Bobbi Jo Smith

I recently obtained several M. William Phelps books and the first one I read was called "Bad Girls."  Apparently by reading reviews this likely was not the best choice I could have made as many criticize it as not in the same style as his other writings and rather repetitious.  I have to agree with the latter.  However, you cannot enjoy or be involved in true crime issues and not know who Mr. Phelps is.  While Ann Rule will likely always be the most recognized name when it comes to true crime, Phelps is pretty high up there on the list.  He has made himself highly visible over the last several years being involved in many different shows on the Investigative Discovery (ID) channel, even having his own in which he hosts.  

As I do with all the stories that I post here I do not depend on just one source of information.  I had seen this story told in one of the many ID shows, Wicked Attraction and this book was really my only other real source before sitting down to do some research on the case.  The problem I found with this case, that while I found it very interesting, despite the fact that on the surface it appears to be cut and dry, was that aside from information Phelps gave, and a few court records I could not find a lot more on the case.  I will say though that what I did find did collaborate Mr. Phelps so, although it is unusual, I will have to depend more on his information from the book than I would normally do.  Normally this would be a case that after searching I probably would not have blogged about simply for the reason that I do not have a lot of sources to depend on. But again I think it is a much more interesting case than we can see just looking at the surface.

If you take a simple look at this case it is very simple.  Two 19 year old girls seemingly lure a 49 year old man with sex and then proceed to kill him, seemingly out of jealously and for whatever it seems they could take at the moment.  In the end both girls, Jennifer Jones and Bobbi Jo Smith were sentenced to prison.  Jennifer pleaded guilty and received a 48 year sentence while Bobbi Jo allowed her case to go to a jury and was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 50 years.

On May 5, 2004 Bobbi Jo's grandmother called her daughter, Kathy Cruz and her husband Richard and stated that Kathy's niece, Bobbi Jo Smith had just left her house with three other people but while there had announced that she had murdered Robert "Bob" Dow Jr. (although he was known as Bob, I will refer to him as Robert throughout to avoid confusion), a man most considered her "roommate." Richard Cruz proceeded to call the police and lead them to Robert's house in Mineral Wells Texas.  Upon arriving at the home investigators found Robert's bullet ridden body in one of the bedrooms of the home.  in another room was Robert's mother, an 86 year old invalid woman who it appeared had obviously been neglected over a period of time.

While the crime scene was still being investigated, authorities went to Dorothy's home to see what she could tell them.  She stated that her granddaughter, Bobbi Jo had arrived at her home with her lover, Jennifer Jones and three other women, whom she did not know.  She said that Bobbi Jo had told her that she had killed Robert and indicated that she would be "on the run" in Robert Dow's truck. Surprisingly, although there was an APB issued for Bobbi Jo (only her at first) as well as the truck, there did not seem to be any sort of large rush to bring her in.  Authorities soon discovered who Jennifer Jones was and found their way to her father, Jerry.  He willingly told authorities that apparently the other three women with Bobbi and Jennifer was his ex-wife (and Jennifer's mother), Kathy Jones, one of her other daughters, Audrey and Audrey's girlfriend Krystal.  Jerry told authorities that he would let them know if he was contacted by the women again.  In the meantime the women had taken off on a "road trip" more or less. At first it was said they were headed towards Mexico but either because they seemingly got turned around and lost, or because the plan changed they headed instead towards California.  The trip was not a fun one though apparently as it seems not everyone was getting along.  I will go into some of the many stories told of the "adventure" in a bit but the long and short of it is that somewhere in Arizona Bobbi Jo and Jennifer left the other three women.  They in turn had called Jerry Jones for money who called the authorities and the three women were picked up and brought in for questioning. Bobbi Jo and Jennifer continued on their way to California.  On the evening of May 8th Bobbi Jo had called her mother from California and told her exactly where she was supposedly in attempts to be captured and turn themselves in. Again authorities in Texas were notified and they contacted California police who in turn arrested Bobbi Jo and Jennifer.  By this time Kathy, Audrey and Krystal had spoken to police and indicated that while they were on their little road trip several stories had been told about the murder of Robert Dow and none of them seemed to be quite certain just which of the two girls had murdered him or exactly what happened so an arrest warrant had been issued for Jennifer also.  
Texas authorities went to California to await extradition and to interview the girls.  

