The mother of two young girls found dead last week in Clay County, Missouri, told police she and her children slept in a vehicle after she lost her house key.
When Jenna Boedecker woke up the next morning, her girls, 2-year-old Ireland Ribando and newborn Goodknight Ribando, weren’t breathing, she told police. The girls were pronounced dead by emergency personnel shortly after noon on July 4.
They were found near the intersection of Missouri 92 and Cameron Road, east of Kearney in a sparsely populated area of rural Clay County. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office initially didn’t suspect foul play but later called on the assistance of experienced criminal investigators to work the case.
Less than three hours before the frantic 911 call from a neighbor — who helped Boedecker attempt to cool her lifeless children with water, wet rags and fans — a social worker with the Missouri Children’s Division in Clay County had responded to the residence, according to a search warrant.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The social worker, identified as JaQuan Humphrey, told police he wasn’t paying attention to the vehicle, which he described as a silver SUV. He did say he was certain the vehicle was running.
“Humphrey said he did not want someone thinking he could have been prowling around cars out in a rural area,” police wrote.
Humphrey said he arrived at the home between 9:30 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. The 911 call came in at 12:10 p.m.
He said he knocked on the door of the residence several times, waiting a minute or two between knocks.
He then walked past the driver’s side door of the silver SUV (police said Boedecker has a silver Jeep Patriot). He estimated he was about 2 or 3 feet away from the vehicle but didn’t see anyone inside.
But Humphrey acknowledged to police that he may not have seen children in the back or an adult in the front if they were slumped over, according to the documents.
Humphrey, when reached by phone, said, “I don’t have any comment. You’ll have to talk to my supervisor.”
A person with the Clay County office of the Missouri Children’s Division referred the Star to a spokeswoman based in Jefferson City. The spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Children’s Division had received a hotline call regarding the Ribando girls the night before, around 11 p.m.
That’s around the time that Boedecker’s husband alleges Boedecker threw a brick at his truck and rammed it with her Jeep Patriot. Boedecker had accused her husband, identified as Joseph Ribando in court documents, of infidelity that night, according to court records.
Boedecker faces three felony charges stemming from that alleged altercation. Her cash-only bond was set at $75,000. She has not posted bond, according to court records, and she pleaded not guilty on Monday.
She told police her Patriot had very little gas, and she and her children were locked out of the house after her husband left following the altercation.
Ribando told police he thought the children were inside the residence when he left.
“My husband left between 3 and 4 a.m. to get cigarettes and gas,” Boedecker told police. “He was in the field with some girl and never came back. I had the babies in the car because I didn’t want them to hear us argue. I dozed off for just a second. When I woke up I saw them and ran them to the neighbors’.”
Boedecker told police she later found a key but hadn’t entered the residence. But an officer responding to the scene reported the front door was ajar. The windows of the Patriot were up, the sergeant observed.
Samples of Boedecker’s blood and urine were taken as evidence. Authorities also swabbed her mouth.
A GoFundMe account established to defray funeral expenses for the family has raised more than $11,000.