Minnesota businessman get life for 1993 fatal stabbing

Published 4:43 pm Friday, September 9, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota businessman was sentenced to life in prison Friday for fatally stabbing a woman nearly three decades ago after the investigation into her death was revived by DNA advances and genealogy.

Jeanne “Jeanie” Childs, 35, was found stabbed dozens of times in a Minneapolis apartment in June 1993.

Fifty-six-year-old Jerry Westrom was convicted last month of first- and second-degree murder in her death. Westrom, who has maintained his innocence, will not be eligible for parole until he has served 30 years in prison.

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His attorney, Steve Meshbesher, said they will seek a new trial through an appeal directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which is allowed for first-degree murder convictions.

Meshbesher takes issue with Judge Juan Hoyos’ refusal to allow evidence that the man who rented the apartment where Childs was killed assaulted her just months before the murder.

The hearing in a Hennepin County courtroom was packed with members from both Childs’ and Westrom’s families.

“I waited so many years to have this end, and it put my life through so much hell,” said Betty Gertrude Eackman, Childs’ mother, told the judge.

Hoyos acknowledged the “pain and anguish” experienced by both families before he sentenced Westrom, the Star Tribune reported.

“I’m well aware that this case has not just affected your life but theirs, too,” Hoyos said of Westrom and his family. “However, you took Jeanie Childs’ opportunity of a life. She was not able to continue to be with her family to provide her love to her family, and she was deprived of receiving that love.”

Westrom was arrested in 2019 after DNA collected from a hot dog napkin he discarded at a hockey game matched a hit from a genealogy website.