CLAY COUNTY — A Clay County jury found Jenna M. Boedecker of rural Kearney guilty Friday, May 19, of two counts of second-degree murder, four counts of child endangerment, one count of fourth-degree domestic assault and one count of first-degree property damage after a weeklong trial.
Boedecker, 35, was indicted by a grand jury in 2019 after her infant and toddler daughters were found dead outside their rural Kearney residence on the Fourth of July in 2018.
Goodknight Beretta J. Ribando, 7 weeks, and Ireland Autumn J. Ribando, 2, were located unresponsive outside the family’s home in the 15600 block of Cameron Road on July 4, 2018.
Court documents state the children were “killed by hyperthermia after being left in a hot automobile with inadequate care.”
Court documents state Boedecker told Clay County deputies she had the children in her Jeep the night of July 3 because she didn’t want them to hear her argue with her husband. Court documents also state Boedecker told authorities she did not have her house key and was locked out of her home so she took her children to sleep in the Jeep. Boedecker reportedly told investigators her vehicle had less than a quarter tank of gas at the time.
When Boedecker woke up, she found her two girls unresponsive and took them to a neighboring home for help.
“She fell asleep in the vehicle with her children. She woke up and found the children unresponsive. She tried to revive the children with water. She entered the storage shed on the east side of the residence by ripping off the lock to get a gas can for the vehicle,” a detective’s probable cause statement reports.
“I dozed off for just a second. When I woke up, I saw them and ran to the neighbors,” Boedecker is cited in a search warrant as telling deputies.
During an interview with a Clay County detective, Boedecker's husband, Joe Ribando, allegedly stated the Jeep had been broken down on July 3, and that around 10 p.m. he and his mother had the vehicle towed to the family's house on Cameron Road. Around 11:30 p.m., Ribando left the residence to purchase cigarettes. Upon returning, Ribando and Boedecker got into a fight, court documents state.
“He got into his vehicle to leave. Mrs. Boedecker rammed his vehicle with her Jeep Patriot,” the search warrant states.
Boedecker was arrested July 6 of that year on a felony warrant with charges of domestic assault, armed criminal action and property damage following the dispute. Jurors did not convict her of one count of armed criminal action related to the case.
Search warrants from the time of the children's deaths state a Missouri children's services investigator responded to the family's residence on the Fourth of July after a hotline call was made to the office for an “assessment.”
Upon arrival at the property July 4, the investigator told a Clay County detective he noticed a silver SUV in the driveway with its rear lights on and the motor running.
“He commented he didn't know if someone was just getting home or if they were getting ready to leave,” the search warrant states. “He also said he thought someone may have just left the lights on for the car by accident.”
The children's investigator stated he looked toward the SUV and walked along the driver side of it but didn't see anyone.
“(The investigator) stated if there was someone seated upright in the front seat of the car, he would have seen them, but he may not have seen children seated in the back or an adult in the front if they were slumped over,” the warrant document states.
The investigator also knocked on the door of the residence, which he reported had the interior door open but a screen door closed. The investigator reported knocking on the door three times with no answer. “He didn't see anything unusual through the open door.”
The investigator told the county detective he went back to his car, waited several minutes to see if someone came to the door and left when no one did.
Boedecker will be sentenced at a future court date.
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