Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jarrod Davidson: Murderous family secret

A Doomed Relationship

Jarrod and Kelee met innocently enough, in chemistry class four years earlier. They started dating, and after a year Kelee became pregnant. The couple got married, but it was a rocky relationship: Jarrod spent about 70 hours a week studying and working at his job, teaching chemistry. Kelee said she felt abandoned.

Jarrod Davidson
Jarrod Davidson

But she wasn't home a lot either. Kelee worked as a waitress, and after daughter Malia was born she was often cared for by Kelee's parents. Eight months after the birth, the couple separated. Jarrod moved into his Goleta apartment and filed for divorce. A contentious battle over Malia ensued. The judge gave Kelee primary custody, and Jarrod fought for more time. Kelee lived 70 miles north, and Jarrod would often make that trek only to have Kelee refuse to let him see his daughter.

The Sheriff's Department was dragged into the dispute when Jarrod began making calls to report violations of the judge's order. In subsequent court hearings, the judge's displeasure was evident. "I severely question the way the mother is playing the game here," the judge said. "I question her credibility. I question her honesty. I question her respect for court orders."

The judge threatened to take away custody from Kelee if she continued to violate Jarrod's visitation rights. She didn't heed the warning, and a July 28 court date was set for another hearing at which Jarrod would likely have been awarded custody. The date set was 19 days after Jarrod's murder. In fact, the night he died, Jarrod had driven up to see his daughter for yet another appointed visit but once again hadn't been allowed to see her.

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