Over the Waterfall

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.

By Solomon Jones
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Aug. 14, 2002

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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.

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Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. Laura deAndrade-Baptista said... on Feb 1, 2011 at 08:25PM

“Just read this article; very interesting......I did not know Lisa but her great grandfather Immanuel Lopes was my Uncle (my father's brother) We are of Cape Verdean descent. I wondered what happened to her Uncle Anthony as he stopped calling me........now I sadly know he is deceased.........when she passed away, I left a comment on her memorial page.........I never heard from her camp.......I am not a "groupie" , I just want to say, I wished I had known you and I know you are very happy now resting with our Lord.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:00PM

“Unfortunately, people fall victim to what they strongly believe in. That belief can edify or destroy ones life. There are two forces operating in this world Jesus and satan. One speaks life eternal and the other speaks death eternal. It is important for every soul to seek a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and He will keep you in perfect peace and lead you in a path or righteousness for his name sake. Stay in the word of God, read your bible and lean not to your own understanding and the Lord shall direct your path. Read Proverbs Chap 4 & 5. God Bless!”

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3. Angelo said... on Jun 26, 2011 at 11:08AM

“Laura, how could her great grandfather be your uncle. Anthony was Lisa's uncle. For him to be your uncle, then you'd be her cousin, which means one of your parents is a brother/sister of Lisa's father, Ronald. For Lisa's great grandfather, Immanuel to be your uncle and for Lisa's uncle Anthony to also be your uncle is impossible. Perhaps you were not contacted by her "camp" because your story doesn't hang together!”

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4. Jane Hoffman said... on Aug 10, 2011 at 05:25AM

“I followed the group for years. I am not a "music" person but their music touched a true nerve and openness with me. I was very sad after her death. I sent her mother a rap I wrote in honor of Lisa.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jun 14, 2012 at 12:38PM

“Her dad moved to Kinston N.C my hometown i wonder who was the cousin he came down here to stay with. Y did they get into an argument and where did they stay at? because Kinston is such a historic town the house is probably still standing....Wish i knew which one it was or who they were?”

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6. Lisa said... on Aug 13, 2012 at 04:40PM

“@Angelo, You probably will never read this, but if you actually paid attention when you read Laura's post you would see she never said that Anthony was also her Uncle. She said that she'd wondered why she hadn't heard from LISA'S Uncle Anthony.”

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7. Cortnei said... on Oct 22, 2013 at 05:28PM

“I cant believe lisa died she was so pretty”

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8. Johnny said... on Mar 29, 2014 at 04:13PM

“Damn this was sad to read, and is almost chilling. I was thinking about taking a trip to Dr.Sebi's village in Honduras too myself but after reading this article I think I'm good on that and would instead get back in church, pray, meditate and try to do other things to relieve my stress and anxiety. Lisa was so beautiful, talented and had a lot to offer to the world and though her life was short she touched so many people's lives while she was here. I mean to think that it has been years since she left the earth yet she is still inspiring others, and she has surely inspired me. So with that being said R.I.P Lisa and thanks to Philadelphia Weekly for conducting the interviews and getting the information to make this great article necessary as well as not taking it down since it is so old and some sites actually would. I just know Lisa is now resting in a better place and is with the Lord. She probably even got to reconnect with her father and reconnect with Tupac too. You never know!”


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