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Debra Janelle JETER





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - The reason was because she was heartbroken over the couple’s separation and a subsequent child custody fight
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 5, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1977
Victim profile: Kelsey Leanne Jeter, 12 (her daughter)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 27, 2010

Central Texas Woman Who Killed Youngest Daughter Says She’s Sorry

By Lauren Westbrook -

May 28, 2010

HILLSBORO -- Debra Jeter, 33, who pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hillsboro to capital murder and attempted capital murder in an attack that left one of her daughters dead and the other seriously injured, told her surviving daughter and estranged husband before she was transferred to a state prison unit that she was sorry.

Jeter was transferred Thursday to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison unit in Gatesville after she was sentenced Tuesday to life without parole in a plea deal that spared her the possibility of a death sentence and spared her surviving daughter from the trauma of having to testify.

Before she was transferred, she met with her estranged husband Lee and surviving daughter Kiersten, Lee Jeter said Friday.

He said that she told him that she still hated him, but that she was sorry for everything that happened.

He said his daughter shared a few light-hearted moments with her mother during which they talked laughed, but he said that won’t ever happen again outside of prison walls.

He said Debra told him that the reason she attacked Kiersten and her younger sister Kelsey was because she was heartbroken over the couple’s separation and a subsequent child custody fight.

“She figured if she felt that way, then we all must feel that way and she wanted to take away all of our pain,” he said.

Jeter said his daughter is what keeps him going and says she told him, “Kelsey wouldn’t want us to give up.”

Debra Jeter has been behind bars since she was arrested on June 5, 2009 after placing a chilling 911 call and reported that she had killed her daughters.

Hill County deputies, Hillsboro police and state troopers converged on an abandoned farmhouse on U.S. 77 just off Interstate 35 and found Jeter in the garage with her hands raised above the head.

Officers found 12-year-old Kelsey Leanne Jeter dead inside the house and 13-year-old Kiersten Leigh Jeter critically injured in a bedroom.

Authorities said Kiersten, had a stab wound in her back and evidently tried to protect her younger sister during the attack.

Debra Jeter can be heard on a 911 dispatch tape released Wednesday imploring the operator to speed an ambulance to the abandoned house in Hill County where she used a knife in an attack that left her younger daughter dead and her older daughter badly wounded.

“I just killed my children,” Jeter told the dispatcher.

Then she said, “One of them is still alive, hurry.”

“Get an ambulance out here to save the one that didn’t die,” she said.

“Come on, hurry up.”

Later she can be heard saying, “Oh my God, she’s dead. Oh My God."


Chilling 911 tape documents aftermath of child's murder

By Debbie Denmon -

May 26, 2010

A Hill County woman who killed one daughter and seriously wounded another in a violent knife attack last June will spend the rest of her life in prison with no chance for parole.

Debra Janelle Jeter of Hillsboro accepted a plea deal this week. On Wednesday, her chilling 911 call was released, documenting the moments immediately following the murder.

OPERATOR: Hill County 911. What's your emergency?"

JETER: "I just killed my children."

OPERATOR: "Excuse me?"

JETER: "I just killed my children."

Police found Jeter and the body of her 12-year-old daughter Kelsey in an abandoned house off Highway 77. Kiersten, then 13, was bleeding and barely holding on following the attack by her mom.

JETER: One of 'em is dead. She's dead dead. But the other one... she wants to be saved and I... she needs to be saved."

Jeter appeared to panic, asking the 911 operator to send an ambulance.

JETER: "One of 'em is still alive. Hurry!"

All the while in that abandoned house, the critically injured daughter was begging for help, and Jeter was heard providing reassurance on the 911 recording.

JETER: "Hold on kid; they're coming. Tell them not to shoot me. I don't have a gun."

OPERATOR: "OK. She doesn't want to get shot, 'cause she doesn't have a gun."

The murder weapon was a knife. Jeter surrendered to police after killing her younger daughter and appearing to understand what had just happened.

JETER: "Oh my God. She's dead. Oh my God."

Debra Jeter was supposed to be spending time with her teenage daughters. Now she will spend life in prison after doing the unthinkable during a first-time custody visit while in the midst of a divorce.


Debra Janelle Jeter

May 2010


This week in Hillsboro, Texas, a plea agreement was made, meaning life in prison without parole for a 33-year-old central Texas woman over the brutal murder of one of her daughters and severely wounding of the other.

Debra Janelle Jeter pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to capital murder and attempted capital murder.

One year before

In May of 2009 Lester Lee Jeter filed for a separation from his wife and mother of two daughters Debra Janelle Jeter. The exact reason for the separate has never been revealed in detail, but Steve Raulston, a 56-year-old lumberyard worker, who lived down the street from the Jeter family, admitted to having called the police a few times on the residents in the single-story, unkempt house on the corner. “It was a noisy house, and other neighbors also had called police”, he said.

For whatever the reason Lee Jeter had filed, Debra Jeter took the news very hard. . Shortly after Lee’s request, Debra attempted suicide at their 101 Brazos St. house and received psychiatric treatment at the DePaul Center in Waco, according to court records.

