Arizona

Man murders ex with heroin overdose for being an informant

October 20, 1976
Tucson, Arizona
Jimmie Wayne Jeffers murders his former girlfriend with an overdose of heroin

Jeffers discovered his ex-girlfriend, Penelope Cheney, was giving police information about Jeffers’ heroin transactions while he was incarcerated. Angry, he attempted to enlist a fellow inmate to perform a hit on Cheney, but the communication was intercepted by guards.

After his release, Jeffers lured Cheney to a motel with the promise of drugs. There he gave her a large dose of heroin but Cheney, a long-time drug user, didn’t die immediately. He climbed onto her unconscious form to beat her and strangle her with her own belt. His girlfriend at the time, Doris Van Der Veer, came into the hotel room as Cheney was being strangled and Jeffers commented “I’ve given her enough to kill a horse and this bitch won’t die,” and would punctuate each punch to the face with “this is for (name of a person Cheney reported to police).”

Jeffers checked Cheney’s pulse and determined she was dead, then forced Van Der Veer to inject more heroin into Cheney. He photographed Van Der Veer injecting Cheney as well as strangling her as proof she was an accomplice, likely to avoid any further snitching from his girlfriends. He then put Cheney’s body in the shower where it stayed for 3 days until he buried her in the desert.

When one of Cheney’s friends, a prostitute and drug user, complained to Jeffers about how she believed Cheney ratted her out to authorities, Jeffers said he had killed her. He then lured her into the hotel and reportedly held the woman at knifepoint until she injected herself with heroin. Later, when the woman was arrested for drug use and prostitution, she reported what she knew about Cheney’s murder, leading to Jeffers’ arrest and conviction. His last words were a “string of obscenities” and he died with his middle finger raised at witnesses to the execution.

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