This is one of those cases that I heard it one time, I don’t remember where, but it pops into my head from time to time and I can’t shake it so Imma tell you about it.
3 important people in this story
Jennifer Blagg: Born Jennifer Jo Loman Jan 8, 1967 in OK
Described by friends as “very sweet woman” who faith was important to her
Her dream was to marry a good Christian man (quote from friend “Jennifer was always looking for a great family man, a great Christian man, and for him to be the provider and have kids,” Teresa Wiedenmann)
Not much else about her/her childhood
A renowned helicopter pilot in the Navy who served in the Persian Gulf War
Described as a “powerful, domineering figurehead” (not all bad when you consider he needed to be those things to be successful in the Navy)
If you haven’t figured it out already these two fell in love. Jennifer had gone to San Diego to study business at National University. As college students often do, she went to a party. She met Michael who was 25 at the time, currently stationed in SD with the Navy. He placed the same emphasis on faith as she did and the next thing ya know they got married. They’re described as a fairy tale couple. Michael’s mom loved Jennifer and her mom loved Michael from the get go.
One friend, Edie Melson, said “I think Jennifer loved the fact that Michael was strong, that he was a take-charge kind of a guy. He looked after her, he was protective of her.” This might sound a bit sketchy with the context of us talking about this on a true crime podcast, but try not to let that bias you for a sec and imagine that you’re Jennifer.
Ok, so it’s 1991, they get married and not long after Michael decides to retire from the Navy and become an engineer. Good career for supporting a family. They relocated to Simpsonville, South Carolina and things are going great. Now let’s fast forward to 1995 – March 21, 1995, to be exact. This is where we meet important person #3 in this story. Jennifer and Michael had a baby girl that they named Abby. Jennifer’s life was right on track to become what she had always wanted it to. She was loving Simpsonville – they had found a community through church that they loved and made many friends through, Jennifer taught a women’s bible study, and Michael got a co-teaching position at a bible school.
Jennifer’s friend, Edie Melson, did seem to have some concern though as she explained that there was one day when she and another friend were at Jennifer’s when she noticed it was past 4 which meant Michael would be home soon. Her reaction was a little strange. Edie said, “You could just see the absolute panic on her face. All she could think about was getting us out of the house and getting things set so Michael could have a good environment [when he came home].”
These are all things that when put all together sound pretty bad, but if you were to witness these real time you may not put them all together at first and so while there were definitely some concerns, as far as I know, no one really did or said anything about it.
One day, Jennifer had something to tell Edie. She broke the news that Michael had found a new job in Grand Junction, CO and they were moving. She was visibly upset and crying when she told her and admitted that she didn’t want to move. She felt like she needed to be the dutiful wife though and was trying to make the best of the situation.
By November of 2001, Abby was 6 and Jennifer would volunteer in her 1st grade class multiple times a week. Michael would also call to “check-in” on her multiple times throughout the day. When she wasn’t volunteering at the school or talking to Michael, she would do Jazzercise and mall-walk. She talked to her mom on the phone almost every day and had already started Christmas shopping. The whole fam would go to church together every Sunday and while she didn’t love Grand Junction like she did Simpsonville, she was making the best of it.
On November 13, 2001, Michael left for work at about 6 am as usual. He called Jennifer as he always did, but this is when the day went from same old, same old to a little unusual. She wasn’t answering him and he was starting to worry. At one point he left a voicemail where he said, “Man, where are you guys? Hope everything’s going OK, I love you guys.” When time continued to pass with no response, he decided to head home early to see what was going on.
He got home and ended up calling 911, because the scene he walked in on was very concerning. He told the operator that his wife and daughter were gone and that there was blood all over the main bedroom.
When authorities arrived, Michael told them that when he arrived the backdoor was open which was out of the ordinary. They found Jennifer’s purse and its contents upturned on the dresser, her jewelry box was empty, but there were still other valuables. As he had said on the phone, they discovered a ton of blood in the bedroom. There was something weird about it though. They said there was blood on the bed, but no blood on the walls or in the hallway, and no drag marks.
If that wasn’t odd enough, when investigators used Luminol on the family van, they discovered blood in there as well. Detective Wayne Weyler, a sergeant with Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said, “My initial thought was we had a kidnapping … but what didn’t match the fact was we had this large amount of blood in the bedroom and that was unusual for a kidnapping.” Of course, the first thing they did was interview Michael. And of course, he said he had no idea what happened. One statement he made during the interview was, “”I haven’t got a clue who would have any malice in their heart at all for anyone in our family.”
A massive search was started for them, but there was no sign of them and no leads on where to really be looking. Investigators did find something that intrigued them though, a journal entry Jennifer wrote right before she went missing. It said that she and Michael had gotten into a fight. Now, it didn’t go into any detail about the fight, but at this point we need clarification from Michael because things aren’t looking so great.
He initially claims that he doesn’t remember a fight, but investigators keep following this angle and what unfolds, well, it’s not what I was expecting that’s for sure. Any guesses? Remember, this is a very religious family, kay?
First, they found a note from Michael to Jennifer. The note included an apology for “letting the devil get a foothold” in their lives. Weird, but still vague just like her journal entry about the fight. The next thing investigators did was obtain a search warrant for the family computer. Have you figured it out yet? On the computer they discovered thousands, yes thousands, of images of hardcore pornography.
Again, not a great look but his explanation for why it was there is when the train just jumps off the tracks (is this the expression? I’ll probs just go with it and you can laugh at me and tell me if I fucked it up lol). Michael insisted it was there because he and Jennifer, being ya’know, very sheltered due to their religious upbringing, and Jennifer downloaded it for eDucAtiOnal pUrpOseS only because she wanted to SerVe HeR hUsbAnD. Basically, he said that he had become addicted to pornography and when he told Jennifer about it they argued, but then what she said was, “I don’t want you doing this, but if you are going to be doing this, then we should be together with this.” So she was downloading these things in order to better understand what she could do to ‘satisfy’ him.
