By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
By Pete Kotz
By Monica Alonzo
By New Times
It was in college that Kevin really blossomed. He lived at home and signed up for classes at a community college in California. There, he became something of a big man on campus, acting in plays, getting involved with the Student Senate, and excelling at speech and debate.
He'd always wanted to be an architect, and so after he transferred to ASU, he majored in design studies. He was into steampunk, the movement that combines Victoriana with science fiction, and he had this idea that he could become a steampunk architect. Kevin marched to his own drummer.
"We're both raving geeks," Kevin explains, gleefully.
The couple met through a mutual friend, a fellow undergrad at ASU, in May 2008.
Eva Wingren had been dating Kevin, but it wasn't serious or even exclusive. And so when Tashi invited some friends over to a watch a movie, Wingren invited Kevin to come, too.
The only problem? Wingren promptly forgot about the invitation and made other plans. When Kevin showed up anyway, he bonded with Tashi over a love of cult TV shows.
But nothing happened that night. It was only later, when they started talking online, that they both realized they were smitten.
The problem, potentially, was the friend who'd introduced them. Wingren and Kevin had been dating, after all, and Wingren was Tashi's friend. They wanted to come clean, but Wingren was out of the country for the next eight days. What to do?
Tashi insisted that they not meet again in person until they could talk to Wingren.
"That was the longest eight days of my life," she says.
But when Wingren returned to Phoenix, she gave her blessing without hesitation. "I was really happy for both of them," she says.
After that, Kevin and Tashi's relationship was on warp speed. Within two months, they were already talking marriage. Ten months after meeting, they eloped. He was 24. She was just 22.
And though the ceremony was just outside Las Vegas, it had none of the usual clichés. They said their vows in a lovely park, on a glorious March day. She wore a scarlet dress — a long, strapless number that made her look like a medieval princess — and carried a bouquet of brilliant blue irises. He wore a kilt.
The wedding was so quick that they opted against telling their families. "When we announced our engagement, both [sets of] parents said, 'Don't you think it's kind of fast?'" Tashi recalls. That reaction didn't give them much hope that their quick elopement would be welcomed with enthusiasm. Why not give their parents time to come around?
Their friends, though, were all for it. "I am not one of those people who believe in love at first sight and long-term stuff like that," Wingren says. But, by the time of the wedding in Vegas, Wingren was on board: "They'd made a believer out of me."
And that's why the events of the spring and summer of 2009 were so bizarre. Everyone knew Kevin and Tashi were great together — but suddenly, they weren't great at all.
Kevin was lethargic and unhappy. Only one semester away from getting his degree from ASU, he dropped out.
He grew angry, and even violent.
Tashi took to scribbling in her diaries. "There's somebody else wearing Kevin's skin," she wrote. "It's like Men in Black. This is not the man I fell in love with."
When therapy didn't help, she began to seriously question whether to file for divorce.
"I was getting more and more resentful because he was not getting any better," Tashi admits.
It wasn't until the last week of October that anybody had any inkling that Kevin was sick.
That week, Kevin started a new job. After months of virtual unemployment — he'd briefly held a job working nights at Circle K and, even more briefly, worked for the Census — he landed a gig selling auto glass door-to-door.
It wasn't a great job by any means, but Kevin was out of options. And Tashi just wanted him off the couch, doing something.
He made it through his first day. But on the morning of the second, Tashi got a text message from Kevin at work.
He was supposed to report for duty at 10 a.m. Instead, he wrote, "I'm not feeling good. I had to go back home. I'm feeling too ill."
Tashi responded in a flurry of angry texts.
"This is your second day!!!"
"They're going to fire you!"
"I'm sorry you're having a panic attack. You need to man up and get over it!" Her pleas were ignored.
Sure enough, that evening, when Tashi came home from work, there was Kevin, back on the couch. "Did you at least call in?" she demanded. He said yes.
"Did you drop off the mail like I told you to?" she asked. Oh, yes, Kevin replied. He'd done that, too.
When Tashi stepped into the kitchen, there was the mail, sitting there in plain sight.
She called her best friend in tears. "I can't take this anymore," she sobbed. "He's lying to my face."