Court records were filed on May 22, the day after Debra’s suicide attempt at the family's house in Hillsboro, reveal that there was worry about putting the girls' care in their mother's hands.

In those records, Lee Jeter, filed for divorce and was granted a temporary restraining order against his wife. Lee wrote to the court revealing that his wife had attempted suicide with the children at home and was under care and observation at the DePaul Center on a mental health warrant. Lee Jester also explained further concern that "She may be released within a few days, and I am concerned about her possible actions regarding the children," The documents state that he requested custody "to protect the safety and well-being of the children and any other person who has been a victim of family violence committed by (Jeter)."

While Lee Jeter’s request where held for the duration of his wife’s hospital care, a short time later, in fact  the day before Debra’s visit with her two daughters, a hearing was held. The judge decided to lift a restraining against Debra and allow her to see her children. Lee admits he agreed with the judge, claiming Debra had showed no resentment toward her children, nor had she ever put either in harm’s way.

They Were Happy to See Their Mother

The girls seemed to be excited about the decision. It had been 14 days since they last saw their mother. In news of the decision, little Kelsey 12yrs expressed her happiness on her my-space page, "I get to see my mom tomorrow! Yay!" she wrote.

The day after a restraining order against Debra Jeter was lifted; the 32-year-old picked up her 12- and 13-year-old daughters at 6 p.m. Friday and told them she had a surprise. The girls told their dad goodbye, and authorities say the two were excited to get into the car with their mom and find out what her surprise was.

She Had Evil Intentions

The two girls had no idea that their own mother had vicious and evil intentions. Three hours after they said goodbye, both girls were found bloodied in the bathroom of a sprawling, abandoned ranch house. Their throats had been slashed. Hill County Sheriff Jeffrey T. Lyon, his voice cracking, called the scene "horrific." Inside the abandoned house at 215 U.S. Highway 77 in rural Hill County, Kelsey Leeanne age 12, a Girl Scout, honor roll student and member of the band, was dead. Kiersten Leigh was clinging to life. It was recently revealed by Kiersten that her mother came after her with a knife first. While under attack, she yelled for her sister run. Debra released Kiersten, wounded, and charged Kelsey.

Their mother calmly called 9-1-1 just after 9 p.m. and told dispatchers she had just killed her two daughters,Kiersten can be heard faintly in the background of the call. Debra Jeter’s responses to her daughter indicate the teen was saying she needed help right away. But instead of tending to her daughter’s knife wounds, Jeter, a nursing student, told the dispatcher she was walking around the house.

“Hold on, baby,” Jeter tells her daughter.

“One of them is dead,” Jeter says on the tape, referring to 12-year-old Kelsey. “She’s dead, dead. But the other one wants to be saved. . . . She’s asking to be saved, and I couldn’t handle that. She’s bled out a lot. She might die.” "Hurry up are they coming?", "Oh no she is dead, hurry up". When deputies arrived on the scene, they find Jeter, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 195 pounds, with both hands in the air, holding a cell phone. A knife was lying on the roof of a nearby car. Debra was put on suicide watch at Hill County Law Enforcement Center and arraigned on charges of attempted capital murder and murder. Her bond was set at $1.5 million.

Inside little Kelsey had in fact, not lived through her mother’s attack. The eldest daughter Kiersten was clinging to life. A medical helicopter took her to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where she immediately underwent surgery.

Many Were Shocked

So many were stunted by the attack, according to Debra Hargrove, associate vice president of human resources and organizational development at Hill College, Debra Jeter had been a part-time employee of the college during the last fall semester as a tutor in anatomy and physiology. In December, she was accepted into the college's LVN, or licensed vocational nurse, program, and turned it down, saying she wanted to become a registered nurse, Hargrove said. She said counseling services have been made available to Hill College students and staff. "We are all just shocked and devastated," Hargrove said

J.C. Rogers, Kelsey's first-period history teacher at Hillsboro Intermediate School, had just seen the girl about a week ago when school let out for the summer.

Rogers said Kelsey was smart and quiet. She often finished her work before other students, he said. When children would talk to each other during class downtime, Kelsey was always reading Rogers didn't know what she was reading, just that she always had her nose in a book.

He'd catch the girl at her locker with a book in one hand, while her other was turning the dial of the lock.

He would see her reading while blindly walking through the crowded school hallways.

During parent-teacher conferences a few months back, Rogers commented on her love of reading to Kelsey's mother.

Debra Jeter had laughed, he said, telling him how her youngest daughter had told the family she was going to take a bath, but she found her a while later, reading in the bathroom while the water was running.

Because Rogers' wife is a nurse, Kelsey often came into first period bragging about how proud she was of her mother for studying nursing, he said.

"I'll really miss having her in class," said Rogers, who has three daughters. "She really was a nice little girl."

Family members have set up a fund at Citizens National Bank in Hillsboro to help Lee and Kiersten Leigh Jeter. It is listed under "Jeter Family Fund".


