There’s only one person who knows exactly what happened shortly before 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 3, to leave Christian “Toby” Obumseli dead from a stab wound — and according to her lawyer, that person is back home in Texas with her parents, grieving the loss of her boyfriend, and recovering from the ordeal.
In the weeks since then, certain details, at least, have become clear: After 26-year-old OnlyFans model Courtney Clenney stabbed Obumseli, 27, one time in his upper chest inside apartment 2201 at Miami’s luxury waterfront highrise One Paraiso, she called 911. The Miami Police came, and restrained Clenney’s hands behind her back, according to a shaky video shot by a neighbor with a view through her apartment’s floor-to-ceiling windows. In the aftermath, Clenney sat on the floor, her light-colored sweatpants covered in a dark stain, while one of her dogs licked her face. According to Clenney’s lawyer, Frank Prieto, she had become soaked in Obumseli’s blood while trying to revive him. “She tried to administer first aid as best she could; she called 911,” Prieto tells Rolling Stone. “She got covered in his blood trying to save his life.”
Prieto says he joined Clenney at the police station that night, adding that she gave officers a statement voluntarily, during the course of which she said something that led them to believe she might harm herself. “I thought it was best to make sure she was OK, and [the police] spoke to me about ‘Baker-Acting’ somebody, which is an involuntary commitment to the hospital,” Prieto says. Clenney was admitted, then discharged less than 48 hours later. She soon returned home to Texas.
In a public statement released four days after Obumseli’s death, police called it a “domestic violence incident,” and said the couple had been involved in a “physical altercation.” The Miami-Dade County medical examiner confirmed to Rolling Stone that they had ruled the death a homicide. No arrests have been made, and the police will say only that an investigation is ongoing. In the meantime, two narratives have emerged.
The first is from Clenney’s camp: According to Prieto, Clenney admits to killing Obumseli, and claims that she is a survivor of ongoing domestic violence who acted in self-defense. He says he knows of a witness speaking to the police who saw Obumseli hit Clenney, and he points to a TV news segment where an anonymous neighbor of the couple said he saw Obumseli “swinging at” Clenney in their apartment the week before Obumseli was killed. Prieto says Obumseli had attempted to choke Clenney, and that’s why she stabbed him. “Christian was committing a crime, and she had every right to defend herself,” Prieto tells Rolling Stone. “This is not a whodunit. It’s unfortunately a case of self-defense. And she feels horrible.”
Obumseli’s family has argued that the attack by Clenney was unprovoked, that Obsumeli was never abusive toward his girlfriend, and that Clenney is receiving preferential treatment from law enforcement because she is a white woman. They also claim detectives have treated the family of Obumseli, a Black man, dismissively. “They indicated they’d closed their investigation less than 24 hours after [Obumseli’s death],” says Larry Handfield, a lawyer for Obumseli’s family. He says that after he set up a meeting with the State’s Attorney, the police agreed to investigate further. (Miami police have not responded to a request for comment.)
“This is not a whodunit. It’s unfortunately a case of self-defense. And she feels horrible.”
Now, friends and others who knew the couple have come forward to Rolling Stone, saying they feel compelled to challenge Clenney’s story. Together, they paint a picture of the relationship in which Clenney was physically abusive, and Obumseli sought to appease her and calm her down. “The reality is we did see a lot of domestic violence, and it was on her end,” says one friend who knew the couple when they lived in Austin.
Reporting also suggests Clenney abused substances and had allegedly been violent toward at least two other men before Obumseli. Prieto acknowledges the alleged violence in Clenney and Obumseli’s relationship could have gone “both ways,” but he says that doesn’t change her claim of self-defense in his stabbing.
Clenney also appears to have a habit of joking about being “the toxic girlfriend.” In March 2022, she appeared on the comedy podcast We In Miami where she talked about how she only dates “Black guys,” then clarified that she meant to say she only dates “rich Black guys.” At one point, the host said “Raise your hand if you think you’re toxic,” and Clenney’s hand shot up. “She knows,” joked the host.
