Death Row Diaries: Jimmy Wayne Jeffers made good on jailhouse plans to kill girlfriend

Death Row Diaries: Jimmy Wayne Jeffers made good on jailhouse plans to kill girlfriend
Posted at 6:53 AM, Mar 26, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-26 18:01:22-04

Arizona’s most notorious death row inmates past and present have incredible stories. 

Jimmy Jeffers bailed his girlfriend out of jail and then killed her, storing her body in the shower for three days.  



Date of Birth: June 7, 1946

Executed: September 13, 1995


In May 1976, Jimmy Wayne Jeffers and his girlfriend, Penelope Cheney, were arrested on narcotics charges and receiving stolen property. Jeffers was able to post bond for Cheney, but not himself and he remained behind bars.

He tried to hire another inmate to kill her

While in jail, Jeffers learned that Cheney was providing police with information about his heroin business. He tried to hire another inmate to kill her, but a correctional officer intercepted his offer letter.

Once Jeffers made bond in October, he was released from the Pima County Jail and plotted to take revenge on his girlfriend.

Jeffers soon met a woman named Doris Van Der Veer, and began living with her in a motel room in Tucson.

On October 20, 1976 Jeffers enticed Cheney to his motel room by offering her heroin. When Cheney arrived, Van Der Veer left the motel room, allowing Jeffers to be alone with her. When Van Der Veer returned, she was met by Jeffers who pointed a gun at her and told her to sit down.

Van Der Veer saw Cheney laying on the bed unconscious with foam coming from her mouth. Van Der Veer, a former nurse, recognized the signs of heroin overdose.

Jeffers told her, he had given her enough (heroin) to kill a horse

Jeffers told her, he had “given her enough (heroin) to kill a horse, and this (girl) still won’t die.”

Jeffers took Cheney’s belt and choked her with it and when Van Der Veer tried to get him to stop, Jeffers said, ”No, I’ve seen her like this before, and she’s come out of it.”

Even after Van Der Veer checked Cheney's pulse, and confirmed she was dead, Jeffers demanded that Van Der Veer inject her with still more heroin. Jeffers also beat Cheney, calling her names with each blow.

Jeffers put the body in the shower for three days

Jeffers put Cheney's body in the shower stall for three days.  After it began to smell, they both wrapped the body in plastic and buried Cheney in a shallow grave in a secluded area near Sedona.

Jeffers was convicted on February 9, 1978 and sentenced to death on April 19, 1978.


Jeffers last meal: After requesting three pounds prime rib, one pound of crab legs and three lobster tails (which DOC considered too extravagant) he was instead given:  

10 ounce steak


Rolls with butter

1 Baked potato with shredded cheddar cheese

Strawberry pie with whipped cream

Large chocolate malt


Jeffers last words:

He let loose a string of obscenities and then made an obscene gesture to his executioners and witnesses.