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Saturday 23 June 2018

Dublin dad reveals fears for son after former partner marries notorious US prisoner

Denise Stalford (31) wed so-called 'Woodland Park Killer' Jacob Ind in Teller County Jail, Colorado, last month
Denise Stalford (31) wed so-called 'Woodland Park Killer' Jacob Ind in Teller County Jail, Colorado, last month

Claire McNeilly

A Dublin-based dad has revealed his fears for his son after learning his former partner has married a notorious US prisoner convicted of double murder.

North Belfast native Denise Stalford (31) wed so-called 'Woodland Park Killer' Jacob Ind in Teller County Jail, Colorado, last month - on her first trip to the United States.

Ind, who has already served 25 years, has won a retrial over the killings of his mother Pamela Jordan and stepfather Kermode Jordan, after a US judge ruled that the then-teenager was wrongly denied the right to testify on his own behalf.

Ind (40) admits killing the pair in a shooting and stabbing attack while they slept at their Woodland Park home in the early morning of December 17, 1992. But he has insisted it was in self-defence after suffering years of abuse.

'Woodland Park Killer' Jacob Ind
'Woodland Park Killer' Jacob Ind

"I don't know when it will be or how it will happen, but I believe he's coming home," said the now Mrs Ind, who told the Colorado Springs Gazette that should Ind be released following his retrial, the couple would set up home in Northern Ireland.

"It would be a fresh start in a country where no one knows him as Jacob Ind, the guy who killed his parents, and a safe place to heal and rebuild," she added.

"Jacob, more than anything, wants to be normal and have a normal life, and give his family some sense of normality, which he knows they can't have until he's out."

But, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, her ex Ashley Byrne said he now feared for the safety of their 10-year-old son.

Ashley Byrne
Ashley Byrne

"I'm frightened for my son's life; I'm sick with worry," he said.

Mr Byrne (30), an IT worker who knows , and Mrs Ind lived together in Whiteabbey and in Whitehead for two years before splitting. They'd lost contact in recent times, but the revelation that she'd married Ind came as a big shock.

"I was sick inside and so scared and worried for my son," he said.

"I sit up at night-times thinking about (my son) and worrying if my son's okay. I feel powerless.

"When I think about what she's done - that she married this man - I'm just speechless.

"As a parent, I would like to know why, out of everyone in the world - and there's a lot of people - why this person?"

Denise Stalford (31)
Denise Stalford (31)

Mr Byrne, who is now off work with stress "over this whole episode", said he was going to enlist the help of a solicitor so that he could fight for full custody of the boy through the courts.

"It's for his safety; his safety is my number one priority," he said.

"I feel it's necessary to get my son removed from her. I'd never forgive myself if anything happened to him."

He said he hasn't had any contact with his son, who will turn 11 in May, for five years.

He spilt with Mrs Ind when he was only seven months old and said he only learned about her behind-bars wedding when he read the interview she gave to a newspaper in the States. "Everybody moves on, it's the way of life, people get into relationships, and sometimes they don't work out and we move on and we meet somebody new, and that's fine. But for her to watch a documentary and then decide that 'I'm going to write to this guy and then marry him', to me it's not normal behaviour. That's my opinion," he said.

"As a parent, if I was in contact with a woman and she had a bad background, or if she was violent or on drugs, I'd take myself out of that scenario. I don't want to have my child put in any danger. Even if it's a one per cent risk, that's a one per cent chance."

The idea that Mrs Ind ultimately wants to bring Ind to Northern Ireland astounds him.

"Fair enough, people fall in love all the time, but I still can't get my head around it," he added. "She's thinking only of herself, not (my son). She'll tell you that she'll always put (my son) first and she only thinks about him, but I disagree with that.

"She's not thinking about (my son) because if you took a survey of parents and asked them if they'd put their child in this scenario, I would stake everything I have that the majority of parents would say they wouldn't."

Meanwhile Mrs Ind, who is now back home, believes a retrial will prove that her husband was wrongly locked up - and allow them to finally live together as man and wife.

When the newlyweds tied the knot on January 19 they were separated by a plate glass partition, and have yet to kiss or hold hands as husband and wife.

Mrs Ind told the Gazette that she fiercely believed in her husband and, despite the seriousness of his past crimes and their highly unusual relationship, "it might be a little bit safer than meeting a guy at the bar and bringing him home. I trust Jacob. He is me".

She added: "There are not many women who can say they have full access to mental health records and every detail of (their partner's) past."

Mrs Ind's unusual relationship began when she saw him in 2013 documentary Lost For Life, about juveniles in the US serving life without parole.

"I heard it in his voice. He's not a monster. He's never been a monster," she said.

Then, in what she calls "the craziest thing I've done", she wrote to Ind to wish him luck in his bid to be freed.

Recently the US Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles were "cruel and unusual punishment", resulting in a spate of resentencing hearings.

As Ind's older brother Charles would testify, Kermode Jordan molested the brothers repeatedly in what they came to call the "bathroom sessions".

Ind later said that in addition to physical and verbal abuse, his mother also sexually abused him until the age of 12.

"The parents should not have died, and it's sad that they did, but they were not the only victims," said Mrs Ind.

No date has been fixed for Ind's retrial, when the 1994 murder conviction will either be quashed or upheld. But in any case it's unlikely his life sentence would be renewed, hence his new wife's optimism that the couple could soon be living as a married couple on this side of the Atlantic.

"People (in Northern Ireland), even if they knew what happened, wouldn't be aghast in the street," said Mrs Ind, adding that her family are fully supportive of her choices. "Where I'm from, if something bad happens to someone who rapes children, people don't have a lot of sympathy for them. But a lot of people over here believe he shouldn't have been locked up in the first place."

Mrs Ind did not respond to requests from the Belfast Telegraph for a comment.

Belfast Telegraph

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