By the time they were interviewed authorities had a lot more information about not just the two girls but also Robert Dow although none of it seemed to clarify a whole lot.  First, they knew that Robert Dow was the ex-stepfather to the man that Bobbi Jo had had a son with.  After Bobbi Jo and her son's father split up she had turned to drugs, alcohol and women and Robert Dow seemingly helped her in all those aspects.  In essence he became her dealer as he bought an abundance of drugs and alcohol and apparently had no problem sharing all that he had with Bobbi Jo and any of the women she brought to his house, of which he had two.  First he had a trailer, where apparently a lot of Bobbi Jo's things were at also but after Robert's brother had died Robert spent most of his time at his mother's house and he and Bobbi Jo did almost all of their partying there while his mother was locked in her room.  While providing drugs and alcohol to woman, many who were underage, authorities also discovered that Robert was some what of an "amateur pornographer" and would often be seen with a camera of some sort.  Dozens of photos and video's were found in his mother's home that showed many different women in compromising positions.  

In addition to knowing this information about Robert, they had also learned some things from Kathy, Audrey and Krystal.  First authorities were not all that unfamiliar with Kathy Jones.  She had been in and out of prison since Jennifer was a young girl for things such as drugs and robbery.  In fact, she had not been out of prison this last time but a short few months.  They also knew that at least Kathy and Audrey (and possibly Krystal although I could not confirm) had also partied at Robert Dow's house and had partaken in the drugs and alcohol provided.  They also knew that prior to Bobbi Jo and Jennifer dating, Audrey had dated Bobbi Jo and seemingly they had split up because of Jennifer.  More importantly to their case however the authorities were told by the three women, at least initially, that when Bobbi Jo and Jennifer had showed up at Jerry Jones' apartment in which they were staying Jennifer had announced that she had killed Robert Dow.  None of the three women said they believed it at first but soon realized it was likely true.  They said initially, before they all left in Robert Dow's truck the story they received was that Jennifer said that Robert Dow had raped her and that she had basically killed him in self defense.  Kathy says she encouraged her daughter to call the authorities but she refused.  They all seemingly then heard Bobbi Jo state she killed Robert Dow when they were all at her grandmother's house.  These are two of only the few things it seems that everyone eventually agreed happened or was said.  At this point the authorities were confused as to which of the girls had actually murdered Robert Dow and had gotten the warrant for Jennifer's arrest also.  

Each of the girls were initially interviewed when they were still in California. Seemingly the story that they both told (although slightly inconsistent with each other) was one in which Bobbi Jo and Jennifer stated they had concocted while in jail in California in attempts to basically get them both out of trouble. According to authorities, the stories that the girls told were not consistent with the evidence they had already gathered and so they knew that both girls were lying.  They asked the girls to take a polygraph test and as if right on cue as each girl was preparing to take her exam, she stopped, began to cry, admitted that they had lied in the previous statement and that they were ready to tell the truth.  The problem here is that this time their stories were vastly different so it was obvious that someone was not telling the truth.  Bobbi Jo later claimed that the story she gave in her second statement was yet another one that she and Jennifer had concocted together when they realized authorities were not buying the first statements.  She claims that this statement was still made in attempts to either save them both or make them both responsible but also hindered a lot on explaining the bad character of Robert Dow. The girls seemingly thought that the more people knew about Robert Dow, the less sympathetic they would be towards him and in essence just be glad the girls had taken him off the street. This way of thinking obviously showed their immaturity in knowing how things really work... even in Texas where they sometimes say some one "Just needed killin'."

