[The jurors] may believe that Jacob Ind was abused, or they may not. And even if they believe the boy was abused, they still might feel that it’s no excuse for the act he has committed.
~Raymond McCaffrey/columnist Gazette Telegraph
On Thursday, May 19, 1994, Jacob’s former friend, David Mabie, took the stand. Mabie is tall with long, dishwater blond hair, parted in the middle. That morning he sported a scraggly moustache and his eyes were glassy. Both Jacob and a counselor in the courtroom familiar with substance abuse commented that Mabie appeared to be stoned.
David testified that he had known Jacob since 6th grade and saw him on a regular friendship basis.
“Sometimes we would spend the night together or do things on weekends. After Jacob was held back a year, we weren’t as close.”
Jacob was always quiet and very polite at David’s house. He never complained about being abused. David had met Kermode and Pamela and they seemed pretty normal when he was there. If he phoned Jacob and Kermode or Pam answered, he didn’t sense anything unusual.
“Did you ever witness any arguments between the defendant and his parents?”
“Once. His mother had just cleaned up the kitchen. Jacob was cooking bacon and splattered grease. She yelled at him. There was a lot of verbal abuse. After the bacon argument, we wanted to get the sled out of the garage and needed the keys and his mother ragged on Jacob for not knowing where they were… I never saw bruises on Jacob or heard him complain about injuries.”
“Did you notice their relationship going downhill?”
“Yes, about three years ago. I saw more arguments and he was always getting into trouble. They kept Jacob caged and wouldn’t let him do things. Once they grounded him for the summer because he didn’t go to the store for milk.[The store would have been a six mile round trip.]”
Two months before the murders, Jacob started complaining that he wasn’t getting along with his parents and wanted them dead.
“He would say that a couple of times a week. I talked to him at lunchtime or after buses had dropped us off before school. Jacob didn’t really say why he needed someone to help him kill his parents. I said no.”
“Why did Jacob ask you to help him kill his parents?”
“I don’t know.”
This conversation about the Jordans’ murders occurred in October 1992 around 12:45 p.m. David and Jacob were returning to the campus after lunch. At first, Mabie didn’t believe his friend was serious.
“Jacob wasn’t himself at this time. He had a short temper and he wasn’t bathing. He said he didn’t like his parents, and didn’t want them there to tell him what to do any more. They were always telling him that they didn’t like the way he dressed, especially his bellbottoms. He said he hated his parents more times than I can count. And every time he spoke to me he’d mention that he wanted me to kill them. He’d say that maybe three or four times a day.”
One day after getting off the buses, Jacob said he had found someone else to help him kill his parents—Major Adams.
David and Jacob had two in-depth conversations regarding the killings with a two-week lapse in between. During the second conversation, near the beginning of November, Jacob said that Major was making a silencer for a.22 pistol or he was going to talk to Gabriel about making a silencer so no shots would be heard.
Mabie testified that he likes guns. He collects them and hunts. Yet when the prosecution held up the .357 that David said he had seen in the Jordan household, Mabie didn’t recognize it or the nylon holster and ammo pouch. He identified the .22 revolver as the one he saw in Jacob’s room.
“Were you over at 120 Ridge Drive after Charles left?”
“Twice. That was after Jacob moved into his brother’s room.”
David then recounted Jacob’s confession before school on the morning of the murders. “Jacob said, ‘I will never forget my mother screaming.’”
“Have you had any contact with the defendant since December 17, 1992?”
“A couple of telephone conversations. And he wrote me a couple of letters.”
David had reported Jacob’s conversations, which took place during his stay at Zeb Pike Detention Center, to the police. Mabie asked if he should tape these conversations. They said yes so Mabie used his answering machine. Afterward, he turned the tape—as well as Jacob’s letters—over to the D.A.
One taped conversation was played for the jury. In it, Jacob told David that he had heard Major had been released on bond. Jacob was worried that the “psycho” would turn on Charles to get back at him for telling police of Gabriel’s involvement in the killing. Jacob also added that getting rid of Major would improve his defense. He said that Principal Jim Taylor had missed half the conversation and David Greathouse would not be able to testify–presumably because of counselor-student privilege.
“So If Major disappears, they have nothing on me. I’ll say he either told me to do this stuff or that Major did everything. I need to find someone to get Major.”
“What do you mean?” asked David on the phone.
“Oh, yeah, I don’t know.”
“Find someone to do it.”
“What do you think the defendant meant when he said “to get” Major?” asked Bill Aspinwall after the tape was shut off.
“I thought he meant to find him and kill him.”
