Strange brew: 'Bonnie' in California

Posted: March 25, 2008

NAPA, Calif. - The Starbucks barista's sing-song announcements that drinks were ready for pick-up could rouse anyone from sleep.

"Venti iced coffee for Thomas!" the young woman said with the intonation of a high-school cheerleader.

"Tall nonfat latte!"

The day before, the same upbeat employee had greeted each customer in the Silverado Plaza Starbucks with her trademark glowing smile and had asked, in her welcoming way and with a Sharpie at hand, "What can I get for you?"

Jocelyn Kirsch, at your service.

One half of Philadelphia's "Bonnie and Clyde" duo has called Northern California home since her high-profile arrest in December, with then-boyfriend Edward Kyle Anderton, 25, on charges of conspiracy, robbery, identity theft and other crimes.

They have a May 12 preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, although sources say that the two will face federal charges for their crimes.

These days Kirsch, 22, works at Starbucks, handling many credit-card transactions. She's also a docent-in-training at the di Rosa Preserve: Art and Nature, a hybrid of modern-art museum and nature-conservation area in Napa, about 50 miles northwest of San Francisco.

Not quite the punishment some of her alleged victims and former friends might have wished for, but not exactly la vida loca Kirsch had lived in Philadelphia.

During a lunch break last week, Kirsch strolled through the shops of Silverado Plaza. Outside the Jamba Juice, a Daily News reporter approached her and asked her to comment on her criminal case.

"I can't, I'm sorry," she said, completely composed, looking intently at the reporter. Then she walked away, oversized bag over shoulder, and made a phone call.

Cool as California.

Suburban California living, even in traffic, is as close to polite and peaceful as one can get these days in the continental United States. Folks are friendly, and "no worries" is a natural part of the local vernacular. The beautiful green mountains, a lake here and there, and rolling vineyards inspire serenity.

Its day-to-day life is almost the polar opposite of Philly's fast-paced, in-your-face living. But, in Philadelphia, Kirsch lived her dreams as a Drexel University student - including rubbing elbows with His Royal Highness, Britain's Prince Charles.

Now in California, the former Drexel senior bunks with her mother and stepfather, Jessica Eads, 55, and Michael Eads, 58, in Novato, Marin County, about 30 miles north of San Francisco.

The Eadses' white- and teal-colored ranch in the Indian Valley section of southwest Novato is worth at least $1.2 million, according to zillow.com. The 3,043-square-foot house, on an uphill street that ends in a cul-de-sac, has four bedrooms and three baths. Eads bought the 32-year-old house from his father, Charles, in 2002.

Novato - home to Birkenstock, the hippie-shoe manufacturer; tea distributors The Republic of Tea, and, next year, ImageMovers Digital, a 3-D animation unit of Walt Disney Studios - was recently named Most Affordable Suburb in California by Sperling's BestPlaces, a data-analysis Web site. The median home price is $856,000, according to Sterling's.

The street where Kirsch lives was once a chicken ranch run by the Bloom family, neighbors said. The Indian Valley neighborhood has an eclectic mix of older and new homes, some of which have tiny vineyards on the front lawns.

The Eadses moved to Novato, population 51,500, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 2003 and are "reclusive" and "private," neighbors say.

The family "pretty much keeps a real low profile," said a neighbor who requested anonymity. "I don't think anyone on this block knows him or her real well."

One neighbor, Robin Bacciocco, said she'd talked from time to time with Jessica and Michael Eads, a retired teacher who worked with handicapped students. But "since the daughter's here, things have been much quieter," said Bacciocco, who sees Jocelyn Kirsch entering and leaving the house often. Kirsch, she said, arrived back in December with her mother.

Bacciocco and the other neighbor said they were unaware they were living near a young woman who faces criminal charges and is out on bail. Yet Bacciocco said she had heard of the high-profile case. "It's a small world," she said.

The car that Kirsch sometimes uses to get to work, a cream-colored 1990 Crown Victoria with maroon interior, is often seen parked in the family's driveway.

When contacted for comment by telephone, Jessica Eads said, "No, I'm not able to comment. Sorry," before she hung up.

Anderton, meanwhile, is living back home with his mother and father in Everett, Wash.

While in the City of Brotherly Love, Jocelyn Sarah Kirsch lived with Anderton, a 2005 University of Pennsylvania graduate, in a $3,000-per-month, two-bedroom apartment in the Belgravia, a tony Center City building within walking distance of Rittenhouse Square nightlife.

