|For Immediate Release
Case # 07ZF0009
October 7, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
STEPSON CONVICTED OF MURDER-FOR-PROFIT CONSPIRACY TO HAVE CANCER-STRICKEN STEPFATHER KILLED
SANTA ANA – A stepson was convicted today for conspiring to have his mother’s third husband murdered so she could save money by not paying for his cancer treatments and to financially profit from his insurance and 401k death benefits. Thomas Dayton Aehlert, 41, Gold Canyon, AZ, pleaded guilty to one felony count of second degree murder and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison at his sentencing hearing March 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Sandra Jessee, 60, formerly of Placentia, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count of conspiracy. If convicted, she faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jessee’s jury trial will begin Oct. 21, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35.
In the spring of 1998, Sandra Jessee’s third husband of 15 years, 56-year-old Jack Jessee, was diagnosed with cancer. Sandra Jessee wanted to move to Arizona, where her co-defendant adult son from a previous marriage, Aehlert, had recently moved. The victim did not want to leave California, where his adult children lived.
Between June 1, 1998, and July 1, 1999, Sandra Jessee and Aehlert are accused of conspiring to hire a hit man to murder Jack Jessee for financial gain. Sandra Jessee is accused of wanting to have the victim murdered because she didn’t think that all of his cancer treatments would be covered by insurance and she did not want to deplete their retirement savings.
On several occasions in June 1998, Aehlert called friend Brett Schrauben, 39, to solicit and arrange the murder of Jack Jessee in exchange for $50,000. On June 24, 1998, Sandra Jessee is accused of meeting Schrauben in a store parking lot in Placentia. She is accused of paying him $5,000 to kill her husband while she was away from her home and instructing him to make the murder look like a residential burglary.
On Aug. 13, 1998, Aehlert called Schrauben to discuss the murder, which was to take place that day. That morning, Schrauben and a friend, Thomas Garrick, drove to the Jessee’s home, but left after Schrauben changed his mind about committing the murder. When called by Schrauben and told that the murder had not been committed, Aehlert told Schrauben that Jack Jessee had to be murdered that night or else Sandra Jessee would do it herself.