When asked to identify to whom David was speaking on the tape, David did not recognize his former friend’s voice. Only after he was shown the tape could he verify that it was the one he’d made.
The impact of the tape was devastating. As it turned out, the only time the jury would hear Jacob Ind’s voice was when he sounded like a punk. As is required by law, the prosecution had long ago shared the tape’s contents with the defense, so the conversations were nothing new. But afterward Shaun acted as dazed as everyone else. And he did little to try to mitigate their effect. He never raised the question of Jacob’s mental state in the days following the tragedy, or why Jacob would feel comfortable discussing murder with a supposedly innocent bystander, or why David Mabie felt compelled to turn on his friend, or whether David had cut some sort of deal with the state. Shaun never confronted David with Jacob’s assertion that it had been David, rather than he, who had first mentioned killing Pamela and Kermode, who had given Jacob the .22 that was used in the murders, or about David’s possible participation in the murder plot. Shaun mentioned very little about David’s personal problems, which also include major abuse, and which must be weighed when assessing his credibility. Especially when his 6’5″ father sat in court during his son’s entire testimony. (As did David’s attorney.)
The defense was reluctant to tear into David because they were trying to paint Jacob as a terrific kid and Mabie could have testified to the contrary—that the pair had smoked pot and had broken into a couple of houses. But any aberrant behavior on Jacob’s part would be explained by the defense psychologists. Anti-social behavior, often in a far more serious fashion and far earlier than in Jacob’s case, is typical of abused children.
In the elevator after the end of the day’s testimony, Shaun said, “Keep smiling,” as if the prosecution had delivered a bombshell. Because of the defense’s reaction, indeed they had. And Aspinwall knew it. During a recess he went over and stood beside Jacob. He grinned down at him, as if to say, “Gotcha, punk.” At another time Aspinwall stared at Nancy Overmyer, the tall grey-haired lady who Jacob considers “family,” and smirked.
The following day, Shaun tried to exercise some damage control.
On the morning of the murders in the school hallway, Jacob had expressed concern over his brother’s safety.
“Gabriel had a reputation for being dangerous,” Mabie testified. “Jacob said, ‘Inform my brother, man, that Major may go after him.’”
“I asked, ‘So he’s threatening you? Why would he go after your brother?’”
“‘I don’t know. The kid is psycho, you know that. To try to get to me.’”
Shaun asked, “Did you ever see any bruises or injuries on the defendant?”
“I saw one on his arm. Jacob put a tattoo there, and he was afraid because of his parents. Jacob took a wire brush and scrubbed it off which left a scar… He told me there was physical and verbal abuse, that his stepdad beat him.”
As far as Jacob’s relationship with his parents, when he was thirteen, Mabie said it was fine. It took years to deteriorate. By the fall of 1992, “He told me about his sleepless nights. The last six weeks Jacob wasn’t eating, sleeping or taking care of himself. I knew toward the end there was a lot of verbal abuse. He had really bad mood swings, which increased after Charles moved out.” They had a conversation about going to Social Services. Mabie, speaking from first hand experience, told Jacob, “They don’t always help kids.”
In Mabie’s deposition, he had mentioned Jacob being beaten. Now Shaun zeroed in on that statement. He held up a piece of paper on which he’d written in blue magic marker, “BEAT.”
Displaying the word to jurors and spectators Shaun said, “He was beat, Beat, BEAT!”
Soon after, Mabie sheepishly left the stand.
Jacob later charged that David had lied seventy-six times. That plus the discrepancies in Lucinda Reed’s statements caused his supporters to wonder about possible perjury charges against the pair. Again, that showed our naivete. Witnesses, defense and prosecution, professional and ordinary, lie on the stand every day in every courtroom across America. That’s accepted practice. Only a newcomer to the system believes otherwise. Only someone like me or Jacob’s friends actually assumed that taking the oath “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth,” meant something. In Jacob’s case, the prosecution had no interest in bringing perjury charges against two of their own witnesses. And, for whatever reason, neither did the defense.
Jacob’s best friend, Armando Lee took the stand next. Jacob and Mondo had been pals since 7th grade. Several times they’d had sleep overs at each other’s houses.
Mondo said, “At our house one of us would throw a sleeping bag on the floor while the other slept in the bed. We could stay up all night if we wanted to.”
Which contrasted with spending the night at the Jordans.
“We were immediately separated in different bedrooms and made to do our homework. At suppertime his mother took the phone off the hook so that dinnertime wouldn’t be disturbed, we ate and then Jacob and I went to our separate rooms for the night.”
