“Puppet master” wife orchestrated husband’s murder-for hire
▶ Watch Video: Sneak peek: The Plot to Kill Jamie Faith
Jamie Faith and his wife, Jennifer, set out from their Dallas home on an early morning dog walk on Oct. 9, 2020. It would be the last walk Jamie Faith ever took. Moments after they left home, Jamie was shot dead. It was a murder that stunned their friends and neighbors.
“To say it was a shocking murder would be an understatement … Broad daylight, seven shots, one person killed,” says Steve Pickett, who covered the case for CBS’ KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. “We see murders all day. This one looked different.”
“Three times to the head, three times to the chest and once to the groin. … And then [someone] turns to the wife, takes the time to pull out duct tape and wrap her wrists,” said Christy Jack, a prominent defense attorney “48 Hours” asked to review the case. She told correspondent Peter Van Sant, “As soon as I saw it, I thought, ‘That’s a hit.'”
But if you think this is a simple murder-for-hire story, you’d be wrong.
GUNNED DOWN WHILE WALKING THE DOG
Melinda Mendoza | Neighbor: I hear the woman screaming for her life, hysterical. It sounded like a movie … so I hurry up and call the police saying, “hurry and come, I think my neighbor just got shot.”
It was October 9, 2020, and residents of Oak Cliff were still absorbing the shocking murder of Jamie Faith. Dallas Police detectives began going house to house.
NEWS REPORT: Detectives need any and all information that might be related to the case …
Jamie’s own front door security camera captured the haunting photo as he left his house with Jennifer and their dog Maggie. It was taken seconds before Jamie was shot to death.
Other cameras captured images of the killer’s getaway truck leaving the scene.
Peter Van Sant: A black Nissan Titan pickup truck. And it had something unique on its back window. What was that?
Steve Pickett: Police initially told us about the T on the back window. Here in Dallas, if you see a “T” on the back window, it’s for … the baseball team, the Texas Rangers.
Steve Pickett noted that the cameras did not pick up the truck’s license plate.
Peter Van Sant: And so, the effort begins to find this truck, right?
Steve Pickett: That’s right. Absolutely … Who is driving a black Nissan Titan with that “T” emblem on the back window?
For those who knew Jamie Faith, the big question was not only who had committed the murder but why? Jamie, by all accounts, was a fun-loving guy.
Shamona Jackson: Jamie was the sweetest person … And I said, “Somethin’s not right …Something wasn’t right.”
Shamona Jackson and her wife Melisa Gonzales lived next door to Jamie and Jennifer for years but moved when the pandemic hit. They needed more space for their seven adopted children.
Shamona Jackson: The first time I met him … we all introduced ourselves … and they were like, “Do y’all have kids?” And I was like, “Yeah, we have a lotta kids.” (laughter)
Peter Van Sant: Is it true that the Faith house was a really fun place for your kids to go?
Shamona Jackson: Yes (laughs).
Jennifer Faith instantly bonded with Shamona, Melisa and their adopted children at least in part, because she was also adopted. The Faiths welcomed them like family, inviting them to swim anytime they liked in the Faith’s backyard pool.
Melisa Gonzales: Oh, they loved to go swimming there. Sometimes they’d spend the night over … She would just leave us the code and we’d come in through the back gate and swim.
Peter Van Sant: Give me a sense of what — Jennifer Faith was like.
Shamona Jackson: She was actually pretty fun … I’ve never seen her get mad … She was really fun.
Peter Van Sant: Would you describe them as a loving couple?
Melisa and Shamona: Yes.
On the morning of the murder, a cousin of Melisa’s called her with the dreadful news. They rushed to the Faith home. Jamie’s lifeless body was still on the street.
Shamona Jackson: Right away, I noticed the gunshot to the head. But he was layin’ there, just in the street; no covering, no nothin’.
Melisa Gonzales: It was heartbreaking … ‘Cause you hear somebody tell you that someone’s passed, but to see him there, lifeless, after we had just seen them and — it was hard to believe.
Two states away in Arizona, Theresa and Ross Jensen, who had known Jamie for years, were floored by the news.
Ross Jensen: And the two of us just stared at each other for a little while like, “What?!?”
