What Happened to The Beauty Queens: Chelsie Kryst and Zoe Sozo Bethel?

Tiffany Thomas
5 min readMar 12, 2022

This post can go two ways: a conspiracy murder theory or focus on mental health

Cheslie Kryst image from Pinterest/Zoe Sozo Bethel image from Pinterest (both images combined on PhotoCollage)

So this piece was actually supposed to be posted about two ago, which was closer to when the devastation happened in the beauty world. However, it got delayed until now, and I still think it’s relevant to post, because this is something that still sits on my mind.

For those who don’t know or know and need a recap, Miss USA, Chelsie Kryst, who was crowned in 2019 died a few weeks ago from falling out of her Manhattan 29th floor apartment. A few days after her death, the media announced that it was a sucide — her mother, April Simpkins confirmed that Chelsie battled with depression for years. Chelsie Kyrst was known for her success in the Miss America organization, activism, and uplifting social media.

The first time hearing the death of Cheslie Kyrst, being dramatic, a scandalous narrative couldn’t help but to pop up in my head. I pictured a stalker following her around for years, broke into her place, and pushed out the window. Or someone she knew, who had a grudge against her, pushed her off. Every time I read an article about her death, I was only capable of imagining her getting pushed.

But finally, suicide flirted with my imagination, but still thought it was an accident — maybe she played with the idea for a quick second, but then it went wrong. Almost as if Rose Dawson from Titanic fell overboard, during her suicidal moment, instead of Jack Dawson saving her. Call me a naïve, oblivious, conspiracist gen z or millennial (I’m def not a conspiracist though), but this was my genuine thought process.

After reading a piece on Tik Tok users’ reaction to Chelsie Kryst’s death, my original opinion went elsewhere. Madison Malone Kircher argued the fact that the media will take a tragedy and turn it into a theatrical narrative and it’s the case for Chelsie Kyrst. Tik Tokers acted like the social media investigators in Netflix’s Documentary, Don’t F*ck with Cats, as they analyzed Chelsie Kyrst’s last interaction on Tik Tok.

Chelise did an ad with M&Ms and she made a Tik Tok captioning, “When you shoot a TV segment at the M&Ms store and they surprise you with …. M&Ms with your face and name printed on them.” Fans commented on the Tik Tok post with clues and crime theories, such as “are they sure she wasn’t pushed,” “there needs to be an investigation, because things aren’t adding up,” and “anyone would leave a note.” Obviously, I can bash these peeps and accuse them of insensitivity; but again, I thought the same thing in the beginning. But the writer of the piece opened my eyes and made me realize I was dismissing the reality of this woman experiencing depression upon her death, and it is true, because her mother even revealed it.

I stopped ignoring the fact that it is possible for a successful, beautiful, down to earth woman with a smile that lit the room, to be depressed and want to take her own life.

But then…… headlines everywhere — social media timelines, tv screens, news notifications on my phone and laptop in bold, “Miss Alabama for America Dies of a Brain Injury.” Zoe Sozo Bethel died at 27 due a blunt force trauma. A week before, she mysteriously fell out of a third story building, right outside of Miami. At the time, police reported an attempted suicide.

So now, I’m like “okay, what the hell is going on?” It’s fair to ask, why compare two beauty queens from two different organizations with the two backgrounds and views? But they were both beauty queens with the similar tragedies that occurred weeks within one another. These situations weren’t leaving my mind yet.

I started focusing on the fact that these women were depressed. I researched beauty queens and depression assuming there were would be thousands of articles and essays about the statistics on beauty pageant queens and mental health. It’s 2022 and mental health has been emphasized, bolded, in our faces, you name it. But when it comes to connecting with beauty contestants and winners, I only found a few essays that came out years ago. In an abstract of an essay written in 2003, it states that 26% of women un US pageants suffer from eating disorders. But that was the only thing I could find, so when it comes to pageant queens suffering from depression, it’s not really talked about until someone dies.

Did both Chelsie Kryst and Zoe Sozo Bethel commit suicide?

About a week ago, I found out some more facts about Zoe Sozo Bethel. An article came out revealing Zoe had a secret before her death. Growing up, Zoe’s parents raised her and her siblings as extreme Christians and formed a group, calling themselves, “The Apostle” and “The Prophetess.” They went on tours and chanted homophobic rants with signs and t-shirts. Zoe’s sister, Kezia Bethel emphasized her, Zoe, and their siblings’ childhood was a nightmare, and it got so bad to the point their parents were arrested for disorderly conduct.

During Zoe Sozo Bethel modeling career, she pursued conservative politics and supported through his elections. But by 2018, her modeling agency Ursula Wiedmann fired her for getting heat for her right wing beliefs.

Kezia Bethel, ex husband, and best friend made it clear that Zoe’s death wasn’t a suicide and Miami police needs to investigate further. Miami police then officially announced that it wasn’t a suicide.

However, the story about her death is completely mixed up. Her sister said it wasn’t a suicide but her brother, Santiago claimed she did. Apparently, he had dinner with the night of her death, and she took a relaxer that night. By the time the two of them got back to her place, she was on the phone with her brother, Zion pacing around the apartment and then ran towards her balcony and jumped off.

Santigo then stated, “she loved her life. She loved her daughter, she was the pinnacle of her potential.” He also started a GoFund me to cover all of her hospital expenses. Kezia wanted people to know:

“Zoe tried remake herself so no one would know she was the kid from Baldwin county who yelled, ‘God hates you’ to people. She was able to keep it a secret on a national level.”

Chelsie Kryst’s death appears to be a suicide, but what happened to Zoe Sozo Bethel?