Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Jessica McCORD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Child custody dispute
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: February 15, 2002
Date of arrest: 5 days after
Date of birth: 1971
Victims profile: Her ex-husband Alan G. Bates, 31, and his wife, Terra, 30
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Hoover, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on April 25, 2003
photo gallery 1 photo gallery 2

Jessica McCord and her ex-husband Alan Bates had a bitter divorce, and an even more bitter custody battle over their two young daughters.

Both Jessica and Alan had remarried: Jessica to a police officer she met while working as a secretary for the Birmingham Police Department, Alan to a co-worker in a Maryland theater company.

In the seven years following their divorce, Jessica had repeatedly tried to deny Alan visitation and contact with his daughters, moving frequently and having her phone number changed so he couldn't call. When Alan flew to Birmingham from Maryland in February of 2002, he and Jessica would have their final showdown over their daughters. They met in a lawyer's office to hammer out a new custody agreement.

Later that afternoon, Alan and his wife went to the McCord's home to pick up the girls, but Jessica had a different plan. She lured them into the back of the house, where her police officer husband shot them both multiple times. The McCords then set out to create an alibi, buying theater tickets and visiting Home Depot. Afterwards, they drove the Bates' rental car several hours into Georgia, with the bodies in the trunk, and torched it.

When police discovered the bodies, it didn't take long to trace the Bates' movements back to the McCord home. Crime scene techs found traces of blood, a bullet that matched a bullet found in one of the bodies, and evidence of a cleanup.

At her trial, prosecutors claimed that Jessica was a vindictive woman with a history of violence against her ex. The defense could only find one character witness to speak in Jessica's favor: her mother. The jury found her guilty and sentenced her to life.


McCord sentenced to life without parole in slayings

Gadsden Times

April 27, 2003

Birmingham - A judge has sentenced an Alabama mother of five convicted of murdering her ex husband and his wife to life in prison without chance of parole.

Jessica McCord did not speak on her behalf before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Virginia Vinson handed down the sentence Friday. She also refused to comment to the media the proceeding. McCord of Hoover was convicted in February of capital murder in the February 2002 slayings of Alan and Terra Bates of Frederick, Md.

McCord and her husband, former Pelham police officer Jeff Kelley McCord, were charged in the deaths of the Bateses, who were found shot to death and stuffed in the trunk of their burning rental on Feb. 16, 2002, in rural Georgia.

Jessica McCord and Alan Bates were involved in a dispute over visitation rights with two children they had when they were married.

Defense attorney John Wiley said they were pleased that Vinson did not opt to set aside the jury's recommendation for sentencing in favor of the death penalty.

"The death penalty is wrong in any case and this case is no exception, so we're very pleased  and relieved that Mrs. McCord is delivered of that possibility of being killed by the state of Alabama," Wiley said. The defense will appeal McCord's guilty verdict, he said.

Jeff McCord, pleaded guilty last week to avoid trial and the death penalty. He was given two life sentences and will be eligible for release in 24 years. After the plea Jeff McCord met privately with prosecutors to describe how he and his wife killed the Bateses. He also promised to testify against his wife or anyone else connected to the case if needed.

"Alan and Terra's families are pleased," prosecutor Roger Brown said of the sentencing.


Jury convicts McCord of capital murder

Monday, February 17, 2003

A jury has convicted 31-year-old Jessica McCord of capital murder in the shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his new wife in a child custody dispute.

The guilty verdict Saturday came exactly a year after Alan and Terra Bates of Frederick, Md., were shot four times each, and their bodies were stuffed in the trunk of a rental car, ditched in rural Morgan County, Ga. and burned.

"It's just a little bit of poetic justice," said Amy Pleasant, a longtime friend of the victims. "It's a very symbolic day."

McCord's husband, Jeff Kelley McCord, was in his jail cell when the verdict was announced. He faces trial in April in the slayings, also on two counts of capital murder. The killings in February 2002 followed a bitter custody dispute over the two daughters shared by Alan Bates and Jessica McCord. Bates repeatedly was denied visitation with Gabrielle, now 12, and Madeline, 10, and was seeking permanent custody.

Jurors return today in the penalty phase of the trial. The jury will recommend either the death penalty or life in prison without parole for the mother of five. The judge isn't bound by that recommendation.


