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Home | Tag Archives: testify

Tag Archives: testify

Audio: Testify Sidebar – Child Crisis Center of El Paso

In light of their latest episode, Deserted, Charlie and Andra sought out advice from the Child Crisis Center of El Paso.

Executive Director Lorraine Gomez shared her insightful thoughts into the needs of the El Paso community when it comes to caring for children who are at risk for neglect or abuse.

The center has been in operation since 1980 and offers many services that El Pasoans may not be aware of. One of their most important services is drop in, no questions asked, childcare for parents who are in need of a break from their children.

If you would like to donate or help the Child Crisis Center, or if you are in need or their assistance, please visit their website or call them at (915) 562-7955.

You can also help the Child Crisis Center of El Paso by supporting their Discovery Thrift Shop located at 9122 Dyer Street in the Bradley Shopping Centre.

Testify Closing Arguments: Deserted with Genevive Curtis

This week, Andra and Charlie invited KFOX 14 Investigative Journalist Genevive Curtis about the 2013 death of Jackson Farrey.

Curtis recalls the mood and approach to coverage surrounding the disappearance of the Farrey family and the fallout from the subsequent discovery of Jackson’s body in an isolated New Mexico desert.

For more information on how to subscribe to Testify visit our website www.testifypodcast.com.

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In partnership with the Herald-Post, users can listen to Testify Podcasts via their webpage, or via Patreon or via the sites below.

  

 

Testify Podcast – Episode 02: Deserted

The new episode of Testify, a podcast hosted by Charlie Moreno and Andra Litton in partnership with the El Paso Herald Post, is now live.

***

It was a brisk fall Friday night in November 2013, most newsrooms across El Paso are consumed with gathering football scores for the final week of the season. A strange, yet familiar buzz comes across the police radio scanner.

Turn it up.

It beeps again. “Did you hear that?” someone would ask their colleague. Silence. Then again. Despite having listened to the scanner day in and day out for decades, some still struggled to put together the pieces. Missing. Family. Infant. Soldier.

Things began to become more clear when the El Paso Police sent the media a bulletin just after 7 p.m. local time.

The entire Farrey family, Jeffrey, Jenna, Blake and Jackson, were missing from their west El Paso Home.

Jeffrey, a Fort Bliss soldier, failed to report to duty two days earlier. His command went to check his home. The family’s souped-up white Charger was parked out front, but their dark colored Dodge Charger was missing from the driveway.

No one answered the door.

Two days later, the couple’s landlord gave authorities access to the home. Clothes were strewn about, furniture was missing or absent. Items were in disarray. And perhaps the most disturbing, a note was left in the diary of the family matriarch, Jenna, indicating the couple intended to commit suicide.

A frantic search began throughout the country for the missing soldier and his family. As national attention focused on El Paso, local law enforcement began to work overtime to locate the family.

Two days later, Jeffrey, Jenna and their 15-month-old son Blake were located at the Eagle’s Nest Motel, a quaint 12-room in located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In many ways, relief ran like a tidal wave through the community until the glaring omission. The couple’s infant son Jackson, only 5-months-old at the time of the family’s disappearance, was not with them.

The tangle of lies was about to unravel for the family. As a community held its breath, hopeful the infant would turn up unharmed, national media descended like desert vultures. Nancy Grace sent a correspondent and all media outlets from the couple’s hometown in St. Charles, Illinois, to Michigan to El Paso were waiting and hoping.  

In a stunning turn of events, Jeffrey was extradited to El Paso where – the following day – the mummified skeletal remains of an infant were unearthed in the New Mexico desert near Orogrande, about 50 miles north of El Paso.

A search of local arrest and court records revealed that Jenna Farrey had run into some pretty serious issues with her oldest son Blake while Jeffrey was away on deployment. She was arrested and charged not once, but twice for abandonment and endangerment of a child. In one case, she was caught speeding going 95MPH on Loop 375 in East El Paso.

When she was stopped, she admitted to officers that she’d left her son Blake at home alone. In the second complaint, Jenna was found to have left Blake at home while she traveled to Elephant Butte in Central New Mexico for a day trip.