“Did you ever witness any arguments between the defendant and his parents?”
“No, though I do remember one incident when Jacob expressed fear of them. We were going to go hiking behind the high school. It was winter. Jacob borrowed Kermode’s ski pants without telling him. As we were coming back down, we slid. Jacob caught the pants on rocks and tore them. He got really scared and asked if there was some way they could be sewn up, but there wasn’t because they were made out of nylon.”
The prosecution questioned Armando about his friend’s chores.
“Jacob had to clean the house, clean up dog dung in the garage, and feed the dogs.” Armando also had chores and he didn’t think Jacob’s were unusual.
“Jacob talked about how much he hated his parents for as long as I knew him. He said his parents beat him a lot and put him through mental head trips. He told me about being hit by a belt buckle across the face one time.”
“Did you ever see any evidence of that?”
Nor did Mondo see any bruises or marks, even though they had gym class together.
“Jacob said he wanted his parents dead and wished he could find someone to do it.”
“Did you see Pam and Kermode strike or use violence? What about yelling? Arguments?”
Aspinwall directed the witness to the morning after the murders. Mondo had seen his friend between second and third hour. Jacob said he needed to talk. They walked outside the freshman hall.
“He told me that Major screwed everything up big time and that his parents were dead. Jacob kept pacing back and forth. He kept asking me, ‘What should I do?’ He felt so bad he was ready to kill himself…I mentioned calling the police.
“Jacob said, ‘I don’t think I could do that.’ He was speaking in half sentences, really down and really scared. I told him I’d make the call.”
After a fifteen minute break, Shaun began his cross. Armando testified that Jacob was “kind of a geek” and didn’t have many friends. Mondo was shunned by some because of their friendship. Jacob could be loud and obnoxious, but he was different at the Lee place, an isolated homestead of two hundred acres. There Jacob was happy. The two teenagers hunted, hiked, and camped. With his parents some fifty miles away, “Jacob felt safe.”
Shaun asked whether Armando noticed any changes in Jacob’s behavior.
“Yes. For example at lunch Jacob and I would walk to Cactus (A local fast food place similar to a Taco Bell) and he would eat five burritos. By mid-fall, early December, he simply stopped eating.”
Mondo couldn’t recall whether that was a gradual thing or quite sudden. Shaun finished his questioning by discussing the fact that Mondo had never noticed any bruises.
“Teenage boys don’t make a point of looking at other teenage boys, do they? Not even in gym class?”
“That’s part of teenage boyness, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Mondo replied. He also agreed that there were no meetings at school where an authority figure told kids it was okay to tell if they’ve been hit.
“Kids don’t boast about parental bruising, do they?”
“No, they don’t.”
Several expert witnesses followed, testifying about fingerprints, ballistics and hair samples—most of which came from Gabriel Adams. None were found from Jacob and multiple strands appeared to have come from someone other than the victims or the defendants. While the idea of a total stranger possibly being in a private master bedroom might have raised a reasonable doubt as to who actually killed the Jordans, lab agent Kenneth Van Cleave’s peculiar statement was never pursued. Van Cleave, who specializes in latent fingerprints, testified that Jacob’s right thumbprint was found on the bear mace, and Gabriel’s right thumb on the .357. Gabriel’s print was positioned in the same place that the thumb would be if the weapon was being held to shoot. But the fact that Gabriel’s prints, rather than Jacob’s were on the .357 didn’t necessarily mean that Gabriel had fired it.
According to Van Cleave, “Prints are only found in eight to ten per cent of items submitted.”
Curiously, other than the bear spray which witnesses saw Jacob handle many times before the murders, there is no physical evidence linking him to the scene of the crime. There are no powder burns or fingerprints. Nor can any bloodstains be conclusively attributed to him. The prosecution’s serologist testified that blood samples could either be Gabriel’s or Jacob’s, (and during Gabriel’s trial that they could have been Charles’s, as well). The tests were “inconclusive.” Throughout the proceedings, Aspinwall stressed the fact that Jacob didn’t have a scratch on him. If that’s true, and examinations on the night of the arrests indeed prove that to be the case, the bloodstains still cannot be attributed exclusively to Gabriel Adams. The serologist also testified that he didn’t think the bodies had been moved after death or “there would have been pooling of blood”—directly contradicting Jacob’s assertion that Gabriel must have moved his parents because they weren’t positioned as Jacob remembered them. Two jurors later expressed doubt as to Jacob even committing the crime, but because Shaun never pursued other possibilities, they assumed Kaufman wasn’t delving into that area because “he must have known something we didn’t.”
