Georgia in the Pines

A suburban mom terrifies an anchorwoman and shakes up a town

As she strolled the hallways of Silver Palms Elementary on that Tuesday morning, Kristi Krueger wasn't the Channel 10 anchorwoman seen on television. She was the suburban mom, the one who went by her married name, Templin. And she was there to tell administrators she'd be bringing cupcakes to school at lunchtime for her daughter's sixth birthday.

But she felt a sense of danger. She'd just seen Georgia Roberts, her nemesis, out in the parking lot yelling at a father. She suspected she might be next. She thought Roberts, another mother of a kindergarten-aged girl, might try to sabotage the birthday. Krueger was tired of hiding from Roberts in the school's hallways, sick of the unwanted gifts, irritated at having to hear how pretty she'd been on TV, appalled by the entire fantasy world Roberts seemed to live in. This was stalking, Krueger believed.

As she walked out a doorway, there was the waifish dark-haired Roberts with anger in her eyes. "You bitch! You bitch!" Krueger says the other mother screamed at her, grabbing her arm. "How could you do this to my daughter? You are going to get yours!"

Scenes of suburban bliss for Georgia Roberts and the twins
Scenes of suburban bliss for Georgia Roberts and the twins

A school counselor, James Maisel, quickly separated the two women.

"Now you've gone too far!" Krueger yelled back at Roberts.

The incident marked a turning point in a heated war between the two suburban moms. It also set up this past summer's headline-inducing stalking trial, in which Roberts stole the show. Though seemingly driven by irrational forces, she manipulated the chaos, turned it into a game to be won. She laughed, wept, ranted, and cajoled in court -- underneath it all was a near-ferocious tenacity. In the end, it was up to the jury to decide if she was a delusional stalker or a devoted mommy. "I am like an onion. I have layers," Roberts says. "You peel a layer and there is another one. And another after that, and after that. Sometimes, as with an onion, you may cry. I can make you cry. I am raw. I am worth it."

She did make Krueger cry, especially after Roberts won the game: The jury acquitted her of aggravated stalking and battery in July. But it's not over yet. The same jury split on a lesser-included misdemeanor stalking charge, and a new trial is scheduled for December.

The obsession, the courtroom theatrics -- it's all been played out before. Roberts concedes that she seems always to be trying to relive her childhood, which was marked by isolation and death. The Krueger saga has several parallels to the last time Roberts made headlines, in 1986, when she killed her friend, Angela Puccetti, with a shotgun in what police determined was an accident. Krueger, in many ways, was to Pembroke Pines what Puccetti was to Roberts' Chicago-area high school: the popular blond everyone knew and seemed to admire, the girl who had it all. Puccetti, a cheerleader and homecoming queen, was once Roberts' ticket to the popular crowd; in Krueger, she saw a local celebrity who could take her to the social stratosphere of Broward County.

She was virtually run out of Pembroke Pines, but she won't soon be forgotten. Before she arrived, nobody had seen anything like this mad mother, this suburban tsunami, who wreaked havoc on the town and says she did it all for the children.

Georgia Roberts' life in South Florida was filled with the stuff of children: Mickey Mouse, big stuffed animals, clowns, and Santa Claus. She liked nothing better than to dress up her toddler twins, Kyle and Kylee, in cute outfits and show them off around town. All three usually wore big plastic sunglasses. "I do wear sunglasses constantly, because I don't want people to see the hurt in my eyes," Roberts explains in her dramatic way. "I've been wearing them since I was 20 years old. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul -- I don't want people to see mine."

Roberts says her existence revolves around her little boy and girl -- that their 1995 birth gave her a new chance at life. "When I wake up my children, I blow butterfly kisses on their faces or I tickle their toes," she says. "If I die in a freak accident, my kids need to know that they were loved, desperately loved."

While her twins remained constant, husbands came and went. In 1998, Roberts married a boyfriend named Ronald Fagan but a year later divorced him to marry Gary Roberts, the twins' father, who moved to the Pines from Chicago to win back his family. Considering that in the past, she'd had him arrested on charges ranging from sexual assault to battery, it was easy to predict the new marriage would be volatile.

But Gary Roberts, who worked as a reporter at the Coral Gables Gazette, embraced suburban life. Soon, he was coaching little league soccer and tagging along to kiddie events with his twins and wife, who would invariably saddle him with a disposable camera to be used upon her orders.

But he was just backup -- Georgia Roberts was the real Kodak commando. She went to events armed to the hilt with a still camera and at least one of her three camcorders, along with a backup battery in case technical disaster struck.

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