In situations where someone confesses to a crime, it’s usually an open and shut case for the authorities. After all, if a suspect says they did it, who’s going to argue?
But in the case of one teenager, even a confession wouldn’t reveal the whole story…
In November of 2016, some heart wrenching news gripped the people of Texas. As policemen were performing a welfare check on a home in Baytown they came across the scene of a grisly crime.
The police found the lifeless bodies of a 37-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl in their own home. Both the woman, who would later be identified as Cynthia Morris, and the daughter, Breanna Pavilicek, had been shot to death.
While the police certainly had justice for the victims on their minds, there was a more pressing matter at hand. The third member of the household, Kirsten, 16, was nowhere to be found.
Find Her Fast
Police had a very significant reasons for wanting to locate Kirsten as quickly as possible: it was possible that she was present at the time of the killings and, if so, she could be the perpetrator. But if she wasn’t responsible, it could mean that she herself had been another victim of the culprit.
If there was someone besides Kirsten involved, it meant that she may have been abducted by someone clearly capable of extreme violence. It was imperative that police find her ask quickly as possible if she were to survive. Naturally, they issued an amber alert for the missing teen.
Guy Walks Into A Bar…
Search teams fanned out across the wooded bayou around sunset looking for any signs of the missing teenager. Meanwhile, about 40 miles away in Texas City, a 21-year-old man named Jesse Dobbs walked into Shenanigan’s Bar with no shoes on his feet.
Calling The Ex
According to the bar’s owner Sarah Skaggs, her employees told her that “his shirt was wet and he was sweating. He asked to make a phone call, and spoke to someone and told them to come pick him up.” The person on the other end of the line was apparently Dobbs’ ex-wife, who he also asked to see his children one final time.
Instead of helping him out, Dobbs’ former lover called the police. They officers arrived on the scene and after a brief scuffle arrested him. His ex had called the cops for one simple reason: he was the boyfriend of the missing teenager.
During initial questioning with the police, Dobbs confessed to killing Kirsten, allegedly saying, “Kirsten is dead. I killed her. Not the real Kirsten, but the fake Kirsten.” Her mother Cynthia’s car was also found across the street from the bar where Dobbs was arrested.
Two days later, police discovered Kirsten Fritch’s body just 200 feet away from the Shenanigans. She had been stabbed nearly 60 times. Dobbs was charged with her murder and later would be charged with the murders of Cynthia and Breanna as well.
It seemed like an open and shut case all the way around. Jesse Dobbs had confessed to the murder of Kirsten, and was found in close proximity to her dead mother’s car. Naturally, he plead guilty to the murder of the 16-year-old but, surprisingly, he said he had nothing to do with the death of Cynthia or her other daughter.
It Wasn’t Him
According to Dobbs’ lawyer Jyll Rekoff, someone else was responsible for the other two deaths. “The case we’re going to present to the jury is that Mr. Dobbs had nothing to do with the Baytown murders,” she said.
“Kirsten got into an argument with her mom, something happened, both those murders occurred,” Rekoff continued. While she didn’t outright say it, she seemed to imply that it was Kristen who had shot her mother and sister rather than her client, though she didn’t deny that Dobbs was present on the scene at some point.
If fact, she concedes that Dobbs and Kirsten left her house together. “When he left with her,” Rekoff said, “They put it out on the news like he was the culprit and she was going to […] say he did it.”
Over The Edge
“That’s enough to push somebody over the edge and it just got wrong from there,” the defense attorney continued. In short, she was going to argue that Kirsten had been killed by Dobbs in a crime of passion.
Of course, the authorities had a very different opinion of what went down that day. “Obviously we’re going to argue against that,” said Baytown police Lt. Steve Dorris. It would all be settled in the court of law.
But that trial would be delayed for two years. Rekoff demanded a competency hearing for her client, alleging that Dobbs suffered from delusional episodes and couldn’t consistently understand the facts of the case.
That argument seemed to be bolstered by an angry hand-written letter Dobbs sent to the court, claiming that Kirsten was not actually dead. “There is no hard evidence supporting the facts laid against me,” he wrote. “I’m falsely accused of murdering someone which I know for a FACT isn’t even dead.”
Not All There
That claim seemed to echo back to his initial confession in which he said he’d killed the “fake” Kirsten. However, he would ultimately be found competent enough to stand trial and with his guilty plea accepted, it would all be over except for the sentencing.
Make It End
Facing a potential five to 99 years in prison, Jesse Dobbs could be locked away for the rest of his life. Whatever the sentence, the family of the victims can’t wait for the ordeal to end. “I so much want this trial to be over,” said Breanna’s grandmother, Peggy Perkins, “so I never have to hear his name again.”