Mother Charged In Deadly Attack Said She Had “Surprise” For Daughters

June 9, 2009

HILLSBORO (June 8, 2009)—Lee Jeter, the father of a Hillsboro girl who survived a brutal attack Friday night in which her younger sister died, is keeping an around-the-clock vigil at the Dallas hospital where his daughter is being treated, a family friend said Monday.

Meanwhile his estranged wife Debra Jeter, 32, who’s charged in the murder of one of her daughters and attempted murder of another daughter, was on a suicide watch Monday in the Hill County Jail in Hillsboro.

Debra Jeter is charged with murder and attempted capital murder.

Her bond is set at $1.5 million.

The 13-year-old survivor of the attack, Kiersten Jeter, was in stable condition Monday and out of the intensive care unit of Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

Her 12-year-old sister Kelsey died of her wounds.

The two girls were stabbed Friday evening, after their mother picked them up from their father’s home and told her estranged husband she had a surprise for them.

Investigators say Jeter had told her children she had a night of surprises in store for them. She is said to have described an evening of singing American Idol songs and book readings to her daughters.

Four hours later a woman who refused to identify herself called 911 and told the operator she had just killed her children.

Hill County deputies, Hillsboro police and state troopers went to an abandoned farm house on U.S. 77 just off Interstate 35 and found Jeter standing just outside of the garage with her hands raised above the head.

Hill County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyon said Monday Jeter had blood on her arms, but appeared to have tried to clean herself off.

Her car was in the garage and on its roof deputies found a small knife.

Officers found the 12-year-old girl dead inside the house and the 13-year-old critically injured in a bedroom.

Their throats had been slashed.

Lyon said Monday the older daughter, Kiersten, had a stab wound in her back and evidently tried to protect her younger sister during the attack.

He said Debra Jeter and her estranged husband were in the middle of a divorce and said that she was picking up the girls Friday evening for the first time under the terms of a custody order.

He said investigators think she had been living with her mother in Malakoff, which is northeast of Corsicana.

But Lyon said Monday investigators reviewed cell phone records and determined that after picking up the two girls Friday evening, Debra Jeter drove to Corsicana and back, evidently in search of an abandoned house.

He said authorities responded to a 911 call from Jeter’s residence reporting an overdose on May 21.

He said Debra Jeter was referred to the Waco-based Heart of Texas Region MHMR after the 911 call, but said he didn’t know what happened after that.

Funeral arrangements for the younger girl won’t be made until Kiersten is out of the hospital, the friend said.

The family says memorial donations may be made to Paw Pals in Hillsboro because Kelsey loved animals.

Funeral donations are being accepted at Marshall and Marshall funeral home and funeral and medical donations are being accepted at Citizens National Bank.

Counselors were available Monday for classmates, Hillsboro ISD officials said.


Records: Mom who slit daughters' throats had history

By Chris Hawes -

June 8, 2009

HILLSBORO - A mother admitted to slashing both of her daughters' throats less than four hours after picking them up for visitation, authorities said.

Investigators said they believe that Debra Janelle Jeter brought her 12 and 13-year-old daughters to an abandoned home with the intentions of killing them Friday night. After slitting both of their throats, Jeter called 911 and said she had "just killed her children," authorities said.

The 12-year-old, Kelsey, was found dead inside the house, and her 13-year-old sister, Kiersten, was found injured in a bedroom.

Now, details have arisen that reveal there were warning signs dating back years ago. Just a couple weeks before the fatal attack, the girls' father told a judge that he was worried about what she might do to the children.

On her MySpace Thursday, Kiersten had proudly written "I GET TO SEE MY MOM TOMMORROW!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!"

"[The mom] had told the father that she had a surprise for them and was taking them out," said Sheriff Jeffrey Lyon, Hill County Sheriff's Department.

But, the father was worried about his daughters. Two weeks earlier, Jeter had tried to kill herself in front of the girls.

"There was a fire truck and ambulance down there, and they said she had taken some pills," said Steve Raulston, a neighbor.

According to court documents, she was sent to a mental health hospital temporarily. Her husband asked for custody of the children.

However, it wasn't the first time there were problems. In 2004, investigators concluded that Jeter physically abused Kiersten, but closed the case after she got mental health help.

Kiersten's MySpace page revealed she was looking forward to her visit with her mother.

Still, Jeter was granted a court-ordered visit Friday.

"The father had custody up until Friday at 6 p.m.," Lyon said.

Authorities said Jeter picked up the girls, and for reasons investigators said she has still not explained, took them to a vacant home and slit both of their throats.

"We're beside ourselves," Lyon said. "The biggest question is, 'Why?'"

Jeter remains in the Hill County Jail with any bond set.

Kiersten's aunt said the girl is doing well. The family said they are grateful for the support they have been given and the donations that have been made at the Citizens National Bank.


Debra Jeter


Debra Jeter with his daughters.


Lee Jeter with his daughters Kelsey (l) and Kiersten before the attack.


The victim

Kelsey Leanne Jeter, 12.



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