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Mom of girls found dead in Missouri charged with assault of husband, police say

Jenna M. Boedecker, the mother of two children found dead in Clay County, allegedly assaulted her husband about 12 hours before her children were pronounced dead.
Jenna M. Boedecker, the mother of two children found dead in Clay County, allegedly assaulted her husband about 12 hours before her children were pronounced dead. Clay County Sheriff's Office

A woman assaulted her husband about 12 hours before her children were pronounced dead under mysterious circumstances in Clay County, Missouri, according to police.

Jenna M. Boedecker was charged Thursday with third-degree domestic assault, armed criminal action and first-degree property damage. All are felonies. The charges stem from an argument with her husband about his fidelity, according to police records.

Boedecker found her daughters, 2-year-old Ireland Autumn Jane Ribando and newborn Goodknight Berretta June Ribando, unresponsive and not breathing Wednesday afternoon. Paramedics with the Kearney Fire Protection District pronounced the girls dead at the scene.

Ireland Ribando photo
Ireland Ribando, 2 years old GoFundMe

Police initially said they didn't suspect foul play. But on Thursday the Clay County Sheriff's Office announced it had called on the assistance of the Clay County Investigative Squad, which is made up of experienced criminal investigators from area agencies.

Police said Boedecker found the girls outside a home in the 15600 block of Cameron Road. The mother ran to a neighbor's house, and the neighbor called 911. Nearby neighbors did not wish to comment.

Capt. Will Akin of the Clay County Sheriff's Office said the incident was reported about 12:10 p.m. near the intersection of Missouri 92 and Cameron Road, east of Kearney in a sparsely populated area of rural Clay County.

goodknight ribando photo
Goodknight Ribando, 7 weeks old GoFundMe

About four hours after the girls were pronounced dead, police contacted Boedecker's husband, who is identified only as J.A.R. in court documents.

The husband told police that at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, he and his wife got into an argument "about (the husband) cheating on the suspect (Boedecker)."

As the husband tried to leave in a truck, Boedecker allegedly threw a brick toward his vehicle and then rammed it with a Jeep Patriot, court records state.

After the alleged assault, the husband left. He said he stayed with his mother in nearby Kearney. He remained there until contacted by police the next day about his daughters' deaths, police said.

Boedecker was taken into custody Wednesday and placed on a 24-hour hold. She was formally charged Thursday with the three felonies.

When asked if Boedecker was considered a suspect in her daughters' deaths, Clay County Deputy Jon Bazzano said, "The only thing I'm comfortable saying is she's charged with assault. And it's too early for me to put labels on something when we're trying to determine exactly what happened."

Bazzano added the probe remains a death investigation.

Akin said on Wednesday that police had ruled out water- and road-related causes of death. He added no firearms were involved.

Police records state Boedecker and the victim "had two children in common." Bazzano said he could not confirm whether Boedecker's husband, J.A.R., is the father of the two girls.

Boedecker's bond was set at $75,000. She remains in custody, according to Clay County jail records, and her next court date is listed as Monday.

A condition of her bond is that she not contact her husband.

Crime scene technicians from the Kansas City Police Department helped to collect evidence. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office will perform autopsies.

Because the case is an open investigation, a spokeswoman for the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office said no information could be released.

A GoFundMe campaign was established to cover the funeral expenses for the girls.

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