Jessica Kingeter. Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Burgos
Jessica Kingeter. Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Burgos

The young Berkeley woman who was stabbed to death in East Oakland at the end of December loved cooking, dancing and styling hair.

Jennifer “Jessica” Kingeter grew up in Berkeley and Albany, dancing for 12 seasons in The Nutcracker at the Julia Morgan Theater on College Avenue, swimming in Lake Anza over the summer, and helping her mother with a radio show about dancing on KPFA, according to her father, in a comment on Berkeleyside.

The 26-year-old was known for her toothy smile and her warm demeanor.

“She was just a sweet girl. She was always laughing, always had that big smile,” said cousin Cindy Burgos of Georgia.

Burgos described Kingeter as “really loving and really close to her family.”

Kingeter had been working at a salon in Albany since September, said Betty Rajabi, owner of La Nana Salon & Spa.

“She was really sweet and wonderful, really smart,” said Rajabi. “I was just shocked about what happened.”

Family members said Kingeter had a passion for cooking, and wanted to go to culinary school. She was already taking classes, according to her father, Chuck Kingeter. Her last class focused on Mediterranean-style cooking, at a culinary arts program in St. Helena.

Kingeter posted a lengthy comment on Berkeleyside that included memories of his daughter.

“Our beloved daughter made us happy everyday of our lives,” he wrote. “Our loving daughter Jessica Kingeter was warm hearted, kind, loving, trusting, smart, 26 years of friendship laughter and love, long talks and walks, singing, cooking, baking,dancing, swimming, diving, reading, re-reading, learning how to sew dresses, shirts and jackets. Learning how to be a teenager, young adult, and adult, learning how to drive and the fear that came with that.! (to us parents and the car insurance!)”

He continued: “Teaching balance and equilibrium; learning how to ride a Bike! and the fear that came with that.! First boy friend and the talk about sex … Yikes !!!!”

Kingeter recalled the sound of “young voices and the pitter patter of little feet” at the Julia Morgan Theater, where his daughter danced in The Nutcracker from the age of 5, as well as The Rite of Spring and other recitals around Easter.

He also wrote of Jessica as a child, “sitting on her mom’s lap by the microphone meeting and greeting the human beings who are shaping our consciousness in regard to the meaning of dance,” as her mother, Shantee Baker, hosted a radio show, called “Dance on Air,” on KPFA Radio.

Kingeter shared a rush of memories of his daughter, and “a rich life here in Berkeley.” Swimming classes in Strawberry canyon, watching the Cal Bears, the A’s, the Giants and the Warriors (“too many games to think about right now”), the carousel at Tilden, and also “that crazy folk dance tradition” of dancing around the maypole at Tilden. A summer when Jessica traveled through Europe after high school, staying with family and friends. And Christmas dinner, last year in Hawaii, with President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

“Jessica did not leave this planet peacefully and her death was harsh and senseless,” he wrote. “Jessica made us laugh, cry and laugh she carried in her A great heart Great laughter and song But she is no longer sharing time with us here on earth …. together….. No new memories will be made, we have only the memories of when she was with us …”

Seeing photographs of his daughter, he wrote, was particularly “unreal”: “You just repeat over and over and over.. Is there any way you can come back to us Jessica cause we miss u so, so much.”

Jessica’s mother, Shantee Baker of Albany, declined to comment for this story.

“I am working on my own story about Jessica at this time,” she wrote.

Jamaal Prince of Berkeley, whom police say confessed to Kingeter’s killing, is scheduled to enter a plea in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland on Monday morning. According to his Facebook page, he was a student at Berkeley City College and graduated in 2009. He graduated from Berkeley High School in 1996.

New details emerge in stabbing of Berkeley woman [01.04.13]
Five-time felon charged with murder of Berkeley woman [01.03.13]

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...