Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Heather Jensen Arrested in 2012 Overheating Death of Sons in SUV

Heather Jensen

Heather Jensen

Recent widow and former mother Heather Jensen of Colorado has been arrested for the negligent homicide of her two sons, Tyler and William, who died as a result of hyperthermia in the family SUV at a the Powderhorn ski report in November 2012. At first Jensen reportedly told police that she had taken the boys to the resort to play, and later placed them in the car with the engine running and the heat one for about 10 minutes while she smoked a cigarette. She said that she heard one of them gurgle when she entered the vehicle and called 911. Later Jensen changed her story saying that having run into male acquaintance Peter Colton at the report, she entered his vehicle and left her children unattended for 90 minutes, not 10 minutes as she had originally stated.

According to the arrest affidavit (below), Jensen admitted to “having an affair” with Peter Colton, who she planned to hook up with at the ski resort. At the time she was also in touch with her live-in boyfriend, Peter Eugene Stein-Gillette, who police determined had started dating Jensen before her husband Eric died in a car accident in September 2012. According to the police report Stein-Gilette spoke with detectives on November 29 telling them that, “he was ready to break up with Heather because she kept lying. Heather kept changing the amount of time she was out of her vehicle that night. It has fluctuated from 5-10 minutes, to 10-15, then to 15-20 minutes, and now he was hearing it was almost 90 minutes that she was out of her vehicle. Peter also wanted me to know that Heather had disclosed to him that she had been smoking “weed” while on the Mesa with Colten. On 11/30/12 Peter Stein-Gillette again called and told me that Heather told him that day that the boys were never out of the vehicle, that they had slept the entire time.” Colton later confirmed to police that the boys had never left the car and were asleep the whole time, and that he and Jensen had had intercourse in his vehicle during that time.

William and Tyler Jensen

William and Tyler Jensen

Tests of Jensen’s impounded Toyota 4Runner indicated that no carbon monoxide had leaked into the passenger compartment. Further tests of the heating system both with windows closed and cracked open indicated that the heat could reach temperatures over 120 degrees with 30 minutes and could get as high as 145 degrees in 90 minutes.

In the report the medical examiner concluded that, “Leaving children unattended in motor vehicles has well known risks associated with various forms of fatal and non-fatal injury; in particular, hyperthermia deaths occurring as a result of sun exposure in automobiles in temperate environments is well known. Other risks include, but are not limited to: Carbon Monoxide inhalation, entrapment in power windows, hypothermia, positional asphyxia, and engagement of the drive train leading to collision. Despite the likely unrecognized risk of hyperthermia in this case, the deliberate and reckless act of leaving the decedent and his brother in an unattended running motor vehicle constitutes neglect and is the sole cause directly responsible for the death of this decedent and his sibling. Despite neglect being the direct precipitating factor in the death of the decedent and his sibling, deliberate intent to kill cannot be established with certainty; therefore, the manner of death is classified as accident. The manner of death may be reclassified as homicide if additional information becomes available.

Prosecutors concluded that charges against Jensen were warranted and issued an arrest warrant in her name for two counts of child abuse resulting in death, two counts of criminally negligent homicide and one count of false reporting to authorities. Jensen was arrested in North Fort Myers, Fla., where she told booking officers that her last name was “Holesapple.” She is in custody awaiting extradition to Colorado. Bond was set at $150,000.

Colorado Toddlers Left in SUV Die — of Heat Exposure in January

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