Plot revealed in grisly Morgan County discovery

Custody murders

By Stephen Gurr -

April 16, 2003

Authorities discovered the bodies of Terra and Alan Bates in a wooded area in the small community of Rutledge on Feb. 16, 2002. The Bateses had rented the car in Birmingham, Ala., and were scheduled to attend a child custody hearing in Atlanta when they went missing. This week former Pelham, Ala., police officer Jeff McCord, 32, pleaded guilty to the murders in Jefferson County, Ala., and was sentenced to life in prison. He and his wife, 31-year-old Jessica McCord, had been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with the Bateses.

The killers of a Maryland couple whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in the trunk of burning car in rural Morgan County last year apparently chose the location off Interstate 20 at random, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Authorities discovered the bodies of Terra and Alan Bates in a wooded area in the small community of Rutledge on Feb. 16, 2002. The Bateses had rented the car in Birmingham, Ala., and were scheduled to attend a child custody hearing in Atlanta when they went missing.

This week former Pelham, Ala., police officer Jeff McCord, 32, pleaded guilty to the murders in Jefferson County, Ala., and was sentenced to life in prison. He and his wife, 31-year-old Jessica McCord, had been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with the Bateses over two young daughters that Alan Bates and Jessica McCord shared from a previous marriage.

Jessica McCord was convicted in February of two counts of murder in the case and is expected to be sentenced next week to a jury-recommended sentence of life without parole. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty.

Authorities believe the couple was shot to death at the McCords' residence in Hoover, Ala., when the Bateses came by to pick up the children, then their bodies were stuffed into the trunk of their rental car and driven into Georgia along I-20, according to Jefferson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Roger Brown.

''That was the direction Alan and Terra were going to be heading,'' said Brown, who spoke at length with Jeff McCord about the plan following McCord's guilty plea. ''It was supposed to look like a carjacking and murder.''

Brown said Jeff McCord drove the rental car, following his wife to the I-20 exit in Morgan County, where they searched for a place to dump the bodies. The killers apparently chose an area near an undeveloped tract of hunting land at random.

''They just tried to find an insolated spot,'' Brown said.

While investigators looked into the landowner, who lived south of Birmingham and was suspected of having ties to Jeff McCord, ''it turned out to just be a coincidence'' that he owned the property in Morgan County, Brown said.

''We investigated that angle thoroughly, and there was no connection.''

Brown said Morgan County sheriff's investigators turned up one piece of circumstantial evidence that was used at trial against Jessica McCord: a partially burned scrap of paper towel that had blown across the road from the arson site. The pattern on the paper towel matched paper towels found in the kitchen of the McCord home, Brown said. Investigators believe the paper towel was used to light the gas-drenched car.

The biggest piece of evidence against the McCords was a bullet that penetrated a wall in the McCord home and had been hastily covered up, Brown said. Ballistics tests matched the bullet with slugs found in the Bateses bodies, he said.

Brown said the murder plot ''was not a spur-of-the moment thing. It had been planned for several weeks.''


Pair faces charges in double homicide

By Stephen Gurr - Morris News Service

February 23, 2002

ATHENS, Ga. - An Alabama couple has been charged with murder in connection with the discovery of two burned bodies in the trunk of a rental car abandoned in rural Morgan County.

Jeff McCord, 31, and Jessica McCord, 30, were arrested at an Alabaster, Ala., home in the deaths of 31-year-old Alan G. Bates and his wife, Terra, 30, of Fredrick, Md., according to Jefferson County, Ala., District Attorney Roger Brown.

Jessica McCord is the ex-wife of Alan Bates, and the two had been engaged in a lengthy and bitter custody dispute over their two daughters, ages 10 and 12.

The Bateses flew from Maryland to Birmingham on Feb. 15 to give depositions in the custody case. Their bodies, burned beyond recognition, were discovered Feb. 16 off a remote road near the small Georgia town of Rutledge, about 30 miles south of Athens, in the trunk of a rental car that had been set ablaze.

Alan Bates was a production manager for Phoenix Productions in Maryland and had worked in theater in Birmingham, where he met his second wife.

Terra Bates, the granddaughter of former South Carolina state Rep. Ed Simpson, was studying to be a museum curator, her aunt Betty Simpson said. "We're all just crushed by this," she said.

An autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab in Decatur found that both Alan and Terra Bates had been shot repeatedly and died before the car was set on fire, Morgan County sheriff's officials said.

Morgan County District Attorney Fred Bright said Thursday the slaying was believed to have been committed in the Hoover, Ala., area where the McCords lived.

Morgan County authorities would have jurisdiction for only the less serious charge of arson, Mr. Bright said. The couple would be tried for murder in Alabama.

Mr. Brown said investigators believed Mr. McCord knew the landowner in Rutledge, an Alabama man.

"There was speculation that McCord may know the area from hunting, but it's just wild speculation," the district attorney said. "As far as I know, it was just a random location."

Mr. Brown would not discuss the state's theory on how the slayings were carried out and how the bodies were driven to Georgia. Hoover, Ala., police deferred all questions to the district attorney's office.

The McCords had been suspects in the slaying since Sunday, when their home was searched by Hoover police.

Mr. McCord, a Pelham, Ala., police officer, was dismissed from his job Wednesday after failing to report for a disciplinary hearing, the Birmingham News reported.


Woman suspect in double murder once was fired after attack

February 21, 2002

HOOVER, ALABAMA - A woman who is a primary suspect in the murder of her ex-husband and his wife, whose bodies were found in the trunk of a burned car, was fired from a police job in 2000 after attacking him.

The Birmingham News reported Thursday that Jessica McCord was fired by Birmingham Police Chief Mike Coppage for being absent without leave and a physical attack on Alan Bates.

"You went to the home of your ex-husband and you admitted you hurt him to keep him from hurting you," Coppage wrote in the termination letter.

McCord and her husband, Jeff Kelley McCord, have been identified by Hoover police as the primary suspects in the deaths of Bates, 30, and his wife, Terra, 31, of Frederick, Md. They were shot to death and dumped in the trunk of a rental car, which was found smoldering Saturday on the outskirts of Rutledge, Ga.

They had gone to Birmingham for a custody hearing Friday involving Bates' efforts to see his two daughters from his marriage to Jessica McCord.

Jeff McCord was fired as a police officer in Pelham after he failed to show up for a disciplinary hearing Wednesday morning.

The McCords declined comment after meeting later Wednesday with one of the state's most prominent criminal defense lawyers, David Cromwell Johnson, at his Birmingham office.

Johnson said he has not been hired by the McCords. He said they had been staying with relatives in Florida and that police knew where they had been.

"They're just trying to get away for a while, and I think they should," Johnson said.

Authorities have said the two daughters may have been with McCord family members Friday afternoon when Bates was supposed to pick them up. Court records show Jessica McCord repeatedly violated orders for Bates to be with his daughters and talk to them on the phone. She spent 10 days in jail in December for refusing to comply with a custody order.

The Birmingham News reported that the McCords, who met while both were working at the Birmingham Police Department two years ago, got their marriage license in neighboring Shelby County in June 2000. The News said the McCords pulled up their mailbox shortly after moving into their home in Hoover about a year ago and mail is not delivered there.

Alan Bates and Jessica McCord were divorced in 1995, with McCord granted physical custody of the girls and Bates given standard visitation rights. In November, Bates sought custody of the girls, saying he had been denied contact with his daughters for more than a year, including court-ordered weekly phone calls.

A March hearing date had been set on the issue of custody.


Jessica McCord: The Mother of Bitter Evil Ex Wives

By Kim Cantrell -

July 7, 2012

They couldn’t have been more opposites when they met in high school during 1989. Alan Bates was active in school activities and was considered popular by his peers. Jessica, on the other hand, was viewed as “Goth” and, even in a group of kids known for their antisocial natures, not completely accepted.

It made for great gossip when Jessica and Alan began dating, and the rumor mills were running at full speed when Jessica got pregnant and the couple was married in a rushed ceremony.

The Bates wouldn’t be the first teenage couple to marry under such circumstances, nor would they be the last, but it didn’t make life any easier for them but they seemed to make the most of it. Yet, there were times when Jessica had an overinflated sense of self-worth and Alan could never seem to do anything right.

Working to support his family and still trying to earn his college degree, Alan grew tired of Jessica’s very increasing demands and unreasonable expectations. All he wanted was peace and a little patience from his wife.