In their second statements to the authorities they both stated that it was Jennifer that pulled the trigger while having sex with Robert Dow.  A few days prior the girls had both been arrested for shop lifting and Robert had bailed them out. Jennifer claims that Robert had expressed that he expected re-payment for this by Jennifer having sex with him. He had apparently been smitten with Jennifer for quite some time and the girl knew it but Jennifer supposedly (at least by her account) had never given in and had no desire. Bobbi Jo would later contend that Robert was interested in Jennifer but that it would have been unlike him to be demanding of Jennifer for sex and that her only knowledge of this actually occurring came from Jennifer herself.  In Jennifer's second statement she claims that she and Bobbi Jo had removed most of their things from Robert's home but had returned because he owed Bobbi Jo money from working with him in his construction business.  She also claimed that she told Bobbi Jo she was going to kill Robert because  he was in the way of them being together but then said she expressed she was not serious.  She says they entered the home together and while Bobbi Jo was talking with Robert she went into the bedroom and had obtained a gun, checked to make sure it was loaded and had hidden it by the side of the bed.  Bobbi Jo then left to go to the store.  Jennifer says she then told Robert that she was willing to "pay up" for him bailing her out of jail and they went into the bedroom where they proceeded to have sex.  At some point a pillowcase is placed on Robert's head and Jennifer proceeded to shoot him in the head several times.  She stated that Bobbi Jo came into the room several minutes later (Bobbi Jo would later claim to be returning from the store when she heard the shots) and was in shock that Jennifer had killed Robert.

In the meantime while Jennifer is telling this story to one officer, Bobbi Jo is in another room telling another story.  In her story she claimed that when they went to Robert's house the first time to gather their things, he was not there. Bobbi admitted to taking some guns but claimed that they were her guns that Robert had given her and that she had plans to later pawn them.  After going back to her grandmother's for a little bit in which she was also able to visit with her son for a bit she and Jennifer returned to Robert's house in which he was there.  She stated that on the way to Robert's house she gave Jennifer a gun in which she put in the back of her pants but she never indicates for sure why she gave Jennifer the gun.  Nor does she ever state that there was any conversation about killing him at any point.  However, in the process of course Robert was killed, by Jennifer in the bedroom.  Bobbi Jo continues to claim that this story was also a lie and one in which she and Jennifer had supposedly agreed upon.

Throughout the course of things both girls would go on to claim that both their first, and second statements to authorities, or anyone else for that matter, were not truthful and Bobbi Jo apparently says nothing more until she prepares for trial and then later apparently to M. William Phelps in the course of him writing his book.  Jennifer however proceeds to tell several more versions of what happened in the murder of Robert Dow.  Jennifer eventually pleaded guilty to the murder.  It seems that the law in Texas is that even when a defendant pleads guilty a jury must decide the sentencing.  At her sentence hearing, the prosecutor, who would later prosecute Bobbi Jo, claimed that Bobbi Jo's second statement was not true while in fact Jennifer's was.  He proclaimed she was the murderer (which no one disputed) and that she murdered Robert Dow out of jealously.  He claimed that Jennifer did not like Robert Dow and how he treated not just her and Bobbi Jo but all women and that she feared Robert had too much control over Bobbi Jo and that he would come between them.  The prosecutor was successful in convincing the jury and she was sentenced to 45 years.

The problem with this is that the prosecutor then not only changed his view when it came to Bobbi Jo when it came time to prosecute her, Jennifer also testified at Bobbi Jo's trial, changing her story again (this was the 4th or 5th version), saying that Bobbi Jo had convinced her to kill Robert Dow, supplied her with the gun and was in the home when the murder occurred.  At her trial the prosecutor was now claiming that Bobbi Jo's second statement to the police in which she stated she had given Jennifer the gun (without ever saying why) was the truth (after proclaiming at Jennifer's sentencing that it was not) and that Bobbi Jo was just as guilty as Jennifer in the eyes of the law.  Bobbi Jo did not need this perception made.  She already had the fact that she was a lesbian in her tiny conservative town in her large conservative state working against her.  She also had the issues that she admitted she was highly involved in drugs and that while Robert Dow was all but her supplier, he did so because she brought young girls to his home to allow him to video tape them so she already did not look good and her lawyer knew this.  Her lawyer did not do a horrible job at discrediting Jennifer, or her mother, Kathy, who testified (and also seemingly tried to put as much of the blame on Bobbi as she could although nothing could be proven).  Jennifer even admitted on the stand that her entire goal of testifying against Bobbi Jo at trial was in attempts to get her own sentence reduced.  She was now claiming that Bobbi Jo was involved in "witchcraft," "mind reading" and even claimed Bobbi Jo had the ability to cast spells on people.  Her lawyer pointed out the multiple stories that Jennifer had told to different people.  He even tried to get two people to testify that they spent time in jail with Jennifer who bragged about the murder and had told them what had happened and not once had mentioned Bobbi Jo's name but the judge said it was irrelevant and refused to allow them to testify.

