Charmin' Billy

William Cody Neal knew how to spin a story. Believing him was murder.

Angry, he drove Jennifer to his office at Dynamic Control. He made her sit in a chair in the middle of the room, then began the inquisition. While she was out, he'd gone through her things and found a list of men she'd slept with in high school. Cody told her it was proof that she was no good.

"Don't you know how this hurts me?" he screamed. Then he added something that didn't make sense. "I was molested by a preacher when I was young!" he yelled. This was another betrayal. "You're a slut -- a whore."

Jennifer was terrified and started to cry. Cody didn't seem like the same man. "If you're scared now, you don't know how evil I can be," he snarled. "You don't know the meaning of scared."

Life of the party: "Wild Bill Cody" Neal.
Life of the party: "Wild Bill Cody" Neal.
Rebecca Holderton, Candace Walters and Angela Fite all made fatal mistakes: They believed William Neal.
Rebecca Holderton, Candace Walters and Angela Fite all made fatal mistakes: They believed William Neal.


Previous Westword articles

"Judging the Judge,"
September 30, 1999
After a year on the Jefferson County bench, Brooke Jackson knows it can be a real hot seat.
By Steve Jackson

"Judgment Day,"
May 6, 1999
The state's first death-penalty panel spares the life of Robert Riggan.

It became a favorite saying. He took Jennifer back, but all of her high school yearbooks and diaries disappeared, never to be seen again. And the shop became what Jennifer thought of as the "punishing zone." He took her there often.

But while Jennifer had to follow the rules, Cody could behave anyway he wanted. He liked to go to the Stampede, a country-Western bar. He'd throw money over the railing onto the dance floor below and watch people scramble to pick it up. But that's not all he liked at the Stampede. While the dancers were picking up bills, he'd have his hand up the waitress's skirt, in full view of pregnant Jennifer.

She had quickly learned that Cody's sexuality wasn't all bubble baths and romantic evenings. His favorite television programming was the Spice Channel, which he insisted she watch with him. And she learned fairly quickly that he was still seeing some of the other dancers she thought she'd won him from, though he would always deny that he had been unfaithful. If she complained about his dalliances -- or anything else, for that matter -- he'd kick her out, force her to move back in with her mother. Sometimes he'd leave her there for weeks before telling her she could come back home.

Still, Cody married Jennifer when she was five months pregnant and demanded she stop dancing. That was all she'd ever wanted, and she hoped he would learn to trust her, realize that she was his and his alone.

Instead, there were more rules. Cody gave her a thousand dollars a week as "spending money," but she wasn't allowed to go anywhere unless she was with him (although they hardly went anywhere other than the Stampede or Western Sizzlin' Steakhouse) or chaperoned by one of his sisters who lived in Denver. She wasn't to go grocery shopping on her own or to the laundry. She was to leave him alone at work. She wasn't to question where he went at all hours of the night. Break the rules, and it was a quick trip to the "punishment zone" or back to her mother's.

Jennifer's daughter was born on July 24, 1993. Cody wasn't there. She'd called him when she went into labor, only to be told, "Goddamn it, I'm working." So she'd gone to the hospital with her little sister and mother in the late afternoon.

Cody showed up about 10 p.m. Jennifer still hadn't delivered, so he went to a bar. They didn't see him the rest of the night. The next morning he picked up Jennifer and the baby, took them home and then left.

If anything, the child gave him more control over her. Cody was constantly threatening to take her daughter away if Jennifer didn't do as she was told.

But no matter how hard she tried, Cody wouldn't let her be the wife she wanted to be. She wasn't allowed to cook dinner; on the rare occasions when he was home, he just wanted to order pizza. Even when Jennifer was home alone with their infant daughter, he was sure she was seeing other men. Once, Jennifer was taking a morning nap when she accidentally kicked the telephone off the hook. The next thing she knew, she heard the front door being kicked in and then Cody was standing over her in the bedroom, sure he'd caught her in the act.

The romance was definitely gone, replaced by sex on command, which he called "potty for Daddy." And Cody kept quizzing her about what she'd do if he wanted her to have sex with another man. She said she didn't want to. "But what if it would make me happy?" he'd ask. She recognized the question as another test. If she said yes, he'd call her a whore. She said no.

One evening two months after the baby's birth, he took Jennifer to Mon Chalet, an adults-only motel and swingers' meeting place on East Colfax Avenue. He insisted that she watch the videos piped into their room so that she could learn how to give a proper blow job and how to masturbate. After the videos, they went out to the pool area, where another man touched her leg. She told Cody, but he said not to worry about it, that "that sort of thing happens all the time here." She grew more uncomfortable when other people started having sex in front of her. Cody didn't object when she insisted on going to their room.

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