Jeff Pelley Convicted of Four 1989 Murders

On April 30, 1989, Rev. Robert Pelley didn’t show up for church. Eventually, two men went over to the parsonage, where a grisly scene awaited them. Robert Pelley (38), wife Dawn (32), and two of Dawn’s daughters from a previous marriage, Janel (8) and Jolene (6), were found dead. They have been killed with a shotgun. Jeff’s sister Jacqueline and stepsister Jessica were not home at the time.

Jeff Pelley (center) with sister Jacqueline and private investigator Scott Campbell

Seventeen years later, Jeff Pelley was convicted of the murders. The case was reopened four years ago, and after a six-day trial which included nearly 40 witnesses, jurors returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for 34 hours. Jeff, the son of Robert Pelley, is now 34 and has been living in Florida with his wife.

The evidence was mostly circumstantial. No murder weapon has been found, and no fingerprints linked Pelley to the crime itself. Rather, the prosecution relied on a carefully constructed timelime which put Jeff Pelley at the parsonage during a particular 20 minute period. After murdering his parents and stepsisters, the prosecution contended, Pelley went to high school prom with his girlfriend. The motive, argued the prosecution, concerned arguments with his father over weekend restrictions which would allow Jeff to go to the prom, but to no other activities. Police located him at the Great America theme part with friends the day after the murders.

After spending a few minutes with his wife and sister, Jacqueline, Pelley was led away in handcuffs. Sentencing is set for September 15.

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