The one thing the prosecutor did not do, and in fairness was not required to do, was establish a motive as to why Bobbi Jo would have wanted Robert Dow killed.  The prosecution case simply fell mainly on the second statement Bobbi Jo made, her comment to her grandmother and the testimony of Jennifer Jones. Realistically since it was proven in court that Jennifer had told multiple stories about the events, as well as admitted in court that she had volunteered to testify in hopes of getting a reduced sentence then it seems her testimony should have been ignored.  That would simply leave Bobbi Jo's statement and the statement her grandmother said she made.  Both of those statements were highly in question since Jennifer had readily admitted several times as being the shooter in front of several witnesses and most of Bobbi Jo's statement could be refuted. This hardly seemed enough to get a convicted but things did not turn out that way. In the end Bobbi Jo was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.  

In 2007 an appeals court upheld the conviction and sentencing despite at least two rather compelling arguments.  The first was the judge denying the testimony of inmates who stated Jennifer had re-told the story of the killing a few times and had never mentioned that Bobbi was there, had coerced her to do it or was involved in any way. The second was that if the court was going to hold Bobbi Jo's second statement as the truth they should have proven that when she supposedly gave Jennifer the gun that she did so knowing that Jennifer would use it to kill Robert Dow.  

There is no denying that Bobbi Jo was not an angel.  She readily admitted to being a drug user and going as far as bringing women over to Robert's mother's house so he could videotape them.  Her only brush with the law occurred just a few days before the murder when she and Jennifer were arrested for shoplifting. Bobbi Jo maintained then and now that Jennifer had stolen something without her knowledge and put it in her bag in which they were caught.  Jennifer on the other hand, had seen her fair share of law enforcement.  She had been brought in before for theft, more than once prior to that incident.  

It seemed easy for the jury to believe (although it was later supposedly proven to be untrue) that Bobbi Jo was the driving force in the relationship with Jennifer and that she had corrupted Jennifer.  First off, Jennifer and Bobbi Jo supposedly only knew each other for a total of 27 days prior to the murder. Prior to this time Jennifer was already severely into drugs and many stated that "Jennifer did what Jennifer wanted to do" and no one could control her so the odds of being controlled by Bobbi Jo seemed weak at the very least.  This relationship was Jennifer's first lesbian relationship and if one were to judge the two (as we as human's do) she was considered to be "the girl."  Jennifer was not Bobbi Jo's only female companion, even at that time, as both testified Bobbi Jo was involved with other.  Bobbi Jo also claims that Jennifer was involved with a male companion at that time also although it was never confirmed or discussed.  Bobbi Jo took on what people would consider to be the male counterpart of the relationship.  She had the short hair cut, she carried a wallet connected to a chain and just had the overall masculine appearance.  They were dealing with conservative Texas and her appearance, her lifestyle and her sexual orientation did not work in her favor with ordinary people.  As far as motive for Bobbi Jo... there does not appear to be one. Bobbi Jo has often said, that while it may seem strange and weird from the outside, Robert Dow was like a father figure to her.  She had known him for many years and was close to him.  Sure he was not the most stand up guy and he did not necessarily have Bobbi Jo's best interests at heart but she did not seem to be complaining.  He was providing for her the drugs and alcohol that she so desperately wanted and by this point likely needed.  Bobbi Jo had had several relationships with women while knowing Robert and he was never a threat to any of them or to Bobbi Jo. According to Bobbi Jo, she was not as much into Jennifer as Jennifer was into her and she was just another one in a long list of people she was involved with. Prosecutors tried claiming that Robert was killed by Jennifer at Bobbi Jo's pushing so that they could continue their relationship without his interfering.  This simply does not ring true.  To add to this Bobbi Jo had moved back in with her grandmother's from Robert's home more than once.  She always seemingly went back because Robert asked her to but she did not have to stay there so if she wanted to "get away" from Robert and continue any relationship she wanted that would not have been a problem.  Additionally if she simply wanted Robert out of the way and out of her life, why go straight to murder? Robert was doing enough things that could have easily gotten him jail time and got him out of their hair for a while or at the very least made it to where he would not bother them anymore.  There was easy proof that he was photographing underage girls in sexual acts, or supplying drugs, or even neglecting his elderly mother.  Bobbi Jo's appeal addressed the lack of motive issue as well as pointed out that Jennifer had stated her motive was to remove Robert from the equation as she feared he would come between the two of them.  The Appeals Court ruled that Jennifer's motive, for the murder or for testifying for that matter, did not play an issue in Bobbi Jo's case as she had pleaded guilty.  This just seems so contradictory.  If we are to believe that these two girls worked together and were both involved (although admittedly Jennifer did the actual shooting) then we have to come up with a reason, don't we? 