The only thing holding the couple together was their two daughters. Alan knew it, Jessica knew it. Alan loved his girls more than he hated his marriage, so he tried to tough it out. Jessica, alternatively, continued her foot stomping, princess act but added a helping of extramarital affairs to the mix.

It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. By 1994, it was time for Alan to toss in the towel.

And The Battle Begins

Domestic princesses are notorious for wanting their cake and to eat it too. Jessica was none too happy when Alan filed for divorce, but realizing her soon-to-be ex-husband wasn’t going to insist on custody of the girls and willing to pay child support, she softened up and things between the couple became amicable.

But any good post-divorce relations they had achieved disappeared when Alan met art historian Terra Klugh. Terra was the complete opposite of the woman in Alan’s life of the past few years. She was even tempered, exhibited class and finesse, and, best of all, she seemed to truly care about this girls.

Jessica Bates hated her and was unhappy with the idea of her children having a stepmother. Alan would pay for finding love again.

Alan and Terra wed in June 2000. You can almost Jessica saying, “Oh hell no!” Not to be outdone, in the same month, Jessica married Jeff McCord, a sheriff’s deputy she met through her job as a Birmingham Police dispatcher.

The real battle began with Jessica making excuses to shorten Alan’s visitation and placing prohibitions on what he could do or be around during his time with the girls. Although at first Alan tried to somewhat oblige her demands for the sake of the children, finally took the issues to family Court. There Jessica got a quick lesson in post-divorce control; that is, you have none.

The Court Orders meant nothing to Jessica and soon she was refusing Alan parenting time with his girls, usually by not being home at his scheduled time. Other times she moved and wouldn’t give Alan the address or she hid them at her mother’s house.

Again, Alan took the matter up before a Judge. Jessica was lectured and threatened not to interfere with Alan’s custody time.

Again and again and again Jessica ignored the Judge’s warnings. Again and again and again, Alan sought the help of the family court system. He shelled out lots of money time and again for Jessica to get nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

When Alan and Terra moved to Maryland the following year, Jessica stopped attending the hearings altogether.

Her contemptuous actions could no longer be ignored. In December 2001, Jessica was arrested on a Contempt of Court charge and ordered to serve ten days in jail.

When he and Jessica divorced, Alan had believed, despite their tumultuous marriage, Jessica was a good mother to the girls. He knew between work and school, he couldn’t be the kind parent they needed and felt Jessica was better suited. But in the years since the divorce, watching her use the children as pawns in a bitter game rooted in jealousy and seeing the effects on his children and his relationship with them, Alan decided it was time to right the wrong.

He decided to file for custody.

When All Else Fails, Try Murder.

Jessica McCord wasn’t stupid, she senses what was coming. She realized she’d pushed the Court as far as she could and her mommy-card was expired. She could not allow her girls to be raised by her and, quite frankly, she need that child support – she and Jeff had a mountain of debt and she was unemployed.

While serving her ten days for contempt, Jessica read a murder mystery and a plan began forming in a her mind; a plan that would ensure she never lose custody.

Alan was coming to Birmingham to participate in depositions pertaining to the custody case and he had made arrangements through his attorney to visit with the girls during this time.

On February 15, 2002, Alan and Terra flew into Birmingham International Airport and rented a car. The couple was anxious to reach the McCords because, once they picked up the girls, the family was going to visit Alan’s parents in Atlanta, Georgia.

When they reached Jessica and Jeff’s home, the found a note on the front door that read, “Come to the back. We’re having trouble with the front door.”

At the rear door, Jessica greeted them, invited them into the family room, and offered them a seat on the leather couch. Under the guise of getting the girls, Jessica exited the room.

As they waited, exchanging small talk among themselves and undoubtedly were weary by Jessica’s seemingly cordial demeanor, when suddenly Jeff entered the room and fired four shots into each of their bodies. It happened so quickly that there was no time to try and defend themselves.

Like a black widow spider, Jessica had lured Alan and Terra into her “web” then without any thought to how it would emotionally hurt her daughters or the couples families, she murdered them – well, she had her Sheriff’s Deputy husband do it.

