Mom of four fatally stabbed by homeless man she was trying to help, family says

A homeless man was arrested Friday for allegedly stabbing a mother to death in her Denver, Colorado, loft as she tried to help him get on his feet.

According to KCNC, police found Jeanna Leslie, 49, stabbed to death in her third-floor unit at the Rio Grande Lofts on Valentine’s Day. At the time, the mother of four was allowing Terry Dunford, 40, and another homeless man to live at her place as she helped them get stable.

An affidavit obtained by the station revealed that Leslie was killed six days before her body was discovered. Police made the grisly discovery after the woman’s ex-husband called 911 because she failed to pick up their teenage son and daughter for a basketball game.

“The stench was undeniable,” a neighbor who lives a few doors down told the news station.

Terry Dunford
Terry Dunford [Image: Denver Police Department]
Dunford reportedly used a set of kitchen knives to stab Leslie. KDVR reported that the Denver Police Department said surveillance footage captured Leslie and Dunford buying six-packs at a local liquor store on the day she was killed. Reports stated that a wallet, including several I.D. cards belonging to Dunford, were recovered from the bloody crime scene.

Leslie had reportedly moved to Denver in November to be closer to her two teenage children who had just relocated from San Antonio, Texas. The woman’s oldest daughter, Brittany Leslie, told KDVR that she believes her mother met Dunford outside her apartment building or near a mall weeks before her murder. However, police are investigating how the victim first met her suspected killer.

Brittany claimed that Dunford was taking advantage of her mother and wanted to move another person in–a request she said her mother rejected.

“You can’t just trust everyone,” Brittany said. “It doesn’t matter who they are. It doesn’t matter where they come from.”

Brittany also alleged her mother recently informed a cousin that Dunford had sent her threatening messages.

“It’s just really upsetting,” she said. “I wish she would’ve told us. I really do wish she would’ve showed us.”

Meanwhile, the suspect’s family recently told KUSA that Dunford had struggled with mental illness and bipolar disorder for decades. They also said that he was a sweet person who enjoyed poetry.

The news station also discovered that Dunford previously worked for a Hawaii-based Christian Educational training program to cure alcoholism. The website supposedly lists Dunford as a certified facilitator for addiction, anger management, and domestic violence.

Additionally, a resume apparently states that Dunford served in the U.S. Navy and had attended college.

Dunford was booked into the Denver detention center Saturday morning on a charge of first-degree murder.

[Featured Image: Jeanna Leslie/KDVR]