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.
"All of a sudden it's here," she says. "That's the shock. I'm going through this. It actually happened. Lisa's not here anymore. But there was a reason for that. I mean, it's like, the Lord did this for me. I'm supposed to tell other people that he can do this for them. They don't have to suffer. They don't have to be grieved for a long period of time ... It's down in your soul, down in your spirit, that yearning is there. He knows it."
They say death comes in threes. A few months after Lisa's passing, the saying came to fruition. Lisa's uncle Anthony Lopes--a disabled Vietnam veteran who had followed Lisa to Honduras and remained there, watching over her investments--died on July 17. He joined the little boy who was hit by the car and Lisa as the third one connected to die in Honduras in a span of three months.
"Anthony lived in Orlando, Fla., and went back and forth from there to Honduras with Lisa," says Lisa's aunt, Karen Fequa. "The next thing I know, in May of 2000, he went to Honduras and didn't come back."
Initially, Anthony Lopes--Lisa's father's brother--followed the teachings of Dr. Sebi along with Lisa. Weighing some 300 pounds at his arrival, he fasted and ate the herbs that were offered in the village, eventually losing 100 pounds. But he soon stopped following the regimen and regained all the weight, Fequa says.
He died of congestive heart failure.
His death, following so closely on the heels of Lisa's, seemed odd, says Fequa. It was almost as if there was some spiritual element, some connection.
"Both my brother and my niece died in Honduras within months of each other," says Fequa, who believes that the practice of voodoo in Honduras may have had an effect on her family. "It's just a little uncanny."
Solomon Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), PW's senior writer, last wrote about storefront churches in the city.
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide