The investigation started when 25-year-old Cheyanne Jessie called police on Saturday morning to report that her father and 6-year-old daughter had vanished. When police arrived at Jessie's home, they say, they smelled a foul odor. Jessie allegedly attributed the smell to a dead raccoon.
As authorities noted discrepancies in Jessie's story, they began to focus on her as a suspect.
Police soon found the bodies of 50-year-old Mark Weekly and 6-year-old Meredith Jessie stuffed in bags and placed in a storage shed about 200 feet from the family home. And when police searched the home itself, they found bloodstained furniture and rugs.
In a press conference on Sunday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd seemed visibly disturbed by the case. "Nothing's more horrific than the murder of a child, except when it's done by a parent," Judd said.
As he held up Jessie's mug shot, Judd's voice broke. "This is the face and this is the eyes of a cold-blooded murderer," he said. "She not only murdered them, but left them in the residence for many days until it became painfully evident she had to move them."
Police believe that Jessie killed her relatives with a knife and left them in the home for several days. Then, Judd says, she loaded the bodies into her Chevrolet Suburban and moved them to the shed.
Polk County Sheriff's Office
A Chilling Motive?In the press conference, Judd claimed that Jessie killed her family so she could be with a new boyfriend.
After Weekly was already dead, someone used his phone to text Jessie's boyfriend. In the texts, the person pretending to be Weekly said that he only had a year to live, and wanted to spend it with his granddaughter. The texts allegedly gave Jessie and her boyfriend permission to take the house.
"Does she think she's going to lose this boyfriend, which she desperately wanted, because of her daughter?" Judd asked rhetorically. "For whatever reason, not only does she take her daughter to her father but ultimately murders both of them."
Claims of Self-DefenseAccording to authorities, Jessie now claims that she killed her father and daughter in self-defense.
Jessie allegedly claimed that her father tried to stab her but that she fended him off.
"She supposedly gets the knife away from her father after he's slashing at her, and accidentally stabs the 6-year-old," Judd said of Jessie's version of events. "None of the evidence supports this."
Jessie has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence. She has yet to file a formal plea and does not appear to have hired an attorney.
She is being held without bond in the Polk County Jail.
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