It wasn’t unusual for the police to arrive at Cynthia’s home in the middle of the day, however this time, they expected to find her dead. They always came and checked on her and warned her to never leave her house at night. Cynthia was a victim of domestic violence for two years until she got a divorce from her husband who was a man with a fiery temper.
After one week of marriage, Cynthia knew she had made a mistake. Jacob got addicted to his prescription opioids and began to brag and insinuate that he knew how to murder people and hide their bodies. He boasted on how he could get away with the crime and this frightened Cynthia. She feared for her own life and had to walk on egg shells around him.
Jacob constantly abused Cynthia with threats of violence. He was the type of husband that would act out aggressively and verbally abuse her. Even though she was able to make it through two years of marriage, Cynthia always feared her husband might kill her.
“He had a horrible temper,” Cynthia said. “If I said something he didn’t like, he would go into a screaming rage and it terrified me because I never knew if he would reach for a gun.”
Since the divorce, Jacob refused to move out of the property Cynthia was awarded. For revenge, Jacob killed two of her three pets. He shot her dog to death, then proceeded to poison and kill her cat with ethylene glycol and watched her stuffer to death. He also attempted to poison her other dog. Cynthia was devastated at the loss of her animals, so she left the house and went to live with her sister.
Almost two months later, she returned and Jacob was still living in her house. She called the police and they threatened to charge him with trespassing if he did not leave the house within three days. He refused.
“He called the police back and told them I broke into his home, stole thousands of dollars and put a gun to his head,” Cynthia said. “When that didn’t work, he called them again saying I vandalized his car.”
Cynthia realized what Jacob was trying to do. Jacob was setting her up to make the police believe she was the abusive one with a violent and explosive temper.
She told him “I know you are setting me up to murder me so that you can use me as your excuse for defense. You are making me out to be the crazy, bad guy,” Cynthia said. “I knew if I went to my house, he would have shot me dead.”
She got the call.
Firefighters rushed to her home which was up in flames. Jacob’s son from his previous marriage told Cynthia that Jacob had a history of burning personal property for insurance money and that this was in fact an act done by Jacob. His daughter from his previous marriage also confirmed her father’s habit of insurance fraud.
It was ruled arson and Jacob was arrested. Their investigation led them to discovering the fire had been started at the doorway of the master bedroom. After being taken to jail, Cynthia spoke with him about how the fire started while he was in the home. His story kept changing from he had an oil lamp and knocked it over to he was burning rats out of the house. In addition to his story changing, the police said he was displaying suspicious behavior.
Cynthia later learned that there were kitchen appliances missing from the house and that Jacob took them to a storage unit the same day he set fire to the house. She attempted to retrieve her belongings, but since the unit was filed under Jacob, she was not granted access.
Lone Star Legal Aid took on the case and first began with filing an injunction, which is a court ordered motion that compelled the storage facility to comply with her request of returning her belongings or be charged with contempt of court.
With the additional evidence against him, Jacob was also charged with insurance fraud. Lone Star Legal Aid was able to get Cynthia’s belongings back, get her a protective order, and change her name.
Jacob faces sentencing of 40 years starting in February of 2020. Cynthia is grateful for Lone Star Legal Aid helping her in every way they could to protect her.
“I am very appreciative for Lone Star Legal Aid and the attorney I had. She was understanding and caring towards my situation,” Cynthia said. “If I can help other domestic violence victims, I would encourage them to get out as soon as they can.”
- Names were changed to protect the identity of the client.