A vale of mystery surrounded Philly native Lisa Lopes' short life. Her family speaks out publicly for the first time about the strange circumstances of her death.
Eventually, Lisa returned Snow to her mother.
Other ventures, including a book, a clothing line, a doll line and a documentary began to take priority, along with a relentless search for her father that took her into the spiritual realm.
"I know she really missed him," says Jasmine. "When you're missing something, you're searching for it, and you do things that people think are odd trying to find it. Trying to find happiness, trying to fill the void."
She would sometimes disappear behind closed doors for hours, even days, in an effort to talk to her father's spirit. And sometimes, according to relatives, she believed she succeeded.
"I heard her mention it before, and also I found a letter where she conversed with my father and with Tupac, and wrote down what my father was saying," Ronald says.
"Seeing that made me understand more about why Lisa was fasting and how serious she was about her spirituality. I wish I would have known how deep she was into certain things. I would have spent more time with her. She probably felt as though the rest of the family didn't understand."
In truth, many didn't. Lisa grew up attending Third Eternal Baptist Church in Germantown with her maternal grandparents in a belief system that considers forays into the realm of the dead demonic.
Her father, according to relatives on both sides of the family, didn't have those kinds of reservations. And neither did Lisa.
"She was very spiritual, as was her father," says Lisa's aunt, Karen Fequa. "They both believed in life outside of this physical being. They believed the spirit lives forever, regardless of how, where or if it's housed."
Fequa says both she and Lisa's uncle, Charles Lopes, have had experiences that involved a presence they believed to be that of their dead brother, Ronald.
But when Lisa began to travel to Honduras and to partake of certain herbs and participate in certain practices, some relatives privately wondered if she was dabbling in the occult. Some, her mother included, believed her life was in jeopardy.
Two years before her death, Lisa's mother says she had a vision of her eldest daughter in a casket. She came to believe that Lisa would die young. She didn't know when and didn't know where. But Lisa, who had experienced visions of her own death, believed she knew the exact date.
"She didn't have it right," Wanda says. "I think as time went on, I don't think she entertained the thought anymore and she started to plan things again the last several months. She thought that since it didn't happen at the time, she thought it wasn't going to happen. And I kinda thought that, too."
Just months before the fatal accident in Honduras, Lisa began a 40-day fast, and her mother fasted with her.
"I fasted for intercessory prayer for her," Wanda says.
She pauses, then talks about how God cushioned the blow by revealing what was going to happen. Still, she says, when the accident did happen, it was eerie and sad and spiritual.
"It was like I heard that crash," says Wanda, who was at home in Georgia at the time. "That crash was in my kitchen. But I couldn't relate it to anything. I just was wondering what that loud screeching noise was. I looked behind me to see if anything fell off the counter or anything moved. I was in the house by myself, so it was quiet. I heard this big screeching crash and I said, 'What was that noise?' Nothing was disturbed. But it stayed on my mind. What was that noise? What was that noise?"
When she learned about the accident, Wanda was at once hysterical and calm. Although she'd expected it to happen, the surprise was no less real.
PW's Music Issue 2014