Theresa Jensen: In shock.
Theresa Jensen and Jamie Faith hail from the village of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, and were classmates through high school and college. He later introduced Theresa to her husband Ross, a close college friend.
Ross Jensen: Sixteen years later, here we sit.
Theresa Jensen: Jamie literally changed our lives.
Ross Jensen: We never would’ve met.
Jamie may have been a successful matchmaker, but he insisted that serious relationships were not for him.
Theresa Jensen: He considered himself a confirmed bachelor … for as long as we knew him, he said, “I’m never getting married.”
Ross Jensen: “Never getting married.”
Theresa Jensen: “Never having kids. I don’t want a part of it.”
But that changed in 2005.
Theresa Jensen: And then he met Jennifer.
The attraction was instant.
Ross Jensen: In terms of the commitment and the relationship and —
Theresa Jensen: — that was there.
Ross Jensen: — that was there right off the bat. They were two peas in a pod.
And that notion about not wanting children? Jamie bonded with Jennifer’s then 8-year-old daughter Amber from her first marriage.
Ross Jensen: I remember thinking to myself, “That’s interesting. For a guy that didn’t want kids, how he stepped right in there.” And he would go to the dance recitals, and super supportive.
The two got married in Las Vegas in 2012 and when Amber turned 18, Jamie legally adopted her. He was working for American Airlines in Arizona and Jennifer worked in health care administration.
Theresa Jensen: I believe all of our friends and mutual friends were very accepting of her.”
Jamie, Jennifer and Amber continued living in Arizona until 2017, when Jamie got a promotion and they moved to Dallas.
Ross Jensen: He seemed very happy. Yep. So did she. They got along great and — I mean, that’s all you want for your friends, you know? Be happy.
But the good times ended in gunfire that October morning…it was the day after the couple celebrated the 15th anniversary of their first date. In later news reports, Jennifer said she was having a hard time coping with Jamie’s murder:
JENNIFER FAITH [News report, December 2, 2020: I’m not supposed to be widowed at 48, you know?
Jennifer told cops that the shooter was wearing a blue mask, and a blurry image was captured by that security camera near the back of the Faith house. But the best lead was that black Nissan truck with the distinctive white “T” on the back window.
SUPPORT FROM THE COMMUNITY
Jennifer Svelan: I have three dogs that I walk three, four times a day. … what seemed like was a completely random act, it could’ve been any of us.
Jennifer Svelan and Jenna Wilson live in the same Oak Cliff neighborhood where Jamie Faith was gunned down — a man they could relate to.
Jenna Wilson: I learned he was in IT at a major airline. … My husband is in IT at a major airline. They were walking their dog a few blocks from us. I was just — “Oh my gosh,” like, ’cause this could’ve been us.
Though many neighbors didn’t know the Faiths personally, they immediately stepped up to support Jennifer and her daughter, Amber.
Jennifer Svelan: We have a really amazing community in Oak Cliff.
The day after the murder, Jenna reached out to Jennifer Faith and began coordinating a meal train to provide vegan meals, as Jennifer requested.
Peter Van Sant: How many different families were contributing food, would you estimate?
Jenna Wilson: Oh, goodness. Gotta be over 50.
Jennifer Svelan: Oh, definitely.
JENNIFER FAITH [Fox 4 News report]: If you know what happened, I need — I need that for closure.
As Jennifer Faith appealed to the public for information, money was pouring into a GoFundMe account set up by Jennifer Svelan.
Jennifer Svelan: It came in fast…. It was shocking to see how much people were contributing.
Peter Van Sant: How much money was raised?
Jennifer Svelan: Over $60,000.
Jennifer Faith held two funerals for Jamie, one in Dallas and one in Phoenix. Each was meticulously planned.
Theresa Jensen: They had all of this displays out … little matchbooks for people to take — cards for people to take … coasters. More than anything I’ve ever seen at any other funeral.
While she was mourning, Jennifer kept pressing the public for more information about the murder of her husband.
JENNIFER FAITH [news report]: The truck is absolutely critical. Somebody has got to know whose truck this is … It’s a black Nissan Titan, extended cab. It had a Texas Rangers sticker in the back window.”
