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Charmin' Billy

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

Back in their room, he told her he had a surprise. But first he insisted on blindfolding her, then tying her hands above her head. She went along to make him happy, even after he said he was going to open the curtains so that others could watch. He had obviously been here before -- the code, he explained, was that open curtains meant "watch," an open door meant "join." "I said okay, but that I didn't want to have sex with anyone else," she recalls. "I trusted him. But the next thing I knew, someone was inside of me, and it wasn't my husband."

Jennifer says she "freaked out" and started kicking and demanding that Cody get whoever it was off of her. The other man seemed as confused as she was angry. "I thought it was okay," he said as Cody made him leave. After that, Cody took her home. The next day he kicked her out again, saying he needed time to work and she needed time with her family. But she knew the real reason.

When she was allowed to return home, Cody's increasingly aggressive sexuality troubled her. More alarming still was her child's behavior. The baby had always enjoyed "tub time" until the day that Jennifer left her with Cody and went off with a friend. Cody said he'd given her a bath before putting her in bed; now the baby was fighting getting into the tub.

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.

Details


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"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.

Jennifer didn't want to think that Cody was capable of molesting his own child, but she mentioned it to his sister, anyway. The sister told her to be careful, that in the mid-'80s Cody had come under suspicion in a New York case involving a little girl abducted from a gas station, raped and killed. William Neal had been in the vicinity at the time and was questioned by the FBI. She understood that he'd been dropped from the list of suspects, his sister added. She didn't mention that Bill had molested another little girl when he was a boy.

By November 1994, Jennifer had had it with her husband. He'd left her and the baby without food or diapers, and of course she wasn't allowed to go get them. She hadn't seen him in three days when he called about 3 a.m. She could hear him talking to another woman.

"Don't forget to wear a condom," she said, and realized right away she'd made a mistake.

Angry, Cody said he'd be right home. Scared, Jennifer called the police so that she could safely pack her things and escape to her mother's. When Cody arrived, he wouldn't let her have a car. She and the baby took a cab.

Cody's mother was flying in for Thanksgiving to meet his wife and daughter. Cody came over to Jennifer's mother's house, told her she was going with him and to act like everything was okay. She did.

Like everyone else, Jennifer fell in love with Cody's mother. The old woman welcomed her with open arms and doted over her grandchild. Meanwhile, Bill's older sister, Sharon, took her to the basement of her home and lectured Jennifer about how to be a better wife. Jennifer knew better than to talk back. Next to his mother, Bill loved his sister best.

After Thanksgiving was over, Cody took Jennifer back to her mother's house, where she and the baby remained until May 1995. But Cody didn't lose track of her. He knew everything she did, whether it was shopping or going out with her sister. His calls, however, were always mushy and romantic. "I miss you, Half-Pint. I love you, Half-Pint." He just wasn't ready for her to come home yet.

In May, he finally asked her back. They were moving into a new apartment, he said, and she finally got to look in the locked room. It was filled with Army bags, but she couldn't tell what they contained. The only thing he showed her were hundreds of photographs and letters from other women. Still, Cody insisted that he was the one who was faithful.

They weren't in their new apartment a full day when Cody revealed that he'd narrowly escaped going to prison. He'd embezzled close to $70,000 from Dynamic Control Systems, he said, and had been forced to hand over his share of the company to avoid prosecution.

One day another woman came to the apartment looking for Cody. "He freaked out and ran outside and got her to leave," Jennifer recalls. "I was pissed and swore that I would never sleep with him again." This time she left him, taking only her daughter and a diaper bag.

She had no job and no money -- but at last she was through with Wild Bill Cody.

Jennifer saw Cody one more time after he filed for divorce in March 1996. It was their daughter's third birthday, and the girl wanted to see her daddy. Although he'd regularly paid his $350 in monthly child support, he'd made more personal contact only twice: He'd sent his daughter a card on Valentine's Day and another on her birthday.

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