The Killer and Mrs. Johnson

A gruesome crime. A bizarre defense. Can a crusading author reopen her best friend's case?

"I don't know whose fault it is," Scott says, "but I was under the impression they were going to try to get him into a youth camp. When I found out he was in Canon City, that just broke my heart."

Jacob Ind had it all mapped out in his mind, the magical way in which Kermode and Pamela Jordan would be removed from his life. It would be neat. Clean. Painless.

"It was supposed to be something I could sleep through," he recalls, sitting behind glass in a visitors' room at the Colorado State Penitentiary. "Bink! They're gone--just like hitting the delete button on a computer or something, like taking an eraser and rubbing them out."

He makes small rubbing motions on the counter in front of him. "But it was nothing like that," he says.

Ind is twenty years old now. He gets up at five in the morning and spends an average of 23 hours a day in his eight-by-ten-foot cell--eating, watching television, writing letters, thinking. He works out with a chin-up bar in a closet-sized recreation pen, and he greets visitors in a glass cage, speaking with a Texas yahoo accent he picked up from other prisoners several years ago.

He takes college Bible classes through the mail, but he says prison officials are trying to put a stop to it, just as they have intercepted the religious literature he'd been receiving from the Christian Identity movement (the study of white-supremacist theology is considered to be "gang-related activity"). He's on a waiting list for a required anger-management class, but since he's a lifer, he's not a priority. The other classes available to him in CSP, stuff like business management, "are nothing I can use," he says.

Ind boasts that a prison psychologist told him he was "perfectly normal." In fact, he's never had any psychiatric treatment since the night he killed his parents. Asked if he thinks he needs it, he returns a blank stare.

"I don't know," he says. "I never think about the past."
The past is a murky place for Ind. He claims to remember more now than he did right after the murders, but there are still many aspects of his life that he's vague about. "He's still a child," says Diana Sladek, a psychotherapist and trial consultant--and wife of Ind's new attorney--who's visited him frequently in the past few months. "He hasn't matured past fifteen, and in some ways he's younger than that. He still has a lot of confusion and a lot of fear."

But there is one assertion he's absolutely clear about: Lots of people, including several teachers, knew about the chaos in his home before the murders. Not about the sexual abuse, surely, but not just "put-downs," either. He and Charles told them about beatings. Fistfights. Mayhem. Stuff that teachers are obligated to report. And no one did anything, he says--hence the civil lawsuit Ind has filed against nine educators.

During his meeting with counselor David Greathouse a week before the slayings, he says, "I told him I wanted to harm my parents. He was so concerned about my household that he told a shrink from Penrose [Hospital] to talk to me. If he was that concerned, he should have called Social Services and told them to take a look."

Johnson says she was appalled to discover that when Ind "acted up" in class, he was often sent to peer counselors--other students who were supposed to report what kids told them to an adult supervisor. "Some of these kids have told me that they were counseling rape victims and doing other things they had no business doing," she says. "And for the last month or six weeks, the teachers all saw the deterioration in Jacob. He was asking several kids if they would help him kill his parents, and the teachers heard some of this stuff."

But Ind had difficulty asserting himself with teachers and counselors. "Adults," he says, "were God." That's why he let his lawyers handle his case the way they did, even though he didn't agree with it.

"I was Silly Putty," he says. "If they'd told me to plead guilty, I would have done it. I had no backbone when it came to adults."

At one point, he recalls, he called his lawyers from jail and insisted that he be allowed to testify. "They told me if I told the judge that I wanted to testify, they'd pack up all their stuff and leave me in the courtroom," he says. "That scared the hell out of me. I wanted to testify real bad, but I was afraid if I told the judge what they said, the whole trial would be down the tubes."

If he had testified, Ind says, he would have told the jurors a lot more about his parents--especially his mother. "They heard from a bunch of different people, but most of it didn't portray how I was feeling, what I was up against. My lawyers didn't really portray what my mom was like--what a mean lady she was, how she could fill someone with pure despair. She was a master of manipulation. She could make you feel like total shit."

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