As they do with every homicide investigation, detectives looked into Jennifer’s background. They asked for her cell phone and found that in April 2020, six months before the October shooting, Jennifer had texted a friend to say she had gotten back in touch with an ex-boyfriend named Darrin.
Jim Holland: Law enforcement goes through the phone, and they look in her phone book, and they find the name Darrin Lopez.
Jim Holland is a retired Texas Ranger, and a CBS News consultant.
Jim Holland: They’re going through and they’re finding out every single thing they can about both these people, really discovering them.
Darrin Lopez and Jennifer had dated in high school and reconnected in early 2020. Lopez had a family of his own and was a Special Forces Army veteran who earned a Purple Heart and suffered a brain injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq that killed 19 soldiers in his unit.
Steve Pickett: He is a military veteran … going through a divorce himself — living in an isolated part of Tennessee — raising his daughters.
Authorities learned Lopez owned a 20-acre property in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee. And there was something else.
Jim Holland: Darrin Lopez owns a Nissan Titan pickup that just so happens to be … black in color.
A Nissan Titan — the same make and model as the gunman’s getaway truck in Jamie Faith’s murder. Texas authorities reached out to law enforcement in Tennessee.
Christy Jack: And they actually conducted aerial surveillance of Darrin’s house.
Christy Jack: And lo and behold, there’s this truck with the “T” on the back window.
Peter Van Sant: The white “T”.
Christy Jack: The white “T”.
Steve Pickett: All this time we thought Texas. Indeed, it was for the University of Tennessee.
But authorities didn’t arrest Lopez after finding his truck. They continued to investigate and build their case, digging into his phone records.
Jim Holland: What they find is this enormous amount of … communication between Jennifer Faith and Darrin Lopez. … Sometimes they’re communicating more than 500 times a day.
But starting the afternoon of October 8, the day before Jamie was killed, Darrin and Jennifer stopped talking for approximately 28 hours. That same day, Lopez told his daughters he was going out of town “on a hunting trip” for a few days. According to debit card records, he filled up at a gas station near his home, set his GPS for the Faith’s house, and headed west for the 10-hour drive to Dallas.
Peter Van Sant: He doesn’t realize it but he’s bringing law enforcement along with [sic] the ride, with all the evidence he’s leaving behind.
Jim Holland: Right. He’s leaving this trail. In some points, it’s, you know, giant markers and signs. And in others, it’s little breadcrumbs.
Steve Pickett: They can actually document where Darrin Lopez was. They’ve seen security video of him at a … convenience store, a gas station.
Surveillance photos from an Arkansas gas station show Lopez wearing a blue mask, the same color mask Jennifer Faith told police the killer wore. At 2:19 a.m. the next morning, GPS data shows he arrived at the Faith home. A security camera captured grainy images of him at the vacant house next door.
Jim Holland: It would make you wonder a lotta different things. You know … the level of patience that someone has to, you know, be able to stage five hours early and — and sit there and wait for this … murder to transpire.
At 7:30 a.m., when the Faiths came out to walk their dog Maggie, cops say he ambushed them, killing Jamie. Investigators say he then drove 650 miles back home to Tennessee.
Jim Holland: Law enforcement has to … figure out … why did he do it? … did he do it because of his own motives, because, you know, his love for Jennifer Faith. … or did someone else ask him to do it?
MORE THAN 116,000 TEXTS
In January 2021, three months after Jamie Faith was murdered, Dallas detectives had discovered evidence, including thousands of texts, that suggested Jennifer and Darrin Lopez had a profound connection — bordering on obsession — despite not having seen each other for decades.
Christy Jack: There’s no bigger motive for murder than love or wanting to be with someone else.
And the texts weren’t the only evidence against Lopez. Detectives also had that cell phone data placing him near the crime scene and GPS coordinates that showed his exact route.
Christy Jack: They could track him from Tennessee to Dallas and back to Tennessee.
To the authorities, it all added up to a murder charge.
CBS DFW NEWS REPORT: Now new this morning…an arrest made three months after an American Airlines employee was gunned down while walking his dog in Dallas. Police say Darrin Lopez …
Sgt. Joseph Calhoun was there when police pulled Lopez over on January 11, 2021, in Dickson, Tennessee, not far from his home.