On Instagram, Clenney posts as Courtney Tailor, with bleach blonde extensions and a girl-next-door smile. She shares bikini photos from Tulum vacations and boudoir photoshoots in barely-there lingerie with her 2 million followers. On OnlyFans, where her wall posts get hundreds of likes each and one fellow influencer says Clenney made enough money to rent an apartment for $10,000 a month, her bio reads “Full-time fitness model and foodie living with my 2 dogs, Jesse and Ranger. I just moved to Miami so I need your positive vibes!” Her social media has been dormant since the day of the stabbing, and her lawyer declined to make her available for an interview saying she’s not in a good place right now.
However, Clenney’s lawyer says her braggadocio is in line with her OnlyFans persona and doesn’t represent the real Courtney. “Courtney is a different person than Courtney Tailor,” Pietro says. “That’s her persona, making comments like that. It’s the theater of it, the show of it. It’s not her true self.”
The friend from Austin, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid online backlash, says she believes the couple started “talking” during the second half of 2020, when they were living in the city. The friend had met Obumseli earlier that summer, through a mutual friend, and recalls he fit in right away with her social circle. “We all hit it off with him,” she says. “He had been like a best friend ever since.” She describes him as someone who was always cracking jokes, always the life of the party, with a “bright personality.” She also says he had a strong religious faith and they’d shared deep conversations.
She became friends with Clenney shortly after meeting Obumseli, she says, although she knew of her before then from the nightlife scene in Austin, where Clenney was known for her success on OnlyFans. The friend felt some trepidation seeing Obumseli getting serious quickly with Clenney. Clenney was also known for partying, she says, and had two DWI arrests in the state, the second of which happened that September and the case for which is still pending. (In 2015, when she was just 18, she had her first, and was sentenced to three days in jail.) The arrest warrant from the 2020 incident shows she crashed a white Mercedes Benz into another car a few miles from the riverfront apartment complex where she lived at the time. Cops found a partially empty 750 ml bottle of Espolon tequila in the front seat. On a roadside breath test, she registered a blood alcohol content of .300, more than three times the legal limit. Prieto declined to comment on the DWI arrests, “not because I’m trying to hide anything — I don’t know,” he says. “I have not talked to her about those matters and it’s not really relevant. But are there signs of substance abuse? Yeah. I mean, I would have to agree with that.”
“The reality is we did see a lot of domestic violence, and it was on her end”
Beyond signs of substance use issues, the friend claims Clenney attempted to stab an ex-boyfriend who is another close friend of hers, although she refuses to identify him. (Clenney’s exes that Rolling Stone was able to independently identify did not respond to requests for comment. ) However, Handfield, the attorney working with Obumseli’s family, says he connected with an ex-boyfriend who alleges Clenney tried to stab him “on two occasions.” Handfield says the ex has spoken to an investigator at Handfield’s firm, and that he’s passed this information on to prosecutors in Miami, where he hopes Clenney will soon be arrested. Prieto says he believes the allegation that she tried to stab an ex is “absolutely false.”
One of the stranger stories circulating about Clenney’s alleged history of violence is that Clenney may have broken the jaw of professional bodybuilder Shawn Rhoden. On April 12, bodybuilder Nick Trigili posted a video on his YouTube channel, Bodybuilding and BS, which has 45,000 subscribers, where he claimed Clenney and Rhoden had been romantically involved while Clenney was training at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California. Trigili further claimed that in 2017, when Clenney learned Rhoden was married at the time, she hit him with an “uppercut” that “shattered” his jaw. Trigili added, “This is all allegedly, right, hearsay, but I have a lot of people confirming this.” (Rhoden died from a reported heart attack last November.)
Trigili told Rolling Stone by email that he’d heard this claim directly from Rhoden himself, whom he considered a close friend, as well as from two of Rhoden’s ex-wives. While Trigili initially agreed to an interview, he subsequently stopped responding to communications. Aspects of this claim are still verifiable, however. In the fall of 2017, Clenney posted pictures of herself competing in fitness competitions. “My first NPC bikini competition,” said a caption from October of 2017. “Who thinks I should compete at nationals next year?” There’s also video of her training at Gold’s Gym Venice in the summer of 2017, with public records indicating she lived in nearby Marina del Rey in 2016 and 2017. In January 2017, Clenney posted a picture of herself at Gold’s where she credited Rhoden as the photographer. The two were also photographed together with her holding a trophy at a bikini bodybuilding contest.