Obviously I have lots of feelings about this, but none of this in any way says that he had something to do with Jennifer and Abby’s disappearance. It’s just hella weird and I don’t believe it for a second. I’m not the only one with these feelings as investigators were like mm, dude you are not looking good.
Adding to that, Edie around this time contacted authorities and told them that Jennifer had reached out to her right before she had gone missing, asking if she and Abby could come visit her. She specifically stated Michael would not be joining, which Edie thought was strange for a family that always traveled together (and with how controlling she had witnessed Michael to be, I don’t think she believed he would let her take a vacation without him.
Michael just keeps looking worse and worse, but everything against him is circumstantial and at this point there’s not any proof that Jennifer and/or Abby is dead. The investigators decide to come down hard on Michael with the questioning and are trying everything they can to get him to crack. Because as much as it sucks to say, I don’t think anyone believed there was any possibility they were alive at this point and the police just needed proof. One day, they showed up at the Blagg home and when they got no response but heard water running, they decided to kick down the door. They found Michael in the bathtub with his wrists cut, a photo of Jennifer and Abby with him, a Bible, and a note denying killing them. That decision to kick down the door is probably what saved his life as he was rushed to the hospital and fully recovered from his wounds.
None of this was stopping the police from trying to get to the bottom of what happened though. Unfortunately, we still have the problem of proof. A huge search with almost 200 volunteers went on for 11 days. They searched 45 miles around the Blagg home, but turned up nothing. And in case you were wondering, Michael did not participate. Of course he says this is because he was advised not to since he was a potential suspect. In an interview he did, he is straight up asked, “They told you specifically, ‘you cannot go on this search?’” and he says yes and then adds that he absolutely wanted to go on that search.
Everything seems to be hitting a wall, but then, a coworker of Michael’s called in and told the police about something he had noticed that seemed strange the same day Jennifer and Abby went missing. If you remember, Michael was an engineer. So it stuck out to this coworker that Michael was taking out the trash at work. That’s not something an engineer would typically do, and that’s not to say never take out the trash if it isn’t your job, but let’s be honest, based on what we know about him, Michael was not the kind of person to do a job that would be considered ‘beneath him.’
Obviously, this is odd, but what can you really do with that? It had been months since the disappearance and you can’t exactly just go check the dumpster months later. The first time I heard this story, I thought this was going to be the end and that there wasn’t really anything police could do at this point, but boy was I wrong. And I’m glad I was wrong. I feel like a lot of times we tell these stories and have disappointment in how the cases were handled, but when I tell you the police came through.
Investigator Steve King explained that they used global positioning technology and landfill logs to set up a grid system – much like an archeological site. They used this to zero in on quadrants where investigators believed they’d find trash from Blagg’s company that had been dumped the previous November. This seems like the longest shot in the world, but somehow, some way, on the 16th day of opening garbage bag after garbage bag in 104 degree weather at a landfill, Jennifer’s body was found.
According to the autopsy, she had been shot in the head at close range. Michael was arrested for first degree murder two days after Jennifer’s body was found and remember when I said he wasn’t involved in the searches? He wasn’t even in the same state at the time. He was in Georgia with his mom.
In March 2004, he went on trial where prosecutors argued he killed Jennifer because of his need for control. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. This verdict ended up getting overturned after a little more than a decade due to some issues with the way one of the jurors had answered a question on the jury questionnaire. There’s a whole complicated story behind this juror and what happened with that, and I could spend another 20 minutes getting into it, but I won’t and if you’re interested in that definitely google Marilyn Charlesworth. Fortunately, when Michael was tried again in 2018, he was once again found guilty of first degree murder, two counts of theft, and abuse of a corpse.
So we know what happened to Jennifer and Michael will be in jail for the rest of his life for that, but what about Abby? She was actually never found. She is technically missing, but presumed dead. Since her body wasn’t found with Jennifer’s it is technically possible that he could have done something else with her, but he has stood his ground that he is innocent and refuses to tell anyone where Abby is. If she is alive, she would be 27. An age-progressed picture of what she would look like at age 17 was made and I’ll put that on the Instagram.
Accessed August, 2022. She Thought She’d Found The Perfect, God-Fearing Husband — Then She Vanished https://www.oxygen.com/killer-relationship-with-faith-jenkins/crime-news/why-did-michael-blagg-murder-his-wife-jennifer-in
Accessed August, 2022. Colorado man convicted of wife’s murder gets a second shot at freedom
Accessed August, 2022. ‘Killer Relationship With Faith Jenkins’ Dives Into the Murder of Jennifer Blagg 20 Years Later (EXCLUSIVE CLIP) https://www.distractify.com/p/michael-blagg-now
Accessed August, 2022. In the Jennifer Blagg Murder Case Where is Michael Blagg Now? https://www.tvacute.com/jennifer-blagg-murder-case/
Accessed August, 2022. Jury sees graphic photos of Jennifer Blagg’s body after she was found in landfill https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/michael-blagg-trial/jury-sees-graphic-photos-of-jennifer-blaggs-body-after-she-was-found-in-landfill/73-531116109
Accessed August, 2022. Is Jennifer and Michael Blagg’s Daughter Dead or Alive? https://thecinemaholic.com/is-jennifer-and-michael-blaggs-daughter-dead-or-alive/
Accessed August, 2022. Find a Grave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14167060/jennifer-jo-blagg
Accessed August, 2022. Gender differentiation in methods of suicide attempts https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539603/#!po=21.4286