Profile of Jodi Arias and the Murder of Travis Alexander

Cold Blooded Killer or a Victim of Abuse?

Jodi Arias
Mug Shot

Jodi Arias was arrested on July 15, 2008, and charged with shooting and stabbing to death her 30-year-old ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, in his home in Meza, Arizona. Arias pleaded not guilty, claiming that she killed Alexander in self-defense.

Background

Jodi Ann Arias was born in Salinas, California, on July 9, 1980, to William Angelo and Sandy D. Arias. She has four siblings- an older half sister and two younger brothers and a sister.

Beginning at the age of 10, Arias showed an interest in photography which continued throughout her adult life. Her childhood years are unremarkable, however, she has said that she was an abused child, claiming her parents hit her with wooden spoons and a belt. The abuse allegedly began when she was 7-years-old.

Arias dropped out of Yreka Union High School in the eleventh grade. She continued to pursue her interest in professional photography while working at various part-time jobs.

Darryl Brewer

During the fall of 2001, Arias began working as a server at a restaurant located at the Ventana Inn and Spa in Carmel, California. Darryl Brewer, who was the food and beverage manager for the restaurant, was in charge of hiring and training the restaurant's employees.

Both Arias and Brewer lived in staff housing and in January 2003, they began dating. At the time Arias was 21 and Brewer was 40. They had already engaged in sex together before they began to officially date.

Brewer said that that time, Arias was a responsible, caring and loving person.

In May 2005, Arias and Brewer purchased a home together in Palm Desert, California. The agreement was that they would each be responsible for paying half of the mortgage payments of $2008 a month.

In February 2006, Jodi began working for Prepaid Legal, while keeping her server's job at Ventana.

She also began getting involved with the Mormon Church. She started having visitors to the home who were of the Mormon faith for Bible studies and group prayer sessions.

In May 2006, Jodi told Brewer that she no longer wanted to have a physical relationship with him because she wanted to practice what she was being taught at church and save herself for her future husband. It is also around the same time that she decided to have breast implants.

According to Brewer, during the summer of 2006 Jodi had begun to change as her involvement with Prepaid Legal increased. She became financially irresponsible and began defaulting on her financial responsibilities, including what she owed in living expenses.

As the relationship began to deteriorate, Brewer made arrangements to move to Monterrey to be closer to his son. Jodi was not planning to move with him and it was agreed that she would remain in the house until it could be sold.

Their relationship ended in December 2006, however, they did remain friends and would occasionally call each other. The following year the house went into foreclosure.

Travis Alexander

Arias and Travis Alexander met in September 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada, while attending a Prepaid Legal Services conference.

Alexander was 30 and worked as a motivational speaker and a sales representative for Prepaid Legal.

Arias was 28 and was living in Yreka, California, working in sales for Prepaid Legal and trying to develop her photography business. There was an immediate attraction between the two and according to Arias, the relationship became sexual a week after they met.

At the time, Arias was living in California and Alexander was in Arizona. They began traveling together to several states and when apart the relationship grew through emails (over 82,000 were eventually exchanged) and talking together on the phone daily.

On November 26, 2006, Arias was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in order, in her words, to get closer to Alexander who was a devout Mormon. Three months later Alexander and Arias began dating each other exclusively and she moved from California to Mesa, Arizona, to be closer to Alexander.

The relationship lasted around four months, ending in the later part of June 2007, although they continued to have sex together periodically. According to Arias, the relationship ended because she did not trust Alexander. She later alleged that Alexander was a sexual deviant who was physically and sexually abusive to her and that he wanted her to be his personal slave.

Stalking

After the relationship ended, Alexander began dating other women and allegedly complained to friends that Arias was jealous. He suspected that she had slashed his tires twice and sent threatening anonymous emails to him and to the woman he was dating. He also told friends that Arias had snuck into his home through a dog door while he was sleeping.

Secret Relationship

Despite the claims of being stalked, Alexander and Arias continued to travel together during March 2008 and maintained their sexual relationship.

According to Arias, she grew tired of being Alexander's secret girlfriend and when it came time for her to find another place to live after her roommate married, she decided to return to California.

Evidence shows that after Arias left Arizona, that the two continued to exchange sexually explicit internet messages and pictures.

According to Alexander's friends, in June 2008 he had enough of Arias after suspecting her of hacking into his Facebook account and bank accounts. He allegedly told her he wanted her to stay out of his life forever.

Alexander is Murdered

According to police records, on June 2, 2008, Arias rented a car from Budget Rent-a-Car in Redding, California, and drove to Alexander's home in Mesa, where they took pictures of them having sex together and in various nude poses.

On June 4, Arias drove back to California and returned the rental car to Budget-Rental.