Sgt. Joseph Calhoun | Dickson County Sheriff’s Office: He appeared to be nervous. But at the same time, he was very quiet …
Inside the vehicle, agents say they found a face mask, the same color as the one Jennifer had told police the gunman wore.
Jim Holland: She says that the man had black eyes and was wearing a blue mask.
As Sgt. Calhoun transported Lopez to the local jail, the investigative team headed for his house. There, authorities say they found a .45 caliber handgun.
Jim Holland: We know that Jamie was shot with a .45 caliber handgun round.
Authorities say ballistics tests later matched the gun found in Lopez’s house to shell casings found at the murder scene. Even more damning, authorities say that traces of Jamie’s blood were found on the gun.
Peter Van Sant: Why the heck wouldn’t he throw that gun away?
Christy Jack: You know … I don’t know if it wasn’t some kind of memento, some kind of symbol of his love for her or what he was willing to do to have her.
Peter Van Sant: And on the day that he is arrested, what is he charged with?
Christy Jack: What he’s charged with is a gun crime — a federal gun crime. And at the state level he’s charged with murder.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges and was transferred to the Dallas County jail where he was held on $1 million bail. At this point, police had become increasingly suspicious of Jennifer. Was she involved in the murder plot or covering up for Lopez after the fact? On the day of Lopez’s arrest, Dallas detectives brought her in for more questioning.
Peter Van Sant: Is that just a coincidence?
Jim Holland: No. Law enforcements woulda timed that exactly …So, everything is coordinated — to ensure that … Jennifer doesn’t know that Darren’s been arrested.
Detectives say Jennifer denied having a sexual relationship with Darrin Lopez but admitted the two communicated every day. And the volume was astounding. In the six months leading up to Darrin Lopez’s arrest, cops say the two texted each other 116,000 times.
Steve Pickett: When did they have time to sleep? When did they have time to eat? It was constant. They made sure that they communicated with each other all day long.
Christy Jack: Where they’re talking to one another about factory resetting their phone.
After Lopez texted Jennifer that he had deleted texts, she wrote: “Big smile
over here at that.” Lopez’s phone contained a lot of sexting between the two and many words of love. Darrin wrote: “I love you with all of my heart.” and Jennifer responded: “Sleep my angel. Holding you tight.”
Jim Holland: it goes so far that — they’re both tellin’ each other good night … and talking about, you know, eating chips and salsa.
But Jennifer Faith was not arrested. From the start, she had played the grieving widow. Remember that TV interview where Jennifer pleaded for help in finding the getaway truck?
Investigators now knew that Jennifer later woke up panicked that the “T” was still on Lopez’s truck. She texted Lopez: “something is eating away at me telling me you need to take the sticker out of the back window of the truck.”
Steve Pickett: At some point he responds to that text message. It says, “Sticker done.”
Peter Van Sant: Meaning it’s been removed.
Steve Pickett: He’s taken it off.
Jennifer was euphoric. “Oh YAY!!!!” she texted and then hours later: “I feel SOOOO much better.”
Steve Pickett: It looks like conspiracy. It looks like a connection between those two individuals who are working together to insure they cover their tracks.
Investigators also learned what Jennifer had been saying to Lopez in December 2020 after she failed to collect Jamie’s $629,000 life insurance policy.
Jennifer texted Lopez: “They aren’t processing the claim yet because … Detective Walton … told them I couldn’t be ruled out as a suspect. So I called him … And basically said “what the WTF.”
Christy Jack: She had the audacity, the boldness to contact the police and be righteously indignant as to why she didn’t know what was going on with the investigation and why she had not already been cleared as a suspect.
Jennifer was nothing if not bold. After Jamie died, she began showering Lopez—who was in financial distress—with cash and gifts. She got some of that money from the GoFundMe account set up to help her deal with Jamie’s loss.
Christy Jack: She drained that money within two months of people donating that sum.
Records show that Jennifer sent Lopez cash through a Venmo account, bought airplane tickets for him and his daughters, and allowed Lopez to use her credit cards. In an email, she wrote: “PLEASE don’t hesitate to use them for whatever you need.”