While being questioned, she also admitted to El Paso Police Officers that she would sometimes leave Blake unattended while going to the movies or the mall.

Despite the issues with caring for her young son, Jenna son became pregnant again while Jeffrey was on leave. According to Jeffrey’s defense attorney, Joe Spencer, Jeffrey wasn’t made aware of any of the CPS issues until after the birth of their second son, Jackson, in the summer of 2013.

After Jackson’s remains were unearthed in the New Mexico desert, an autopsy was performed by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. The results, which were returned more than a month later, were inconclusive. There were no obvious signs of foul play, but the small size of the infant’s body compared with another baby at his age were noted.

Jeffrey, despondent over his son’s death, admitted to his attorney Joe Spencer that the boy had died just days before Halloween, on October 27.

According to Spencer, Jeffrey made note to Jenna of the boy’s small size, but Jenna told him they couldn’t take the boy to the pediatrician for fears that the infant would be taken from them by CPS.

Instead, they did nothing. The morning of October 27, Jackson was found dead in his own crib, apparently having choked to death on his own fluids. The couple buried him in the desert the same day.

For three weeks, the couple proceeded as if nothing had happened. Jeffrey later told Spencer that it was Jenna’s idea to run. Once in Michigan, a panicked Jeffrey called his father in Illinois to explain what had happened.

It was Jeffrey’s father who ultimately called authorities to alert them to the couple’s location.

The couple were each charged separately for Injury to a Child by Omission, a first degree felony. Each took a plea agreement and were sentenced to time in the Texas Department of Corrections. Jeffrey was sentenced to 20 years and will be eligible for parole as early as 2022.

Jenna was sentenced to 35 years in prison. She is set to be released in 2049.

The couple’s older son, Blake, is living with Jeffrey’s father in St. Charles, Illinois.

***

In partnership with the Herald-Post, users can listen to Testify Podcasts via our webpage,  download them via the Testify webpage, or via Patreon or via the sites below.

  

 

Testify Podcast – Closing Argument

The new episode of Testify, a podcast hosted by Charlie Moreno and Andra Litton in partnership with the El Paso Herald Post, is now live.

Closing Argument deals with the closing arguments from Bryan Vincent Russell’s trial.

New episodes will be released every other week, with a bonus episode during the ‘in between’ weeks that will feature organizations in our community that assist victims and their families.

***

In partnership with the Herald-Post, users can listen to Testify Podcasts via our webpage,  download them via the Testify webpage, or via Patreon or via the sites below.

  

Testify Podcast – Episode 01: Stonewall

It was September 19, 1988. The man most consider the greatest diver of all-time, Greg Lougainis, hit his head during a preliminary round in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Blood streamed from his head and into the Olympic sized swimming pool as the crowd watched, horrified by the uncharacteristic gaffe by the world champion high diver.

Lougainis, by this own admission was paralyzed with fear. Not because he worried about the chances of him winning Olympic gold – but because he knew the blood that was streaming from the wound in his head carried the HIV virus. Lougainis had learned of his diagnosis just six months prior to the Olympics and had been ordered by his doctor to take AZT every four hours around the clock.

The shroud of secrecy behind his HIV status lasted nearly a decade until Lougainis released his memoir in 1995.

Less than ten days after Lougainis’ diving accident at the Olympic games, the dismembered body of 57-year-old James ‘Jim’ Byers lay in the El Paso County morgue. The cause of death was clear: homicide. But written in all-caps on the bottom of the laboratory request form were the words

“CAUTION: Victim was homosexual, tread as AIDS victim. If unable to conduct any of the above listed requests, please forward to proper lab.”

Byers, a well-respected and successful CPA was known to take weekly dinners with Walter Henderson, the VP at El Paso Natural Gas. But those who knew Jim in his professional life knew little about his personal life. They didn’t know about the “stonewall” that existed between him and his aging neighbor, the bars he spent much of his time in, the late-night parties, the fact that many described him as an alcoholic and they definitely didn’t know about the young men that frequented his apartment. Jim lived in two worlds, one where he lived freely as himself and the other where he was “Jim Byers, CPA, rancher, and respected businessman.”

