February 19, 2019
Ask neighbors and acquaintances of Jerry Arnold Westrom what kind of man he is and they would describe him as a friendly and generous Hockey dad who loves his family and is very active in his local community. They would tell you he is a supporter of the 4-H program, a youth program that provides learning opportunities in areas like science and technology as well as the chance for kids to participate in confidence building community projects and programs to promote healthy lifestyles. He owns his own organic farm, they would say, and supports the 4-H program by offering his services as a professional commodity broker as well as lending his time to various other local community service projects.
But the 52 year old ex- Isanti businessman (who used to own convenience stores and gas stations) had a dark history that not many were aware of, including several arrests for crimes ranging from traffic violations to attempts to solicit sex. Although it would be shocking enough to those around him if his criminal history came to light, Westrom has been accused of another crime that he has hidden deep in his past, a crime so cruel and callous that he had managed to evade responsibility for it for over two and a half decades- the 1993 murder of Jeanne Ann Childs.
In 1993 Jeanne Childs was working as a prostitute in the Hennepin area of Minneapolis. It is believed that on June 19th Westrom approached Childs and she took him to her boyfriend’s apartment on Pillsbury Avenue South, block 3100. She took all of her clients to the residence as she thought it would be safer than a motel or a customer’s vehicle, but not even the safety of her own four walls could protect her from the terrible tragedy that awaited.
Westrom and Childs allegedly went back to the apartment where they had sex. Jerry then stabbed and slashed at her with a sharp object over and over again before feeling and leaving his victim naked on the floor.
Sometime later another tenant living in the apartment building contacted the property manager to report water dripping through the ceiling from Childs’ room above. When knocks and calls went unanswered they opened the room up to discover Jeanne Ann dead on the floor wearing nothing but socks. She was covered in blood, in fact, there was blood absolutely everywhere. The bed was saturated in it, it pooled out around her body and continued to the bathroom where a towel and washcloth had been used and discarded. The shower had been left running.
Police bagged up evidence. They removed the quilt from the bed, a red cotton T shirt from the lid of the toilet, a towel and wash cloth from the bathroom and carefully collected a sample of the blood they found staining the sink. The crime scene illustrated a frenzied stabbing followed by an equally frantic attempt by the perpetrator to remove any blood from his person.
The murder was a violent and relentless one. An Autopsy report would later reveal that she had been cut along her lower stomach, exposing the intestines. There were deep stab wounds to her chest and abdomen as well as multiple slashes to the skin of her entire body, both front and back. It was revealed that her killer had continued to slash away at her even after she was already dead.
Because he had no prior connection to his victim, Westrom managed to evade arrest for almost 26 years. But as time marched on, technology advanced and in 2018 the previously unknown DNA samples collected from the 1993 crime scene were finally entered into to a commercial genealogy database. The search turned up results and identified Jerry Westrom as potential suspect. Investigators did some digging and found out that Jerry Westrom had actually lived in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul Metro area around the time of the murder. He had moved there in the spring of 1991 and moved away at the end of 1993, just 6 months after the crime. A check of his criminal record showed that he had attempted to hire a prostitute online, from the backpage.com website, in 2016. Two prior attempts were also acknowledged.
Police began to survey the 52 year old in January, following him around in an attempt to retrieve a new DNA sample for testing. They followed him to a hockey game where ordered food and wiped his mouth with a table napkin before throwing it into the garbage along with the food container. Police were quick to retrieve the serviette and submitted it for testing. It was a match. They obtained another sample from Westrom following his arrest in February and compared it to the DNA found on the evidence recovered from the 1993 crime scene.
Despite the evidence and his presence in the area at the time of the crime, Jerry Westrom denied ever meeting Childs. He claimed that he didn’t recognise her from a photograph and said he had never stepped foot in her apartment and claimed that he never sex with her. When further questioned about why evidence of his seminal fluid was found at the crime scene and on the victim, comforter and towels, he responded that he had no idea.
Westrom's defence attorney, Mr. Steven Meshbesher, argues that the seminal fluid discovered at the crime scene is not evidence enough to convict his client of Childs murder. His argument focuses on the victim’s status as a sex worker, lack of a murder weapon and no prior violence related arrests on his client’s record.
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