Then there’s Rhoden’s jaw. Several years after the fact, Rhoden gave interviews in which he described training for the 2017 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition with a broken jaw, although he did not say how the injury happened. “There was no off-season,” Rhoden told Muscular Development magazine in a 2020 video interview. “It was like, jaw was broken in February, wired shut in March, April, May, and I was just kinda like you know what, I’m not gonna say a word to anyone. I’m just gonna train.” Even back then, people speculated as to the cause. A year ago, one person commented on the video: “Did he ever told you the story why he broke the jaw maybe of[f] camera?…I [heard] the story…and it’s quite hilarious if true.” On another clip from the same Muscular Development interview, one user commented a year ago, “How did his jaw break? Heard it had to do something with some woman.” Prieto says he’s never heard this allegation before and will try to find out about it. (If he shares further insight into this claim, Rolling Stone will update this article accordingly.)
As Clenney and Obumseli’s relationship developed in late 2020 and into 2021, the Austin friend says she saw Clenney, on multiple occasions, pull Obumseli away from the group to argue while they were out in Austin as well as on group trips out of town. “She would disappear while we’re all at dinner or out, and she would text Christian to go meet her,” the friend says. “And we’d go looking for them, and we’d see them arguing, and she’d be sitting there screaming at the top of her lungs. She was always pulling him away to fight about something.”
“Are there signs of substance abuse? Yeah. I mean, I would have to agree with that.”
A fellow influencer who went on group trips with the couple and asked not to be identified because of her work in the public eye, says she saw Clenney “push” Obumseli on multiple occasions. On a trip to Palm Springs, California, last August, the influencer says she was preparing for a photo shoot and witnessed them having an altercation. “I could see them arguing out of the corner of my eye,” she says. “She was kind of pushing him out of the room.” She says that more than once, she saw an altercation start after Clenney accused Obumseli of eyeing other women. “She would be like, ‘Hey, you just looked at her,’” the influencer says. “And then she would start pushing him around.”
The Austin friend also says she saw Clenney hitting Obumseli on multiple occasions when they were out in a group downtown. “They would leave and we’d go looking for them — we were always kind of worried [about] what was happening or if it was escalating,” she says. “There was one time I pulled up and they were in an alley and she was hitting him as I walked up.” On another occasion, the friend claims, Clenney pushed Obumseli down some stairs at an apartment party. “They were leaving, and she pushed him down the stairs because she got mad at him,” the friend says. Asked whether she saw it happen, the friend adds, “I heard it, and I went out there, and he was at the bottom of the steps.”
Prieto does not deny the allegations of physical violence by Clenney against Obumseli, but maintains that “independent witnesses” say Obumseli was abusive in private. “They had a tumultuous relationship. It went both ways, unfortunately,” he says, referring to the alleged abuse. “It appears Christian was very good at it being somewhat of a chameleon. In public, he maintained a certain facade. In private, he was a gaslighter and both mentally and physically abusive with her.” (Handfield calls this assertion “not credible and disingenuous,” pointing to the multiple times cops had been called to the couple’s apartment. “If there was any evidence to support that he was abusive towards her, he would have been hauled off to jail so fast it’ll make your head spin,” he says.)
The Friday before the stabbing, police were called to the apartment building because of an incident involving Clenney and Obumseli. According to reporting by the Miami Herald, officers observed bruises on her arms and legs then, suggesting she’d been abused. However, a source familiar with the situation tells Rolling Stone that police were called that day because Clenney had been “shoving” Obumseli in common areas. This same source says there were 13 calls made to the police since Clenny and Obumseli moved in in January, each prompted by her behaving aggressively towards him. (Police declined to comment; Prieto says he is “not a bruise expert” but saw bruises on Clenneys arms and legs on Sunday night, following the stabbing. “And I believe there was some discoloration on her neck area,” he says.)
The Austin friend does not believe that Obumseli harmed Clenney in private. After seeing Clenney and Obumseli fight in public, she flat-out asked Clenney if she was being abused. “I was like, Hey, look, is he hurting you? Is he hitting you, beating you? Like, what’s happening?,” she says. “She’s never said that he’s hit her, cause that’s something I would have absolutely not been OK with. I would have said something. I would have made a big deal out of that.”