Steve Pickett: This email is Jennifer directly to Darrin. “Here’s both of my major credit cards. AMEX has no limit and I think the Visa has, like, $35,000 limit. I pay them both off every month, so you never need to worry about them being declined.”
Steve Pickett: There’s no limit here to do what she wants him to do … I think the authorities see this and they see someone is paying for murder …
Jennifer seemingly was doing anything she could to keep Lopez in her corner…even after he was arrested.
Christy Jack: She sent a message to him … through a third party … and she was telling him that she would always love him, that she would always be there for him no matter what happened.
But was it love, or loyalty Jennifer was after?
Christy Jack: She wants to make sure that he does not talk.
AN ELABORATE PLOT REVEALED
In early 2021, Darrin Lopez was behind bars in the Dallas County jail and authorities felt they had a solid murder case against him. But Jennifer Faith remained free, not charged with any crime.
Peter Van Sant: After Darrin Lopez is arrested, does he turn on Jennifer?
Jim Holland: No, no, in no way, shape or form.
Peter Van Sant: He’s being a good soldier.
Jim Holland: Right, yeah, he’s the knight … he has a sense of duty and this honor towards her.
Prosecutors went ahead and built their case against Jennifer without Lopez’s cooperation.
NEWS REPORT: 48-year-old Jennifer Faith is now facing obstruction of justice charges related to the murder investigation of her husband.
On February 24, 2021, Jennifer Faith was arrested but she was not charged with homicide. She was charged with obstruction of justice. An in-house camera shows her being booked at the Dallas County Jail.
Christy Jack: Obstruction of justice means if you’re tampering with or you’re destroying evidence to prevent its availability in a later trial or to — to prevent it being available at all, which is what she was doing in destroying or deleting text messages on her phone.
… or asking Lopez to take that “T” sticker off his truck’s window. The obstruction charge wasn’t enough for Jamie’s friend Ross Jensen.
Ross Jensen: And I said, “That wasn’t the charge that I was expecting.” And they said, “Well, that’s it, that’s what the charge is.”
Jennifer later pleaded not guilty.
Christy Jack: I think the police were being very thorough in their investigation. And they wanted to bring her into custody. Then she doesn’t have another opportunity to destroy any further evidence …
And authorities may have been glad they did. In Jennifer’s house they found computers containing a cache of emails that took the investigation in a whole different direction.
Jim Holland: You know the emails get absolutely bizarre.
The strangest and most disturbing emails came from an account in Jamie Faith’s name.
Christy Jack: And on the surface it appeared as though Jamie sent these messages.
The emails were explicit, and contained explosive claims that Jamie was physically and sexually abusing Jennifer. And there was more. The emails were addressed to Darrin Lopez, revealing an apparent connection between the two men in Jennifer’s life.
Steve Pickett: It’s Jamie Faith sending messages to Darrin that he is going to harm his wife. He’s going to sexually abuse his wife. And he wants Darrin Lopez to see it.
Peter Van Sant [reading email] He writes: “I am finally going to get what I want from her this weekend.”
Christy Jack: He was wanting Darrin to believe he was going to sexually assault her in all sorts of ways.
The highly charged emails seemed designed to taunt Lopez … to challenge him to action.
Peter Van Sant [reading email]: “Enjoy knowing you can’t do a f—— thing about it.”
Christy Jack: He was provoking him. He was goading him.
As investigators looked more closely at the emails, they discovered that some were coming from a second email address in the name of one of Jennifer’s male friends.
That friend’s emails corroborated the claims of abuse – some even had photos attached supposedly depicting what Jamie had done to Jennifer.
Peter Van Sant: Pictures that showed injuries?
Christy Jack: Pictures that showed injuries …
Peter Van Sant: And claiming this is my body. This is what he’s doing to me.
Christy Jack: Right
And there were messages from the friend asking Lopez for help in getting Jennifer away from Jamie.
Jim Holland, now a retired Texas Ranger, says the emails clearly made Lopez fear for Jennifer’s safety.
Lopez wrote to the friend’s account: “I know I won’t feel better about her situation until she is … away from him, or she lets me put a bullet in Jamie’s head. I keep offering and she keeps telling me no, LOL”
Jim Holland: It’s really pushin’ Darrin into this protective mode where he has to help her. He has to be the hero. He has to save her.
