Bianca Khalili died on Memorial Day when she fell off a balcony on the 15th floor of an apartment building in Century City. Bianca was 17 and was in her senior year at Beverly Hills High School. The tragedy occurred late at night. The only other person with her was Dora Afrahim, 18, who lived in the apartment.
Bianca and Dora were close friends. Dora told me that Bianca was like a "sister" to her. In the moments after the tragic fall, Dora went into a state of shock.
In their investigation, the police found no evidence of foul play. There were no signs of a struggle. Dora was never held, arrested or charged. The police released a statement saying that Dora was not a suspect.
This, however, did not stop the beginning of a second nightmare. This was the nightmare of a community acting out its grief through anger and accusations.
Immediately after the tragedy, rumors started to spread that Dora was responsible for Bianca’s death. Dora and her family were asked not to show up at the funeral or the shiva. People in the Persian community were saying that Dora had been arrested and was in jail. Wild speculation and angry messages started flying around the Internet.
Within days, Dora received a death threat.
Dora and her family have been holed up in their homes, afraid to face the wrath of many members of their community. On the few occasions that some family members have ventured out, they have been subjected to hostile stares and accusatory remarks.
For security reasons, Dora has moved into a gated community. She has stopped going to school and rarely goes out. The day I met her, she had a dazed look on her face. She was obviously still traumatized by everything that was happening.
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