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Home celebrity Jeff Pelley Bio: Was Pelly A Suspect of His Family Murder?

Jeff Pelley Bio: Was Pelly A Suspect of His Family Murder?

chand Published On Wed Mar 16 2022   Modified On Wed Mar 16 2022
Jeff Pelley Bio: Was Pelly A Suspect of His Family Murder?

Jeff Pelly is known to be one of the most famous names of1989 because of one of the most brutal murder cases of the Pelly family in Lakeville, Indiana.

Pelly was just a suspect in his family's murder case and was set free in 1989, but he was convicted for killing his family after three decades. 

About Pelly

Jeff was born to Robert Lee Pelly and Ava Joe Armstrong in 1971. Then in 1976, his parents gave birth to his little sister Jaque Pelly

Jeff Pelly with his classmates.
Jeff Pelly with his classmates.
Source: CBS News

How did Pelly's Parents Meet?

Jeff Pelly's parents, Robert Lee Pelly and Ava Joe Armstrong, got married in the '70s after they met and fell in love with each other when they were students at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio.

Pelly family first moved to Florida in the late '70s, first to Orlando and then to Cape Coral, because Robert had found a job in Computer programming for a telephone company. But later, Robert switched his career and started to work for a bank. 

Pelly's Mother's Death  

In 1984 Jeff Pelly's mother was diagnosed with skin cancer, which eventually led to her death on February 24, 1985, at 34 years old.

Robert's Strong Behavior Towards His Children

Pelly's mother died when he was just ten years old, and his father didn't even let him or his sister cry over their mother's death. Robert was a strict disciplinarian and had rules about expressing emotions.

How Did Pelly's father Meet His Stepmother And Move To Florida?

Around the death of his mother in Ohio, a man named Edward Huber died by suicide or by accident and left behind his wife called Dawn Huber, along with their three daughters, Jessica, Janelle, and Jolene.

Robert met Dawn in Ohio when he was there to pick up his children from some relative's house, and at the same time, Dawn was visiting his niece's home to meet her best friend. 

At the instant, they hit it off and got married by November of 1985. After their marriage, they moved to Florida and Lakeville, Indiana, in 1986.

Family photo of Pelly family.
Family photo of Pelly family.
Source: CBS News

As Robert was a religious person after shifting to Lakeville, he switched his job to Minister by taking over a congregation of about a hundred members of the olive branch united brethren Church.

Later, Robert moved to Florida and switched his job because the bank employees he worked with were laundering money for a Colombian cartel.

"The Prom Night Murders"

It was Sunday, April 30, 1989, when the Pelly family was found murdered in their Lakeville home, but the police believed that the family was dead the day before between 4:50 pm and 5:10 pm. 

Pelly family used to live in the Church Parsons, and when Robert did not show up until 9:30 am one of the members named  David Hathaway of the church found it unusual for a Pastor to not show up on time and knocked on their home, but no one answered from inside the house.

After half an hour, Hathaway was able to get a key from another church member, and upon entering the house, he saw Robert's glasses lying on the hallway and then saw Robert's body lying back in a pool of blood.

After the first responders arrived, they acknowledged that Robert was dead. He was shot twice, once in the chest, neck, and chin. And other victims, Dawn, Janelle, and Jollene, were also shot dead in the basement. 

Other than brutal homicide in the house, every other thing was intact. There was no sign of forced entry, robbery, or burglary.

When half of Pelly's family members were killed, no one was left in the house. 17-year-old Jeff Pelly was in the Amusement park near Chicago, 13 old Jackie was visiting friends, 9-year-old Jessica was having a sleepover at her friend's house.

Pelly Was Just A Suspect

Pelly was suspected of the murder of his family because he did not always get along with his father. Some days later, his father punched him because of his burglary from a home where he had stolen around 100 dollars and numerous CDs.

Police agreed to let go of Jeff if he apologized and returned the properties he had stolen. 

Jeff Pelly at court,
Jeff Pelly at court,
Source: WCBI

Because of his inappropriate act, Robert restricted him from attending dinner before the Prom and the events after the Prom. And the only way that Jeff could attend his PromProm was if Robert drove him there. Robert hides Jeff's car's keys and even cancels his car's insurance.

Because Jeff fights with his father and shows fewer emotions towards his family's death, he becomes a suspect in his family case. But as there wasn't any physical evidence that pointed out Pelly as a murderer, he was set free.

Conviction After Three Decades         

After the case cooled down, Jeff's life got a little ordinary, then after some years, he got married and was working for IBM in Florida.

Pelly was 34 years old in 2002, a new prosecutor took over the case, and he believed that conviction was possible and arrested Pelly.

The stage theory of the crime that the prosecutor presented at the trial goes like this" angry at his father for not allowing him to drive to the Prom himself. 

Jeff retrieved his father's 20 gauge shotgun. He shoots his father twice and tries to make his way to the basement, where he shoots his stepmom and shoots his two steps sisters, and he removes all his clothes and puts them in the washing machine. Jeff retrieves the spent shell casings, now naked. He goes back upstairs and picks up other shell casings next to his father's body. 

Jeff cleans himself in the bathroom and then puts on different clothes. 

He turns out all the lights, closes the curtains, locks the doors and makes his way out of the mustang with his Prom Tuxedo, shotgun, and shell casing. 

He refuses fuses and the distributor cap that his father had removed from his vehicle and gets it's running again. He gets rid of the gun and the shell casing on the way to pick up his prom date.

In 2006 Jeff was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 160 years in prison. His conviction was upheld by the Indiana supreme court in 2009.

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