On June 5, 2009, 32-year-old Debra Jeter slit the throats of both of her daughters in an abandoned house off of Interstate 77 in Hillsboro, Texas. Warning signs dated back several years. In 2004, authorities determined that Debra Jeter was physically abusing her older daughter, Kiersten, but the case was dropped after Debra Jeter received mental health treatment.
For reasons not disclosed, in May 2009, Lester Lee Jeter filed court documents to separate from his wife, Debra. Taking the separation badly, on May 22 Debra Jeter attempted suicide by consuming pills in front of her two daughters she had with Lester Jeter. Debra was temporarily institutionalized in a mental health facility. The day after the suicide attempt while Debra was still inpatient, Lester Lee Jeter filed for divorce, obtained a temporary restraining order, and was given temporary custody of his two children. In court documents, Lester Lee Jeter stated that “she may be released within a few days, and I am concerned about her possible actions regarding the children” and that he was requesting 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”. The day after her release, though, a judge lifted the restraining order and allowed for unsupervised visitation during a hearing. The first court ordered visitation was set for that Friday, June 5th, 2009.
After not seeing their mother for 15 days, 12-year-old Kelsey and 13-year-old Kiersten were excited to see their mother with Kelsey posting on her MySpace page “I GET TO SEE MY MOM TOMMORROW!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!”. Debra Jeter told Lester Lee Jeter that she had a surprise for the girls and was taking them out.
After picking up her daughters in the afternoon, Debra drove them to an abandoned house off Interstate 77 just past highway 35 towards Milford. Debra Jeter first attacked Kiersten with a knife. While fending off her mother, Kiersten screamed for her sister to run. This caused Debra to turn her attention from Kiersten and onto Kelsey. Kiersten was stabbed in the back while trying to protect her sister. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful, and Debra slit Kelsey’s throat and she died in the bathroom of the abandoned house. Debra returned to Kiersten and cut her from one side of the neck to the other, severing her airway and one of her main arteries.
Despite her severe injuries, she stayed alive and conscious and pleaded with her mother to get help. Three hours after picking up her children, Debra Jeter called police to report the crime saying, “I just killed my children”. Even though Debra Jeter was a nursing student, she did not tend to her daughter, instead walked around the abandoned house urging the ambulance to hurry up stating that her daughter that survived is “asking to be saved and she couldn’t handle it”. She also went on to ask the dispatcher to ask the police not to shoot her as she didn’t have a gun. The complete transcript can be read here.
Sadly, the sweet quiet book-loving Kelsey did not survive the attack. Kiersten was air lifted for immediate emergency surgery after being found in the bedroom of the abandoned house and survived. Debra’s explanation for her heinous actions was that she was “heartbroken” over the separation and the child custody battle. Her ex-husband, Lester Lee Jeter stated that Debra “figured if she felt that way, then we all must feel that way and she wanted to take away all of our pain”. After accepting a plea deal where she pleaded guilty to capital murder and attempted capital murder on May 27, 2010, Debra Jeter was sentenced to life without parole. The plea deal avoided the possibility of the death sentence and spared her surviving daughter from having to testify in court.