Going with proof of guilt only the best that I see that can be proven that Bobbi Jo was in fact guilty of would have been an accessory after the fact and harboring a fugitive, although the latter would be hard to prove when in fact Jennifer was not considered to be a fugitive for the majority of the time on the run as the authorities were looking for Bobbi Jo.  As Jamie Foxx said in Law Abiding Citizen.... "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." That does not seem to be the case here.

Did Robert Dow deserve to die?  Absolutely not, at least not in the manner in which he was.  Was Robert Dow likely the scum of the earth?  Yeah, pretty much.  But the only person with a motive, no matter how convoluted it may seem, was the person who shot him... Jennifer Jones.  Bobbi Jo Smith had no reason to kill Robert Dow and while I could argue she had no reason to lie, she did anyway.  Bobbi Jo Smith did not have the background that psychology has shown is often present in cases like this.  Jennifer Jones did. By all accounts Bobbi Jo, while struggling with addiction and not a very good mother to her son that she would leave for stretches at a time, was a caring person who would have done anything she could to help others.  Character witnesses did not say the same for Jennifer.  So why did she lie and cover for Jennifer, if in fact you believe that to be the case.  Most believe because that was the type of person that Bobbi Jo was.  Although she had a good relationship with Robert, she also knew his vices and if we are to piece together things and believe her, she may very well have believed that Robert was raping Jennifer and she had defended herself but knew that would not likely fly in the face of authorities and wanted to help her friend.  According to her the first two statements she gave to authorities were both concocted by both she and Jennifer in order to help them both.  

Prosecutors will tell you that they do not get to pick their victims, or their witnesses.  Most agree that when you are dealing with people who are willing to kill, you're dealing with people who do not necessarily have the best circle of friends, or sometimes family.  Prosecutors in this case had two drug addicts as their prime suspects.  Their victim was likely a pedophile, drug dealer. The people surrounding them were going to be people similar to them.  They are not going to be law abiding, trust worthy people.  The other three people that were on the run with Bobbi Jo and Jennifer were not only addicts themselves who had partied with the victim but two of them were directly related to Jennifer and the third was in a relationship with her sister (Audrey claims she was or had ended things with Krystal just prior but that she had gone with them on the road trip as she was at the apartment when Jennifer and Bobbi Jo showed).  But regardless of anyone's lifestyle proof should be required for a conviction.  When we start convicting people on evidence of people who not only are known liars but have been known to lie multiple times about a particular suspect without any proof there's an issue in our justice system that needs fixed.  

Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this. I agree with your findings. Bobbi Jo Smith was overcharged. William Phelps excellent book provides an excellent account of the crime and trials.

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