In one of the most infamous 911 calls, Debra Jeter calmly told The dispatcher: “I just killed my children. I just killed my children.” Jeter was totally composed, temporarily losing her cool when the dispatcher asked for her name. Debra said that one of her children was alive and the other was ‘asking to be saved.’ Jeter continued:
“I’m in the house walking around and um, one of them is still alive for real. She is asking to be saved and I couldn’t handle that.” Debra was a trained nurse, and rather than tend to her daughter, she hounded the dispatcher for an ambulance. “Hold on kid, they’re coming,” Debra told her older daughter Kiersten.
Debra had tried to commit suicide before the children a couple of weeks before Kelsey’s murder
In May 2009, Lester Lee Jeter filed for separation from Debra Janelle Jeter, his wife and mother of their two daughters, Kelsey and Kiersten.
Steve Raulston, a lumberjack who lived down the street from the Jeters, revealed that the unkempt Jeter residence was often noisy, forcing neighbors to call the police. “It was a noisy house, and the neighbors also had called the police,” Steve said.
It’s unclear why Lester filed for separation. Regardless, Debra wasn’t happy, prompting her to attempt suicide in front of the children. She received psychiatric treatment at the DePaul Center in Waco, Texas.
Lester told the court that due to Debra’s suicide attempt, he worried about placing the girls in her care. The court granted Lee a temporary restraining order against Debra. “She may be released within a few days, and I am concerned about her possible actions regarding the children,” Lester said.
Court documents state that Lester requested custody ‘to protect the safety and well-being of the children and any other person who has been a victim of family violence committed by (Jeter).’
After Debra left the DePaul center, the court held another hearing in which it lifted the restraining order against Debra, allowing her to see her children.
Lee agreed with the court, stating that Jeter harbored no resentment towards the children and had never harmed them.
Jeter promised a surprise for the kids when she picked them up in early June 2009
Kelsey and Kiersten hadn’t seen their mother in two weeks and were excited about spending time with her. “I get to see my mom tomorrow! Yay!” Kiersten wrote on Myspace.
Debra picked the 12-year-old Kelsey and 13-year-old Kiersten at 6 p.m. and told them she had a surprise in store. The girls waved their father goodbye and excitedly hopped into their mother’s vehicle. Jeter reportedly promised the kids a night involving book-reading and karaoke.
Sadly, the surprise promised by Jeter involved murder. She drove them to an abandoned house in rural Hill County, where she savagely attacked Kelsey and Kiersten with a knife.
Debra attacked Kiersten first. Before the deranged Jeter could finish her off, the teenager told Kelsey to run. Jeter stabbed Kiersten in the back before pursuing Kelsey. She caught up to Kelsey and slashed at her neck until she died.
Jeter then returned to the injured Kelsey and slashed her neck. She committed the murder and attempted murder four hours after picking up the children.
Miraculously, Kiersten survived the attack but was living on borrowed time. Despite nursing a slashed throat, Kiersten told her mom to call for help. “She wants you to hurry,” Debra told the dispatcher. “She wants you to hurry.”
Jeter told the dispatcher that she didn’t want to get shot as she didn’t have a gun. When deputies arrived, the 6-foot Debra had her hands up, with the murder weapon placed on the roof of a nearby car.
Authorities arrested her and placed her on suicide watch at Hill County Law Enforcement Center. Hill County Sheriff Jeffrey T. Lyon called the scene ‘horrific.’
Kelsey lay dead in the bathroom while Kiersten held on to life in the bedroom. “She [Kiersten] was cut from one side of her neck all the way to the other,” Lee Jeter told CNN. “And her airway was cut and one of her main arteries were cut.”
Kiersten had lost a lot of blood but was conscious when help arrived. A medical helicopter airlifted her to Parkland Hospital, where she underwent life-saving surgery.
Debra took a plea deal that gave her life without parole
The community struggled to understand Debra’s savagery toward her children. She’d shown no signs of such levels of violence.
Prosecutors charged Debra with murder and attempted capital murder. The court set her bond at $1.5 million. Kiersten responded positively to the surgery; four days later, she was out of the intensive care unit.
“The biggest question is, ‘Why?’” Sheriff Lyon said. However, Debra declined to explain her motive to authorities.
In May 2010, Debra pled guilty to capital murder and attempted capital murder. She accepted a plea deal that gave her life without parole – the move likely saved her from the death penalty and spared Kiersten from testifying about the ordeal.
Per KWTX, Jeter told Lee and Kiersten that she was sorry. Debra told Lee she still hated him but apologized for the murder and deadly assault, Lee said.
Kiersten and Debra reportedly shared some light-hearted moments before authorities transferred her to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison unit in Gatesville.
Debra reportedly told Lester that she attacked the kids because she was upset about the couple’s divorce and custody battle and didn’t want the kids to feel her pain.
“She figured if she felt that way, then we all must feel that way and she wanted to take away all of our pain,” Lee said.
Lester said that Kiersten inspired him to keep fighting. “Kelsey wouldn’t want us to give up,” Kiersten told Lester.