Fortunately, the Bates girls weren’t at their mother’s home to witness the murder of the father and stepmother. Jessica had never intended to let them visit with their father and had arranged for them to stay with their grandmother (Jessica’s mom). The house was empty except for she and Jeff, and they immediately went to work with the last phase of the plan.

First, they loaded Alan and Terra’s bodies into the truck of the rental car. Next, they drove to a remote area just outside of Atlanta. Leaving the car in a field, they set it on fire believing it would destroy any evidence.

Returning to the Birmingham, Alabama, home, Jeff and Jessica began cleaning the crime scene. They stripped the blood-soaked leather from the couch frame, they replaced floor tiles, and wiped away blood splatters.

They thought they had committed the perfect crime.

They were idiots.


When Alan and Jessica didn’t arrive in Atlanta at the expected time, his parents weren’t too concerned; after all, Atlanta traffic can be a nightmare. But when their calls to the couples’ cell phones went unanswered as well as attempts to reach them at their Maryland home, the elder Bateses began to fear the worst. Philip Bates began phoning the police agencies and hospitals inquiring about his son and daughter-in-law. But it was to no avail.

During the early morning hours of February 16, 2002, a farmer called to report what he believed was a forest fire. When firemen and police arrived, they found a burning car instead of a forest fire. The theory the car had probably been stolen in Atlanta and taken for a joy ride became much more serious when they discovered the charred remains of two human bodies in the trunk.

The car fire had reached such high temperatures that the license plate had been melted off the car. However, it was intact enough for police to trace it and learn that it belonged to a Mavis Car Rental in Birmingham, Alabama. After that, it wasn’t much of a stretch to for Jessica to become the prime suspect in the murder of the couple of the trunk now identifed as Alan and Terra Bates.

Police immediately interviewed Jeff at work. He didn’t seem to concerned about the Bateses death or that he was being questioned about it. He told officers that Alan and his wife had never showed up to pick up the girls. He continued by saying he and Jessica had carried on with their belated Valentine’s Day plans after taking the girls to Jessica’s mother. He even produced two ticket stubs to a showing of Lord of the Rings.

When police spoke with Jessica at her mother’s home, she gave the same exact story; adding that she had called Alan’s cell phone once and left a message inquiring about where he was. Jessica said Alan never returned the call.

Investigator’s weren’t buying the couples’ story and obtained a search warrant for the McCord home. When they arrived at the McCord house on February 17, 2002, no one was home so they forced their way in. What they found was shocking.

It appeared someone had attempted to quickly “remodel” the family room. Police officers observed the new floor tiles. New wallpaper covered the walls, but it had clearly been done in a rush as it wasn’t even near being properly aligned. And when they removed it, there was an obvious bullet hole in the drywall. Then they discovered a small amount of blood on the glass coffee table.

Investigators knew they had discovered the crime scene. Using evidence found in the McCord home, police secured warrants for Jeff and Jessica McCord. But where were they?

Eventually investigators tracked the couple to a friend’s home. It was later learned that the McCords had left the state but soon returned to Alabama and met with an attorney.

The couple went quietly when police arrested them on two counts of first degree murder.

Justice Is Served

Although the case was mostly circumstantial, centered around Jessica and Alan’s bitter custody war, prosecutors believed the case was airtight. They were unwilling to talk about any plea deals with Jessica, but Jeff was another story.

Jeff McCord may not have been smart enough to tell his wife no when it came to murder, but he was smart enough to know he was going to prison and didn’t want to be labeled a snitch there. He refused to testify against his wife.

At her trial, Jessica took the stand and tried to convince the jury she was a victim as well. She told of how Alan was trying to take the girls way from her. She cried as she told how Alan was not the nice guy he portrayed himself to be in public and she’d frequently be subjected to his “dark side.”

The jury wasn’t buying what she was selling and on February 15, 2003, a year to the day that Alan and Terra were murdered, a jury found Jessica guilty of first degree murder times two.

During the sentencing phase testimony, Jessica never said she sorry instead choosing to still proclaim innocence. Her testimony focuses mainly on her children, which many believe ultimately saved her life as the jury opted for a sentence for life without parole.

Jeff McCord, the gunman in the murders of Alan and Terra Bates, was also found guilty and received life in prison but will be eligible for parole after serving only 25 years.



home last updates contact