Tom Griffin, a lab agent for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, admitted that there was no “residue from a firearm” on Jacob’s hands. However, That did not mean that it hadn’t been there at one point.
“Rubbing one’s hands together or washing them will remove much of the residue, as would four to six hours of normal activity.”
In Jacob’s case, he wasn’t swabbed for perhaps ten hours after the murders.
On May 24, 1994, the ninth day of testimony, Kermode and Pamela’s autopsy photos were introduced. The defense objected, charging that they were “inflammatory and cumulative.” Out of dozens of slides, Looney finally disallowed one. For more than two hours, jurors saw photos of the victims’ heads and torsos while El Paso County Coroner David Bowerman painstakingly explained each mark, abrasion and wound.
Kermode was displayed first. “Mr. Jordan could have survived the three .22 shots to his head,” Bowerman said, as the first photo of Jacob’s stepfather was displayed. Kermode’s eyes were closed. His hair, due to the coroner’s ministrations, lay in short wet strands against his skull. Before photographing each body, Bowerman had scrubbed away all the blood and debris.
“Mr. Jordan would not have bled to death from his wounds, though his wife could have died from loss of blood.”
While Kermode had been shot three times in the face, the wounds were surprisingly small. They appeared more like blemishes than anything that could kill a man. The prosecution lingered over each picture so spectators had plenty of time to gaze into that face, to study the full straight nose, the thin lips, the rather puffy eyelids. Kermode looked as if he were concentrating on pretending to be asleep. In the various pictures his skin looked mottled, reminiscent of a rhinoceros’s hide, though that was due to death rather than age. In one photograph detailing the cuts on his hands we clearly viewed the hairless chest and the slightly bloated belly, tapering down toward his genitals.
Although I wasn’t allowed in the courtroom until closing arguments, I did see the photos during Gabriel Adams’s trial. I found them disturbing. Not so much because I was looking at two dead bodies, or even because of the violence perpetrated upon them, which did not match the horror of press reports or of my imagination.
But because I correlated the corpses to their actions in life. Viewing Kermode, I found myself thinking, This is what a pedophile truly looks like. Too bad there wasn’t some clue in that lifeless flesh, in those merciless photographs that would explain the origin of Kermode Jordan’s perversion, some scarlet letter warning the world that a monstrosity walked among them.
Or maybe there was a clue, after all. If not to Kermode’s perversion, at least to Jacob’s final act—the bullet to the brain.
As Jacob’s psychiatrist once explained to me, “Every crime scene reveals a lot about the reason for the murders and the nature of the abuse. There are many clues in the deed itself, as well as in the chosen weapon.”
In Jacob’s case, he had used a .357. One squeeze and there is complete, instantaneous extermination of the personality, of billions of memories—both inconsequential and profound. If you can demolish what made Kermode and Pamela functioning, thinking, feeling human beings, can you somehow eradicate their deeds? And by destroying them, does that mean that one is free of the past and the perpetrators’ influence? Did Kermode and Pam’s power explode simultaneously with the bullets entering their brain? Jacob believes so, though he scoffs at the notion that his choice of weapon was relevant. The .357 was the closest thing available and the deed had to be done. But the same could be asked concerning Jacob’s proposed method of suicide on the morning after the murders. Place a barrel between the eyes and pull the trigger. Why not slit your wrists? Take pills? Drive off a cliff? Place the barrel against your heart? Why do so much violence to his brain?
After many more close-ups of various parts of Kermode’s body, it was Pamela Jean’s turn. In the first picture we see the back of her head, her hair falling away from her scalp in snaking tendrils, and a portion of her shoulder and back. Pam’s wounds are far worse than Kermode’s. Amid the coiling hair are two wicked cuts, four to six inches in length, that reach to the skull. A third cut penetrates near the base of her neck, as if Gabriel Adams had indeed been trying to “pith” her.
The coroner has positioned the body so we can see a particular graze-wound. Pam’s skin is fish-white and wet. More photos, several of her face in profile. (Pamela’s “good” side. Where the .357 entered the entire area is almost completely blackened by tattooing.) Pam’s hooked nose, the chin receding into her neck does make her look like a witch. Her mouth, unlike Kermode’s, is open, showing her strong teeth. Kermode’s face was neutral, but Pamela looks angry as hell.
Another slide focuses on an abrasion on Pam’s shoulder. Upon glimpsing one of her breasts I cannot escape the thought, How could two people have so perverted sex and love? Pamela’s breasts hadn’t been used to nurture. They had been used to violate. Her womb hadn’t given life. It had snatched away all chance at anything save a faint echo.
