IM this article to a friend!

July 31, 2003

Death ruled homicide; Leon is stunned, scared

From: Des Moines Register, IA - Jul 31, 2003

Register Staff Writer

Leon, Ia. - Based on the results of an autopsy, authorities ruled Wednesday that the death of a deaf Leon woman is a homicide.

Melody Sue Jeffrey, 42, was found dead in her home lying next to her bed around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday by Cecil "Joe" Jennings, 75, who identified himself as the woman's stepfather.

Susan Horney, 33, lives two houses north of Jeffrey's residence and runs a child-care center at her home during the day.

"I'm stunned. I don't know why anybody would want to do that to Melody," said Horney, who has an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter.

"It's scary to think that anybody would break into her home, and being this close to my home, it scares me to death."

Decatur County Sheriff Burt Muir would not disclose the cause of death or elaborate on the condition of Jeffrey's body.

"At this point in time the population pool is our suspect," Muir said. "This is something that is unusual for this town. It's not something that happens every day."

Leon residents throughout the day drove by, staring at Jeffrey's house.

Resident Micki Horn, 28, said she would never expect a crime like this to happen in Leon and expressed concern for the safety of her 4-year-old daughter.

"Never in Leon," Horn said. "I have a daughter and we moved back here because we thought it was safe. If he can target someone like her, who knows what he could do."

Family members fought to keep back tears as they spoke of Jeffrey on Wednesday afternoon.

"We cannot believe somebody could have performed such a heinous act as killing my sister," said Jeffrey's brother, Garry, 41, pausing to wipe his eyes.

"We just do not understand how somebody could have done this to a person who would not have hurt anybody."

Melody Jeffrey is survived by a daughter, Kara Buckingham, 22, of Grimes, a 2-year-old granddaughter and a 1-year-old grandson.

Copyright © 2003, The Des Moines Register.