Man Convicted Of 1993 Cold Case Murder Of Woman Stabbed 65 Times In Her Minnesota Apartment
The victim, Jeanie Childs, “was a wonderful person” who “had a big heart,” her mother said after the verdict.
Authorities used a discarded napkin and hot dog container to connect a Minnesota man with the cold-blooded murder of a woman found brutally stabbed in her home nearly 30 years ago.
On June 13, 1993, property supervisors at an apartment building in Minneapolis entered the unit belonging to 35-year-old Jeanne “Jeanie” Childs after a neighbor complained about a leak, according to a probable cause statement obtained by The Washington Post.
Once inside the residence, they found the shower running and Childs dead from what was later determined to be 65 stab wounds to her chest, neck, arms, and other parts of her body.
The attack on Childs was prolonged and occurred throughout the apartment, which she used “for meetings with customers,” the probable cause document states. A bloody footprint was found near her body, and genetic material from an unknown male was recovered from multiple pieces of evidence that included a towel, washcloth, comforter, and t-shirt.
Investigators at the time were unable to identify a suspect in the murder case, but they recently got a break after genetic genealogy and commercial websites allegedly narrowed down the list of those who could have contributed the unknown DNA to just two people, officials said.
In 2019, one of those suspects, Jerry Arnold Westrom, attended a hockey game and ate a hot dog. “Investigators observed the defendant wiping his mouth with a napkin that [he] then placed within a cardboard food container before disposing of both in a trash can,” the affidavit states, noting a scientific analysis on the napkin showed it “contained a mixture of DNA” that “was consistent with DNA samples recovered from the crime scene.”
During questioning, Westrom denied he was ever at Childs’ apartment and claimed he didn’t know why his DNA would be found there. Police arrested and charged him with first-degree murder in June 2020.
Westrom’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, admitted to WCCO-TV that “somebody sick, pathological” was responsible for the brutal slaying, but he insisted that his client “isn’t the guy.”
Childs was reportedly a sex worker and Meshbesher argued during Westrom’s recent trial that hairs from Childs’ alleged pimp, who died five years ago, were found in her hands at the crime scene, indicating he may have been her killer. “Whatever happened was brutal, it’s a question of who did it,” the attorney told the station.
According to the complaint, Westrom lived in the Twin Cities area around the time of Childs’ killing, and in 2016 he was convicted of soliciting a prostitute.
On Aug. 25, 2022, jurors convicted Westrom of murder. In accordance with Minnesota state law, the defendant faces a mandatory term of life behind bars when a judge sentences him later this month.
Westrom’s lawyer said he planned to appeal the verdict.
“I know that the law is finally going to take care of him for what he did, and I hope he can sleep at night,” the victim’s mother, Betty Eakman, told WCCO-TV after the jury’s decision was read. “Jeanie was a wonderful person even though she had problems. She had a big heart.”