There are other photos I need to see of Pamela and Kermode, photos that will never be shown in this courtroom to awaken my pity. Perhaps if I could view images of Kermie and Daddy’s Little Girl that were taken from childhood—when their eyes are as bright as the promises of their future and life beckons them with hope and love, rather than the defeats of their childhood and their own deeds. Perhaps then I could feel for these two dead people, these two “victims” on display for all the world to see.
In the afternoon, John Peters Jr., an aerosol chemical and self-defense expert, was scheduled to detail the effects of BearGuard, the spray that Jacob had used on his parents. Jacob’s supporters hoped that Shaun would question the expert as to why, if the mace was deadly enough to totally incapacitate Kermode and Pamela, it hadn’t immobilized Jacob and Gabrial. One observer, familiar with mace, reminded Shaun that pepper spray is often far less debilitating than advertised. Shaun promised that he would question Peters on that point.
The defense never had the chance to raise that contradiction or anything else. After stating his credentials, Peters “accidentally” discharged the mace in the courtroom.
As reporter Deborah Correll of the High Mountain Sun wrote, ‘One little spritz may be worth a thousand words.
‘Especially when the spritz in question is one of pepper gas, and especially when its aimed straight at a courtroom of people sitting in judgement of a 16-year-old-boy who blasted his parents full in the face with the stuff before killing them with a .357 Magnum revolver.’
“Oops! It went off…I’m sorry…I didn’t know there was anything left in the can,” Peters said. Some witnesses claimed he looked surprised, others stunned, still others as if he knew exactly what he was doing.
Reporter Correll continued, ‘Having your throat close up, your eyes water, your nose fill up, and not being able to breathe has a way of giving new perspective to what Kermode and Pam Jordan encountered just after being shot and stabbed repeatedly and just before being sent to their deaths.
The prosecution could not have done a better job of putting jurors in the Jordans’ shoes if they’d planned it.’
Jacob’s father claims that’s exactly what happened. Barred from the courtroom, Frank Ind had spent every minute in the hallway. Before Peters’ testimony, Frank overheard co-prosecutor Gordon Dennison and the expert discussing the possibility that some liquid remained in the can. Supposedly, one said, “I wonder what would happen if this went off in the courtroom.” (Other members of the defense also believe it was a fix, and that the incident would provide a strong issue on appeal. Oddly, Jacob’s appeals attorney never even mentioned it or at least three other incidents, including David Mabie’s entire testimony, which experts thought were important. Was Jacob’s appeal handled as cavalierly as his original defense?)
Coughing and wheezing, former spectators congregated in the hallway. Several mentioned that Aspinwall and Dennison kept grinning, as if well- pleased with themselves. Frank Ind, hardly a hothead, was so infuriated he threatened to punch Aspinwall, though not to his face. Frank tried to talk to Judge Looney about what he’d heard. Looney refused to see him.
Once the spray was dispersed, the defense moved for a mistrial. Looney denied their motion. She did order Peters’ testimony to be excluded from the record. Nor did she allow him to return as a witness.
Which was hardly a blow to the prosecution. Aspinwall simply brought in another mace expert.
The prosecution rested.
 At a pre-trial hearing I spoke with Mabie’s stepmother. She said she’d loved Jacob and could have adopted him. But, because of his crime, she now hoped he would ”rot in hell.”
 Actually, it wasn’t. That had been the broken .22 that Jacob had carried around since childhood. The murder weapon the prosecution displayed was the one Jacob and David had stolen that previous summer—the one that David had hidden, cleaned up for Jacob and brought to school. Others having performed similar acts to Mabie’s are serving hard time. They’re called “accessories to a crime.”
 Other experts say gunpowder would have HAD to show up. Since Jacob was in his underwear, he should have been covered by it. A more comprehensive test, particularly in a capital murder case, should absolutely have been conducted. Discrepancies such as these lend credence to the assertion often voiced among Jacob’s closest friends and family members (I’m not among them) that Jacob didn’t even kill his parents. Why didn’t Kaufman ever pursue other angles such as Jacob was taking the fall for someone else? Even the most rookie policeman knows that a confession is only the first step toward identifying a killer. In Jacob’s case both law enforcement and the defense never scratched beneath the surface of the most obvious.
Parents kill their children all the time. It’s seldom that children strike back. When they do, of course, it is the stuff of tabloid dreams.
Raymond McCaffrey/columnist Gazette Telegraph
Chapter 29 (Click to entire chapter.)