Alexander's friends became concerned about him when he missed an important meeting and failed to show up for a planned trip to Cancun, Mexico. On June 9, two of his friends went to his home and woke up one of his roommates, who insisted Alexander was out of town.

He then checked Alexander's room which had been locked and discovered him dead on the floor of his shower stall.

Through an autopsy it was determined that Alexander had been shot in the brow, stabbed 27 times and his neck had been severed.

Evidence

The detectives handling Alexander's murder were able to collect a lot of forensic evidence at the murder scene. This included a camera which was found in the washing machine, which appeared to have been washed.

It was general knowledge that Alexander had grown annoyed with Arias' stalking. It was first suggested that Arias could be involved in Alexander's death during the 9-1-1 call that was made after Alexander's body was discovered. Other friends and family members who were interviewed by the detectives also suggested that the police should interview Arias.

Recovered Photos and DNA Results

Arias began calling Esteban Flores who was the detective that was in charge of the case. She asked about details of the murder and offered to help in the investigation. She claimed that she had no knowledge of the crime and that she had last seen Alexander in April 2008.

On June 17, Arias allowed herself to be fingerprinted and swabbed for DNA, as did many of Alexander's friends.

Two days after being fingerprinted, investigators questioned her about a series of photos which had been recovered from the memory card of the camera that was found in the washing machine. The photos, which were time-stamped on June 4, 2008, showed images of Alexander in the shower, likely minutes before he was killed. There were also images of him lying on the floor bleeding.

Other pictures, which had been deleted but recovered, were of Jodi, nude and posed in provocative positions, also time-stamped on the same day. Arias continued to insist that she had not seen Alexander since April.

A week later lab tests showed that a bloody print found at the murder scene contained DNA that matched Arias and Alexander. There was also a DNA match to Arias on hair found at the scene.

Happy Birthday

Over the following weeks, Arias attended a memorial service for Alexander, wrote a lengthy sympathy letter to his grandmother, arranged for flowers to be sent to his family and posted loving messages about Travis on her MySpace page.

On July 9, 2008, which was Arias' birthday, a California grand jury indicted her on first-degree murder. Six days later she was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and in September she was extradited to Arizona to face trial.

Lies and More Lies

Just days after being incarcerated in Arizona, Jodi Arias granted an interview with the Arizona Republic. During the interview, she insisted that she was innocent and had nothing to do with the murder of Alexander. She gave no explanation for why her DNA was found at the murder scene.

A few weeks later, on September 24, 2008, the television show, "Inside Edition" also interviewed Arias, but this time she admitted that she was with Alexander when he was murdered and that it was two intruders who did it.

She explained more about the murder in another interview for "48 Hours" on June 23, 2009. She said that she had been "miraculously spared" during what she called a home invasion. According to her story, Alexander had been playing around with his new camera and suddenly she found herself lying on the bathroom floor after hearing a loud pop.

When she looked up she saw a man and a woman, both dressed in black, approaching. They were carrying a knife and a gun. She said that the man pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger, but that nothing happened. She then ran out of the house, leaving Alexander, and did not look back.

She explained her reason for not calling the police was because she was afraid for her life and she was pretending that none of it happened. In fear, she drove back to California.

The Death Penalty

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office described the crimes of Jodi Arias especially cruel, heinous and carried out in a depraved manner and sought the death penalty.

Representing Herself

Months before the trial was to begin, Arias told the judge that she wanted to represent herself. The judge allowed it, as long as there was a public defender present during the trial.

A few weeks later, Arias attempted to get letters into evidence that she alleged were written by Alexander. In the letters, Alexander admitted to being a pedophile. The letters were tested and found to be forged. Within days of the forgery discovery, Arias told the judge that she was over legally her head and her legal counsel was reinstated.

The Trial and Sentencing

The trial against Jodi Arias began on January 2, 2013, in Maricopa County Superior Court with the Hon. Sherry K. Stephens presiding. Arias court-appointed lawyers, L. Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, argued that Arias killed Alexander in self-defense.

The trial was live-streamed and quickly gained worldwide attention. Arias spent 18 full days on the stand and talked about being abused by her parents, shared intimate details about her sex life with Travis Alexander and described how the relationship had become verbally and physically abusive. 

After deliberating for 15 hours, the jury found Arias guilty of first-degree murder. On May 23, 2013, during the sentencing phase, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision. A second jury convened on October 20, 2014, but they too were deadlocked 11-1 in favor of the death penalty. That left the sentencing decision up to Stephens, although the death penalty was now off the table. On April 13, 2013, Arias was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 

She is currently residing at the Arizona State Prison Complex - Perryville and is classified as a high-risk level 5 prisoner and remains in maximum security.