She drove around in a Dodge Neon, yet managed to appear with Anderton on the society pages of Philadelphia magazine for attending the exclusive Rittenhouse Square fundraiser "Ball on the Square." No shrinking violet, Kirsch also performed in a Drexel production of the "Vagina Monologues."

While in Philly, the Miami-born Kirsch claimed to be a Lithuanian native and a speaker of several lesser-known languages, including Czech and Afrikaans. The number of languages she said she spoke varied, depending on the day and the audience.

Kirsch told her Drexel classmates that she wanted to be an international ambassador. In a way, she lived as one even before her scheduled 2008 graduation. She globetrotted with Anderton to dream vacation spots including Paris and Turks and Caicos. The dynamic duo had planned on a sojourn to Morocco this past December.

The trips were paid, Philadelphia police say, with credit cards opened with other people's personal information, which had been obtained by the duo. At least two alleged victims were their neighbors.

In California, Kirsch's travels extend to Napa for her paid and volunteer jobs, although her bail conditions do not restrict travel.

The Silverado Plaza Starbucks where Kirsch has worked since January is tucked next to a Jamba Juice; the Great Clips hair salon; Papyrus, a high-end stationery store; and local retailers along Trancas Street, one of many east-west roads that link the mile-wide Napa Valley. Three Starbucks stores are within a 1.5-mile stretch of Trancas.

Kirsch arrived at the Starbucks at 7:20 one recent chilly morning. Her mom, director of the Nursing Center of Excellence at Queen of the Valley Hospital on Trancas, just a few short blocks away from Silverado Plaza, dropped her off with the sun barely up.

Kirsch emerged from the white 2000 Buick with all the enthusiasm of a dental patient. Known for her high-end fashion tastes, that day she kept it simple. She wore black pants, black sneakers with silver accents, a black North Face fleece and an oversized black patent bag. Her dark brown wavy hair swung loose past her shoulders.

Tresses that, more than likely, aren't her own, according to the Giovanni & Pileggi hairstylist, who cops say was scammed by Kirsch and Anderton.

Back in November, Jennifer Bisicchia spent 7 1/2 hours placing hair extensions in Kirsch's hair, accoutrements that cost the stylist $2,200 out of her own pocket. Kirsch passed two bad checks to the salon while Anderton phoned in a faux credit card for the deposit, according to Bisicchia and police.

If her hair is long, then she still has the extensions, Bisicchia said. Shown two recent photographs of Kirsch, Bisicchia said she is sure her hair pulled into a bun are extensions.

"I can't believe that she's allowed so many rights considering what she did," Bisicchia said. "It's really surprising, 'cause she has a job and she's enjoying my extensions."

Meanwhile, inside the Starbucks in Napa, the former International Area Studies major ordered a drink before she went into the back of the store to put on the trademark green Starbucks apron.

Before she began to work behind the counter, Kirsch straightened up the café area. She pushed in chairs, picked up trash and tidied displays.

Behind the cash register, her voice stood out. "Good morning, what can I get for you today?" she'd ask many a customer.

Her enthusiastic smile and chipper personality kicked in for everyone.

When told of Kirsch's life in California sunshine, alleged victims of the Kirsch/Anderton swindle were beyond annoyed.

"I'm just shocked that she appears to be living guilt-free out there," said a a 22-year-old Penn alum, an alleged victim who requests anonymity. "It's amazing to me, but not surprising based on her history.

"Life goes on for her, but it's falling out from underneath her, but she doesn't show it," the victim said.

Her former boyfriend, dumped by Kirsch after she met Anderton through some mutual friends in September 2006, said her life "is kind of a shame."

"She kind of aimed high," said Drexel alum Jayson Verdibello, 22, who met Kirsch through the social networking Web site Facebook. "She wanted to be a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. . . . She's talented, beautiful and she had a lot of things going for her."

Still, he reflected, "I want to make sure the people that were wronged get restitution."

Kirsch may still aim high, but she dwells in Napa in relative obscurity.

There's a sign in the Starbucks promising a perfect drink every time and it's signed by store employees in different colored chalk.

Most staffers signed their full names in small cursive writing.

Not Kirsch.

In big block letters, in key lime green, she wrote only her first name. No last.

She made yellow chalk stripes over her name and drew three small circles over the first "o."

Her name was apart from the others.

At the bottom.

Alone. *

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