Did Jeff Pelley actually bloodbath his household?
For 32 years, most individuals have thought the sullen Lakeville, Ind., teenager killed his pastor father, stepmother and two little half-sisters within the grisly tragedy referred to as “The Prom Night Murders.”
But a just-released 20-episode podcast, Counterclock, digs deep into the homicides and means that Pelley’s father had a shady past in south Florida involving ties to drug cartels and killers which may have caught up with him in Indiana — and that his son might need been doomed by a flawed trial.
The our bodies of the Rev. Robert Pelley, his spouse Dawn, and Dawn’s daughters Janel and Jolene, ages 8 and 6 respectively, had been discovered shot at shut vary with what was believed to be the household shotgun on the night time of April 29, 1989. The grotesque discovery of their house was made the subsequent morning — hours after the highschool promenade — by parishioners of close by Olive Branch Church.
At first police thought Bob Pelley killed his household and turned the gun on himself.
But the case was by no means closed and cold-case detectives grew to become more and more suspicious of Jeff. He was lastly arrested in 2002 on the age of 34, married with a toddler and dealing for IBM.
Prosecutors on the time claimed the then-17-year-old Jeff was indignant that his father, as punishment for unhealthy conduct, forbid him from driving to the dance and from going to after-prom actions. They mentioned he dedicated the murders, then drove away in his 1984 grey Ford Mustang, picked up his date Darla, and went to the promenade on the native Elks Lodge.
Pelley was convicted of 4 counts of homicide in 2006 and sentenced to 160 years in jail. He is serving time at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Terre Haute, Ind.
But Jeff Pelley was convicted on purely circumstantial proof. The homicide weapon was by no means discovered, nor had been there any shell casings discovered on the scene.
The most compelling proof provided to the jury, in accordance to the podcast, was witness testimony from neighbors and church members who mentioned that Bob Pelley advised them that the one method Jeff may attend the promenade was if he drove him and that he wasn’t going to permit him to go to after-prom actions. The proven fact that Jeff drove himself to the promenade and went to the post-prom indicated to them that he will need to have murdered his household to achieve this.
Pelley’s conviction was even briefly overturned on enchantment in 2008 earlier than being reinstated. He has at all times maintained his innocence and his lawyer, Frances Watson, who’s a professor at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law and a wrongful conviction specialist, goes to court docket June 25 for a standing convention to ask the choose to grant a brand new evidentiary listening to that Pelley hopes may lead to a brand new trial.
Watson has requested prosecutors for objects of proof that had been taken from the crime scene in 1989 that Jeff’s trial legal professional in 2006 was by no means given. Watson particularly needs them to flip over Bob Pelley’s digital camera, which she believes include images taken them on promenade night time.
Watson advised The Post there may be different proof by no means introduced to the jury — a reputable witness named Toni Beehler who went to police in 2003 after Jeff Pelley’s arrest and suggested of a dialog she had had with Bob Pelley by which he mentioned he was scared that he and his household can be killed on account of his past actions in Florida.
The podcast host and producer, investigative reporter Delia D’Ambra, spent a year wanting into the murders, together with hours visiting individuals accustomed to the case in Lakeville and poring over greater than 6,000 paperwork.
D’Ambra is cautious not to say outright whether or not she thinks Jeff Pelley is harmless or responsible however mentioned she delved deep into Bob Pelley’s former life in Fort Myers, Fla., the place he oversaw the computer processing part of all the Landmark monetary establishment community, a notorious bank which on the time had been concerned with cocaine trafficking from South America and money laundering.
“He worked at the central processing hub with these connected banking institutions and the feds called it a ‘candy factory,’” Watson advised The Post.
D’Ambra discovered much more individuals who had intel about Bob Pelley’s darkish facet.
“There are witnesses who have come forward to say that Bob Pelley left Florida because he was afraid of people there related to activities going on at the bank,” D’Ambra advised the Post. “He moved from Florida to Indiana very abruptly in 1986.”
“I think Pelley left to remove himself from the situation,” D’Ambra mentioned. “I think he was fearful and knew something he shouldn’t have known.”
At the identical time, Bob Pelley was pals with individuals from his Florida church (he was only a parishioner on the time) who had ties to an area actual property developer, Eric Dawson, who was murdered execution-style in 1988 in a still-unsolved case. Dawson did most of his business at Landmark Bank.
D’Ambra mentioned she believes Jeff Pelley’s trial was “botched” as a result of proof and data involving Bob Pelley’s past was by no means investigated.
Pelley’s stepsister, Jessica, wrote a memoir in 2019 known as “I Am Jessica” describing how she was bullied by Jeff after her widowed mom, Dawn, married Bob Pelley. Jessica was away at a sleepover the night time her household was killed and signifies in her guide that she thinks Jeff killed the household.
Jeff’s organic sister, Jacque, was additionally out of the home that night time, however believes Jeff is harmless and maintains a web site, Justice for Jeff, by which she says cops failed to even fingerprint the crime scene.
Says Watson, “At first read, one asks did he do it? But once you start turning over the rocks you find facts that distinctly point toward Jeff’s innocence. It’s a crazy story.”