Known to millions of viewers as the long-haul trucker from Ice Road Truckers, Jack Jessee was an optimist who cheered for the Raiders and Dodgers, drove classic cars and enjoyed family pool gatherings and tequila with dinner. He didn't lock his door or carry a gun. His family, friends and co-workers cherished him.
But on Aug. 13, 1998, he was dead from multiple stab wounds — and the man who killed him escaped with little to no punishment. That prompted law-enforcement detectives to review the cold case and to suspect that Sandra Jessee, his wife of 27 years, recruited her son Thomas Aehlert and friend Brett Germainen to do the deed.
In what prosecutors say was a murder-for-hire scheme, the mother and stepson got the couple's Placentia home and all of his 401(k) death benefits and insurance. Now, they're both in jail on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a felony. But a jury didn't buy the theory that they hired a hit man, and the case ended in a mistrial this week when one juror voted not to convict the defendants. It was a stunning turn of events that brought a relieved smile to Jessee's makeup-free face, caused Aehlert to weep and left her brother, sisters and two daughters with another setback in their 11-year quest for justice. Aehlert will be sentenced in September and Germainen is scheduled to be released in July. Both men have admitted guilt in exchange for sweet plea deals.