Jim’s business partners at Mayhall, Byers and Edge were the first to notice something was wrong. James Edge said he spoke with Jim on Saturday, September 24 at their office. At the time, Jim was hard at work on a project that he said was due by Monday. By 2 p.m. on Monday the 26th, Byers had not arrived to work. Despite his secret life of partying and drinking into the early morning hours, Jim was never late. He never missed a day of work. Calls to Jim’s landline went unanswered.

The man who was probably closest to Jim was his former roommate and neighbor, Hardy Eckert. Hardy, a balding man in his late 40s, had keys to Jim’s apartment. They’d often check on each other’s places while they were out of town. James Edge knew the men were friends and that Hardy would be able to get into Jim’s apartment. Hardy and apartment security checked. Nothing was out of the ordinary inside the apartment, except one closed blind that would have typically been open.

Tuesday was more of the same. No answer from Jim, despite the fact that both of his vehicles, a Ford Ranger and a 1985 Mercury Gran Marquis were parked outside of apartment #195 at the gated Camelot Condominiums on North Stanton.

It wasn’t until Wednesday morning when Hardy entered Jim’s apartment that he finally stepped out on the back porch and noticed the Jacuzzi was still running and the plastic cover was still on it. The Jacuzzi had been on since Sunday morning, according to Jim’s neighbor J.A.

She would know.

Ms. A and Jim Byers were in the middle of a heated feud. A month before his disappearance, J.A. pressed charges against Byers after he drunkenly showed up nude at her front door to confront her after she’d called security on him for his loud parties. J.A. heard everything. She heard Jim’s parties. She heard his loud music, she heard when his air conditioner was on or off, she heard the siren his Jacuzzi made when it the motor was turned on. She definitely heard the conversation between an intoxicated Byers and an unknown man around midnight Sunday morning.

The tension between the two had become so intense that Jim hired a construction company to build a literal Stonewall between them. One he hoped would protect his privacy and end the fighting with “the bitch” who lived next door. At the time of his disappearance, the wall construction was underway at Jim’s apartment. Each morning the men toiled away at building the dividing line between the two apartments while the mystery of where James ‘Jim’ Byers continued.

The most curious aspect about Wednesday morning’s search for Jim through the Camelot Apartments was the fact that his Gran Marquis was missing from the spot it had been parked at since Saturday night.

Around 2 p.m. another resident of Camelot contacted the office manager, complaining that someone was parked in his spot and asked her to have the car towed. The apartment tag number matched Jim’s for the Gran Marquis.

Just minutes later, the apartment manager, security guard and Hardy Eckert – Jim’s longtime friend – opened the trunk, reached in, and felt an ear. It was Jim.

El Paso Police Detectives learned that Jim’s legs, arms, penis and scrotum had been cut off. His torso wrapped in plastic and a blanket, smaller body parts shoved in a green and white Coleman cooler.

An investigation was launched into the underbelly of the El Paso gay bar community. The Briar Patch, The Apartment Bar – which Hardy Eckert owned, Cliff’s Bar, Diamond Lil’s, The San Antonio Mining Company. Police stopped and questioned patrons and bartenders at each one. Did they know what happened to Jim Byers?

Police reports noted collection of several porno tapes. Homosexual porno tapes. Investigators made notations of the men who came and went from his apartment as told to them by the Camelot security guards. Jim’s sexual and relationship history was noted in each report, each interview.

The character assassination of Jim Byers had begun before his killer had even been caught. In the end, was it something Jim did or who Jim was that got him killed?

Find out who killed Jim Byers in our first episode of Testify, a podcast hosted by Charlie Moreno and Andra Litton in partnership with the El Paso Herald Post.

**

New episodes will be released every other week, with a bonus episode during the ‘in between’ weeks that will feature organizations in our community that assist victims and their families.

***

In partnership with the Herald-Post, users can listen to Testify Podcasts via our webpage,  download them via the Testify webpage, or via Patreon or via the sites below.

  

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