MIAMI — On one occasion last year, Christian “Toby” Obumseli claimed, he was stabbed in the leg so badly that he could barely walk. A day later, he said he was hit in the head hard enough that he believed he suffered a concussion.
Finally, in late January, Obumseli suffered two nasty cuts to the cheek and chin, wounds he documented in photos and that were severe enough that he went to the hospital for stitches.
Newly released text-message conversations from Obumseli’s iCloud account reveal that he said his attacker was his girlfriend, OnlyFans model Courtney Clenney, who on April 3 would fatally plunge a knife into his chest during yet another heated argument inside their luxury Miami apartment. The texts, now evidence in the murder case against Clenney, also reveal that weeks before his death, Obumseli agonized in a message to her about being subjected to her racial slurs and spiraling violence.
“Is love going to kill me?” Obumseli wrote to her, adding: “February was the worst month I had so far. I got cheated on. I got called that word again. I got slapped in my stitches that has re-opened multiple times and it’s not healing fast enough.”
Clenney, 26, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Obumseli, a case that has garnered worldwide attention because she was an influencer with millions of followers on Instagram and OnlyFans, where users make money posting explicit content.
Prosecutors could present the evidence depicting Clenney as a violent abuser to a Miami-Dade judge in the coming weeks, as her defense attorneys go to court to seek her release on bond while she awaits trial. No date had been set for the hearing.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, in announcing Clenney’s arrest in August, described the model as the abuser in a stormy, on-again, off-again relationship. Clenney’s attorneys insist she fatally stabbed Obumseli in self-defense and that she was the true victim of domestic abuse.
Her defense attorneys, Frank Prieto and Sabrina Puglisi, said the evidence released by prosecutors “is a one-sided snapshot in time. It’s not the whole story.”
They said in a statement: “It’s missing context. The most sensational pieces of evidence are being cherry picked by reporters, without proper context, to feed the public’s curiosity with this case. What is clear to us is that the evidence shows the extreme emotions and dysfunction of a relationship off the rails.
“As we prepare Courtney’s defense for trial, we are currently piecing together all of the evidence, so the jury may understand the totality of the situation when it is presented to them at trial. Also, the majority of the records released so far have come from Christian’s cellphone. There is another side to this we look forward to presenting in court.”
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This week they also pointed to Miami police body-camera footage, released last month, in which Clenney — days before the killing — is seen saying Obumseli was stalking her and asking for a restraining order. He was not arrested in that case.
“These salacious headlines are distracting from the real issue. This is about the action she took that day to save her own life. It’s not about recordings, text messages, or previous fights,” the lawyers said in their statement. “Courtney is the victim of domestic violence and we believe she was failed by the system as she repeatedly asked for help.”
Clenney and Obumseli, who moved to Miami from Texas in January, had a notoriously tempestuous relationship — neighbors in both states repeatedly complained about their loud arguments.
The Miami Herald obtained the text messages, which were recovered by Miami police as part of the homicide probe, via a public-records request. Also obtained were photos taken in the hospital of Obumseli’s wounds.
The State Attorney’s Office earlier this month also released secret recordings — first reported by the Herald — made by Obumseli chronicling Clenney’s raging outbursts and her using the n-word against him in the months before his death. In August, the state released video footage, also from before the killing, of Clenney attacking him in an apartment elevator.
An attorney for Obumseli’s family said Thursday that the text messages and the recordings revealed Clenney “terrorized his life” and she was not acting in self-defense. He said the family is planning to file a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Clenney.
“It’s a clear pattern of her being unhinged and out of control,” Miami attorney Larry Handfield said. “She was a threat and has demonstrated a pattern of violence and clearly, that fateful day, it came to an end.”
The state released three text-message exchanges between Obumseli and Clenney.
The first was from October 2021, when they still lived in Texas. As they argued about Clenney having taken his phone, Obumseli recounted to her that she stabbed him in the leg and it hurt so bad he “couldn’t f—ing walk.”
In another text, he wrote “the next morning I still woke up happy I still gave you a good day even though my leg was hurting because my girlfriend stabbed me.” He added: “Did I make you feel like s— for stabbing me? No just sucked it up and hoped tomorrow will be better.”
The next day, in another text exchange, Obumseli recounted Clenney spitting on him and “pounding her phone” on his face and on the back of his head. He pleaded with her to open the door to their apartment so he could lay down on the couch. “Now I have a lump. I’m bleeding. Throwing up — I think I got a mild concussion and have anxiety. I slept in the restroom for two hours and I’m just lost beyond words.”
Five minutes later, she replied: “I’m sorry for hitting you in the face and the back of your head and spitting on you. Is it right? No. You just Piss me (sic) tf off, but still love you.”
Then on Jan. 30, after they’d moved to the One Paraiso apartment building in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, their text messages reveal they planned to buy “blow” — street slang for cocaine. In the early evening, as he was at a bar watching a football game, they began arguing over the tone of their text messages to each other. She got upset because he answered “Yes, Courtney?”
“‘Yes, Courtney is unnecessary,” she wrote, according to the text messages. “I continue to have to explain to you how to act.”
What exactly happened when they finally met up in person is unclear. But later that night, Clenney wrote “Hopefully this will give you time to think about your actions” and “enjoy the hospital.”
Obumseli had suffered the two gashes on his face and was on his way to seek medical attention. “Tell them your side then I’ll tell them what happened,” she wrote.
He wrote back: “I’m not saying anything” and “Ima say Football incident.”
Later that night and the next day, according to the texts, he messaged her repeatedly, decrying “getting stabbed multiple times.”
“I was in the hospital looking forward to seeing you and you go drink and leave with someone? when you bf is passed out on the bed getting stitched up Bc I lost to much blood.”
Days after the stabbing, Clenney texted a series of profuse apologies.
“I love you so much Christian. I should have been at the hospital with you and i should have slept next to you i always have,” she wrote, adding later: “I feel extreme regret, sadness, and humiliation and I am so, so sorry for hurting you.”
The text messages reveal abuse that is common among abusers, said Denise Hines, a George Mason University social-work professor who researches male victims in domestic-abuse cases. She said men, particularly Black men, are often hesitant to report physical violence by their female partners because they are afraid their abusers will instead blame them, resulting in their arrest.
Clenney’s swings via text — from outbursts to professing love — show Obumseli fell for what researchers call a “traumatic bond,” Hines said.
“These kinds of moments are intensely rewarding and reinforce the notion that she’ll change. It shows the person you fell in love with,” said Hines, who is not involved in the case.
Clenney and Obumseli stayed together, the texts reveal, but tensions persisted. It was on Feb. 26, weeks before the fatal stabbing, that Obumseli sent a long text agonizing about the crumbling relationship and the racial slur. “Your boyfriend is black and you’re calling him that. Your boyfriend isn’t dirt why are you spitting on him,” he wrote.
He wondered what would have happened had the knife wound been higher than his chin.
“My cheek? My eye? What might happen next time,” he wrote. “I pray there is no (next) time like that.”
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