Under the Bridge: Why Didn’t Josephine Testify Against Kelly?

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

When the details of Reena Virk’s murder in November 1997 came to light, several things about the case horrified people. It wasn’t just the fact that Reena had been beaten up so brutally or that almost all the people involved in the beating were teenage girls. What concerned the cops and the community further was that no one who had partaken in or witnessed the incident that night came forward to talk about it. Even when Reena was declared missing, and there was no sign of her for eight days, everyone, especially the girls, kept their lips completely sealed.

Once Reena’s body was found and the investigation took its course, the defenses of almost all the culprits were torn down as they started speaking about the incident. From expression of guilt to the pointing of fingers, everyone reacted as expected, except Josephine Bell (Nicole Cook, in real life). Her testimony could have made a lot of difference in the trial of Kelly Ellard, who didn’t hesitate to point a finger at her to save herself. Then why didn’t Josephine come forward to further the course of justice?

Josephine was Bound by Her Own Rule of Not Being a Snitch

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

In her book, ‘Under the Bridge,’ which serves as the inspiration for the Hulu series, Rebecca Godfrey presented different aspects of the story, one of which covered the tumultuous lives of teenagers living without any proper adult supervision. Girls like Josephine Bell and Dusty Pace were removed from their families, and while they were subject to restrictions and curfews, these rules didn’t really mean anything because the girls frequently broke them. In time, they created their own rules, which held much more importance for them, and it was one such rule that kept Josephine from testifying against Kelly.

Josephine was obsessed with the idea of mafia and criminal gangs in LA and New York. She wanted to leave Victoria and move to New York and join John Gotti’s gang or something like that. For the time being, she settled with creating her own gang in Victoria, which she named CMC, or Crips Mafia Cartel, named after the infamous LA gang. Like any gang, there are rules that the members had to follow, a lot of them unspoken. Loyalty was valued above all else, and snitching was completely out of the picture.

While the rest of the girls didn’t take the CMC or its rules as seriously, Josephine considered herself a real gangster and lived by these rules no matter what. So, when the cops arrested her and her friends for the assault and murder of Reena Virk, Josephine kept her mouth shut. While the rest of the girls were busy accepting or shifting blame, Josephine decided not to talk about it all. Soon, however, it became clear to the prosecution that they needed Josephine to speak, especially because she was closest to Kelly and would have more to say about her thoughts and actions as compared to the rest of the group.

Image Credit: Darko Sikman/Hulu

Her words would also carry more weight due to her stake in the whole thing. 

When Josephine continued to stay silent, the prosecution tried to show her that her best friend Kelly wasn’t living by the same rules. While Josephine had been protecting her, Kelly had already tried to pin the whole thing on Josephine. She failed only because the rest of the evidence was overwhelmingly against her. The recording of Kelly snitching on Josephine should have been enough to incite her into saying something incriminating about Kelly, but she didn’t. Instead, she continued to live by the rules of her gang and refused to be a snitch. But her emotions ran deeper than that.

Kelly was Josephine’s best friend. They had known each other for years, been through a lot of stuff, and stuck by each other no matter what. A lot of friends had come and gone from her life, and she didn’t have much in the way of a family. Kelly was the only constant she had. At the end of the day, Josephine believed that Kelly killed Reena because of her. To rat out Kelly would have meant tainting the friendship they had for all these years. Even if things were much more complicated now, Josephine couldn’t bring herself to be disloyal to her friend, and it was this twisted sense of loyalty that kept her from testifying against Kelly.

Read More: Is Josephine Bell Based on Reena Virk’s Real Friend? What Happened to Her?