Holland says one of Jamie’s wounds suggests the emails had their desired effect on Darrin Lopez: that gunshot to the groin.
Jim Holland: I would guess that there’s some type of sexual background or connotation to the murder based on the shot to the groin.
Peter Van Sant: You know, we sometimes use the phrase that you couldn’t sell this if you were a screenwriter in Hollywood … It’s like a psychological thriller. Do you agree?
Jim Holland: Yeah. I mean, this is stuff that — I don’t think anyone could really make up … there’re so many layers to the onion. You know, fact is better than fiction at times … in this case, for sure.
Prosecutors weighed the emails along with all of the other evidence they were collecting against Jennifer—including her payments and gifts to Lopez. And in September 2021, seven months after she was charged with obstruction, Jennifer was charged a second time.
Steve Pickett: Jennifer Faith is now charged with murder for hire, a federal offense.
NEWS REPORT: A Dallas woman accused of orchestrating her husband’s murder could face the death penalty.
Ross Jensen: I said, “That’s the right charge.” That’s what I was waiting for.
In their indictment, prosecutors laid out the murder-for-hire case against Jennifer, revealing details of the vile emails sent to Darrin Lopez, and a shocking secret about who sent them.
Christy Jack: It was not Jamie at all that was sending these messages.
Peter Van Sant: Someone else was?
Christy Jack: Someone else.
Peter Van Sant: Posing as Jamie?
Christy Jack: Pretending to be Jamie. … It was Jennifer all along.
JENNIFER COMES CLEAN
When Jennifer Faith was finally charged with murder for hire prosecutors delivered that bombshell. Jennifer was the one who wrote all of those horrible emails to Darrin Lopez.
Christy Jack: There is no question that Jennifer Faith was the puppet master. And Darrin Lopez was her puppet.
…pulling the strings and orchestrating her husband Jamie’s murder.
Steve Pickett: It is mind-boggling. The wherewithal you have to have to help cultivate fake people, fake emails, pretending to be your husband, to try to manipulate Darrin Lopez. … I haven’t seen anything like that in a very, very long time.
Theresa Jensen: Just my mouth on the ground. … couldn’t believe what she had done.
The mystery is why? What drove Jennifer to want Jamie dead? She seemingly had it all—a husband and daughter who loved her, financial security, and a happy home.
Christy Jack: I think the grass is always greener, and there were a million reasons why on top of it. If you combine his life insurance and his 401k, that’s more than $1 million … She wanted more. People always want more. They always want more than what they have. They always think having more, having it different, having a different person, having someone exciting is gonna be better than what they have.
And “48 Hours” found that, incredibly, it wasn’t the first time Jennifer went down this path.
We tracked down Rick Urlaub, who was married to her in the early 2000s.
Rick Urlaub: She did the exact same thing to me.
Rick Urlaub: She’s just the most evil person I’ve ever come in contact with.
He says shortly after they began dating, they took a trip to Disneyland — the so-called happiest place on earth — where Jennifer spun an ugly story of how she’d been abused by her first husband.
Rick Urlaub: … physical, mental — emotional, sexual – just — it was shocking.
Rick Urlaub: It definitely came to a point where I wanted to kill him. And that lasted for a long time.
But then, he says, Jennifer changed her mind.
Rick Urlaub: It was like, “Oh, you can’t do this to my daughter’s dad.”
There is no evidence of any abuse. Rick says Jennifer wouldn’t go to the police. We reached out to her first husband but got no response.
Peter Van Sant: What is it about Jennifer Faith that was so irresistible to men, do you think?
Christy Jack: Well … there’s something about her personality that really drew men in … she had a way about her — of portraying herself as a victim of something.
And Rick admits he fell for it.
Peter Van Sant: Was he just the dry run?
Jim Holland: Yeah … I think so. I think, ultimately, where her failure was in Rick is this wasn’t a guy who’s capable of killing someone. … Now … is Darrin a person that you would look at and think he’s capable of killing someone? A U.S. Special Forces operative for more than 20 years in the military who’s been in combat? Yeah, this is a guy you know is goin’ to get the mission done.