The thing she says Clenney did complain to her about when it came to Obumseli was money. “It was always the thing of, ‘I don’t want to share my money with him,’” she says. “They were constantly fighting about money.” The Austin friend, the influencer, and Clenney’s lawyer all said Obumseli and Clenney had arranged for him to get a percentage of her OnlyFans income. It is unclear whether Obumseli was being paid what they’d agreed upon; the friend and the influencer say he was not, and that he managed her schedule and helped out at photo shoots, doing the work of an assistant. Prieto says Obumseli was being paid a percentage by Clenney’s management company at her behest, and describes Obumseli as “manipulative” in trying to take some of Clenney’s modeling income. He has suggested to Rolling Stone and other outlets that he’s building a sex-trafficking case against the late Obumseli, though he’s declined to offer details. Handfield says he believes Prieto invented the trafficking allegations to help defend Clenney against potential murder charges. “I think it’s just something he’s made up,” he says. “It’s self-serving.”
During their relationship, Clenney would buy Obumseli expensive gifts, and the Austin friend says Clenney used money to make up for times that she allegedly mistreated him. She says in one instance, Clenney tossed Obumseli’s suitcases off the balcony of their Austin apartment building. “She was like, ‘Ha ha, toxic girlfriend,’ but [then] she was like, ‘It’s okay, I bought him all new Louis Vuitton luggage,’” she says. “It was this thing where she would do something to him, and then her way of apologizing would be to buy him something designer or make up for it with a trip.” Prieto says he does not think Clenney gave Obumseli gifts to make up after arguments.
“They would leave and we’d go looking for them — we were always kind of worried [about] what was happening”
The friend and the influencer say Obumseli’s general approach was to try to “de-escalate” situations with Courtney. “I can summarize it as her always having these manic episodes, dragging him into it, and him trying to be like, ‘calm down, calm down,’” says the Austin friend. The influencer shares this view. “His role in their relationship was basically to take it from her and to calm her down,” she says.
One place where sources differ is on whether Obumseli defended himself against Clenney’s alleged attacks. The influencer says she never saw him do anything to stop her during their altercations. “He would kind of just stand there, like a stick figure,” she says. “He would just stand there and take it. If she put her hands on him, he would never put his hands back on her. I don’t even think he would try to stop her from hitting him.” The source familiar with the police visits to the apartment building describes similar behaviors in the common areas. Courtney would “get physical” with him during arguments, the source claims, and he would “stand there and take it.”
In a slightly different version of events, the Austin friend says she has seen Obumseli try to defend himself. “He wasn’t just sitting there taking it,” she says, describing the time she says she saw Clenney hitting Obumseli in an Austin alleyway. “I’ve never seen him hit her. He has grabbed her, not in an aggressive way, but, you know, when someone’s hitting you, you like, grab their arms. I’ve seen that, but it’s never been a thing where he was hitting her.”
Through it all, friends say, Obumseli stood by her and even made excuses for her alleged behavior. According to the Austin friend, Obumseli would blame it on her alcohol consumption. “He was always trying to be patient and [he] was like, ‘She’s only like that when she’s drinking,’ always making an excuse, and we would be like, it’s not cool. You can’t just be getting the crap beat out of you.” The influencer also believes substance use played a role. She said on several trips she went on, Clenney was drunk most of the time. “You just couldn’t hold a conversation with her because she was slurring her words,” she says. “I do want to say I have never seen her [act] aggressive sober.” Handfield tells RS he has spoken with witnesses who, like the sources RS interviewed, claim that “when she drinks, she becomes violent.” Prieto says he does not believe alcohol makes Clenney violent.
Whatever actually happened that night in the apartment between Clenney and Obumseli, their friends say Clenney’s track record of alarming behavior gave them cause to wonder. The friend from Austin claims she’s seen her use violent threats as a joke. One time, she says she brandished scissors at another person, joking that she was going to hurt them. “She’s done that, trying to be funny, like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get you,’ or like, ‘Don’t talk to me that way,’” the friend says. “She’ll pull something out, thinking it’s funny, like, ‘Ha ha, I’m the toxic crazy girlfriend.’”