarchist, leader of the Vicious Circle, Kauffmann wrote responses to imaginary fan letters.
One page had what appeared to be song lyrics. "We just enrolled in suicidal high," they said. "Our plan is to leave flying up in the sky."
Another set of lyrics was titled "Close to me."
"I've waited hours for this," the lyrics said. "I've made myself so sick. I wish I'd stayed asleep today. I never thought this day would end."