By Chris Echegaray
July 9, 2009
Keith Norfleet, the ex-boyfriend of the 20-year-old woman police say is responsible for the murder-suicide of Steve McNair, is relieved not to be a suspect but is mourning the woman he still loves, his father said.
"He felt he could have talked her out of it if he had been able to see her before that," said Joseph Norfleet, who is serving as a spokesman for his son.
Keith Norfleet, 24, was questioned by authorities on Sunday, the day after the bodies were found. Police said Wednesday that he is not considered a suspect.
"My first fear was that he was involved, and thank God he wasn't," Joseph Norfleet said. "Keith is still very, very sad and is going through the grieving process."
Keith Norfleet had moved with Sahel "Jenny" Kazemi from Jacksonville, Fla., where he lived with his sister, nearly four years ago, family said. They started out with odd jobs before he settled into a position at White Castle. Kazemi worked as a waitress at several establishments before landing a job at Dave & Buster's in Opry Mills, Joseph Norfleet said.
The pair worked hard but had their share of arguments, Joseph Norfleet said.
"It was a stormy relationship," he said. "But Keith loves her."
Couple broke up
Keith Norfleet and Kazemi moved in together at an Arbor Lake Boulevard apartment in Hermitage. They often argued, leading to quarrels in the parking lot, according to witnesses. They eventually moved out and went their separate ways.
About six months ago, Kazemi started a relationship with McNair, the former Titans quarterback. Norfleet has said he wanted to get her back.
"I had a father-and-son talk with him and told him, 'You are going to have to let her go, son,' " Joseph Norfleet recalled. "Their relationship had diminished when she started seeing Steve McNair. But her and Keith stayed in touch."
Keith Norfleet made it known he was not happy with her relationship but they would text, call and visit each other, his father said.
Soon after it was announced that McNair and an unidentified woman were found dead at a downtown condo, Keith Norfleet and his family went to her Hermitage apartment. They also went to speak with police, Joseph Norfleet said.
Keith Norfleet and his father are not close, Joseph Norfleet said. His son moved to Jacksonville years ago and dropped out of high school but got his GED.
Keith Norfleet met Kazemi in Jacksonville, where her family had moved in 2002 after leaving Iran and briefly staying in Turkey. He and Kazemi moved to Nashville before her 17th birthday, spending Christmas with his family in 2005.
"She had an innocence about her," Joseph Norfleet said. "We considered her part of the family. I really don't see that young girl doing that."
Metro police said Wednesday that Kazemi shot McNair four times before turning the gun on herself.
Norfleet goes into hiding
Sadness over the loss of his ex-girlfriend and public backlash stemming from lyrics to a song he wrote drove Keith Norfleet into hiding.
His father said Keith Norfleet received hateful e-mails and vitriolic comments at a rapid clip after rap songs he recorded turned up on the Internet. One song is eerily similar to the events of July 4: a song called "Closed Casket," where he raps about a cheating couple and putting bullets in both their heads.
But Keith Norfleet said, through family, that the song had nothing to do with his ex-girlfriend and McNair.
The song, his sister Crystal Norfleet said, was about her own relationship after she was cheated on.
"Music is an outlet for him," Crystal Norfleet said. "He puts his emotions on pen and paper, and that's where they stay. … He never wrote that with Steve and Jenny in mind."
With authorities confirming the murder-suicide scenario, Norfleet's involvement in the case should be put to rest, Joseph Norfleet said.
A funeral for Kazemi is set for
2 p.m. Friday in Jacksonville. "I told Keith I don't think he should go," Joseph Norfleet said.
Contact Chris Echegaray at 615-664-2144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.