Shortly after the murder-for-hire charge, Holland says self-preservation kicked in and Jennifer finally revealed the details of her intricate, manipulative plot to have her husband killed.
Steve Pickett: Jennifer Faith decides to accept to a plea agreement. She will cooperate with authorities.
On February 7, 2022, with attorney Toby Shook by her side, Jennifer appeared in a Dallas courtroom and pleaded guilty to one count of use of interstate commerce in the commission of murder-for-hire. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to take the death penalty off the table and recommend a life sentence. Jim Holland says even the guilty plea was vintage Jennifer.
Jim Holland: She can’t allow herself to face the death penalty, because she’s incapable of killing herself … Because at the end of the day, that’s the only person she really loves.
There was one important detail that authorities insisted be part of that plea.
Jim Holland: She has to admit to the fact that her husband never abused her … physically or sexually.
And as for those photos she’d sent showing injuries…
Steve Pickett: She sent images that we know are … stock images, fake images. They’re not real.
Jennifer also came clean about how she’d spent the GoFundMe money. Her supporters were devastated.
Jenna Wilson: It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking.
Peter Van Sant: Do you feel that you were taken advantage of?
Jenna Wilson: It’s hard not to feel that way.
Peter Van Sant: Do you feel betrayed?
Jenna Wilson: It’s hard not to feel that way.
Peter Van Sant: What kind of person would do that?
Melissa Gonzales: A monster?
Shamona Jackson: Yeah, a monster.
She may have used the GoFundMe account to pay Darrin Lopez, but court records show that Jennifer did not pay for Jamie’s funeral expenses and to this day, owes $6,500. What’s more, court records also show Jennifer has asked that $200,000 from Jamie’s estate be put into her prison commissary account.
Christy Jack: It’s a case of greed … manipulation. It’s a tragedy all the way around … She robbed the community of someone that they respected. She robbed her daughter of a father. It was a very selfish act on so many levels.
Jamie’s parents and sister did not attend the hearing. The family home was sold, and Amber moved out of Texas with their dog, Maggie. She still speaks to her mother twice a week.
Christy Jack: I mean, in the end Jennifer Faith is the only mother she’ll ever know.
After Jennifer signed her plea deal, Lopez also agreed to answer questions and admitted killing Jamie. He told investigators he reconnected with Jennifer because he “was in a very dark place” and initially never intended to reunite romantically or break up her family.
Christy Jack: It’s difficult to say which came first, whether it was the chicken or the egg … whether their romance was rekindled at the same time as her realization that he’s the perfect pawn.
Peter Van Sant: Now, when you say “romance,” this is a very unusual romance, one in which, apparently, they physically were never together.
Christy Jack: They were never physically together at that time …But memories are powerful.
Lopez, who hasn’t changed his not guilty plea, also told authorities the murder was Jennifer’s idea. His attorney has said publicly that Jennifer took advantage of Lopez, who suffered that traumatic brain injury in the Army.
Theresa Jensen: I almost feel that Jennifer is more responsible for Jamie’s death than Darrin. Because Darrin was, in my opinion … was just preyed upon by her. And she manipulated him to do what she wanted done.
Those who knew and loved Jamie, like former neighbor Melisa Gonzales, are still coping with his death.
Melisa Gonzales: He cared about people. … it didn’t matter what your race, religion. He didn’t care about any of that. He was just an easygoing guy. … He was the guy for our kids. … That meant a lot. … The kinda guy that he was, you can’t just get that anywhere.
Friends Theresa and Ross Jensen are grieving too.
Theresa Jensen: He was … just all-around wonderful guy. … I was blessed to know him.
Ross Jensen: I hope that Amber carries some of Jamie forward … I hope she really does something unique and special with his memory.
Jennifer Faith is scheduled to be sentenced on May 26.
Darrin Lopez’s trial date has not been set.
GoFundMe offered full refunds to anyone who donated to the Faiths’ account.
Produced by Paul La Rosa, Dena Goldstein and Josh Yager. Claire St. Amant and David Dow are the development producers. Jordan Kinsey is the field producer. Atticus Brady, Marcus Balsam, Gary Winter and George Baluzy are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer .