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So that her beloved show dogs would not be “upset” by the sight of her boyfriend’s lifeless body after she shot and killed him in cold blood inside her barn, Jaqueline Bledsoe decided to move the body from the pups’ view.
This was just one part of a bizarre story that the 56-year-old Bumpass, Virginia resident told police last June after she shot 59-year-old Melvin Hansen to death after he tried to break off a romantic relationship with her.
Bledsoe was convicted of second-degree murder on Thursday following a two-day jury trial in Louisa County, Virginia.
“Twenty years ago, she would have gotten away with murder,” Louisa Commonwealth Attorney Rusty McGuire told Law&Crime in a phone interview Friday. “The victim may have fit the stereotype in the sense that he had never had much income, just did tree work and kind of looked a bit rough, and she’s just this little old lady who said he attacked her, choked her, and she had no choice but to shoot him.”
But with modern technology, namely forensic analysis done on Bledsoe’s vehicle, McGuire said Bledsoe’s alibi fell apart and the truth about what happened to Hansen on the night of June 4, 2022, finally came out.
Prosecutors said it was just after 9 p.m. when Bledsoe received a text from Hansen telling her he wanted to break up. Then, exactly three hours and 20 minutes later, Bledsoe called the non-emergency line at the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office.
McGuire said in the 25 years he’s been a prosecutor, he had never heard an emergency call quite like it.
“Hi. Oh its fine. How are you doing,” Bledsoe could be heard saying in a recording of the call provided to Law&Crime by the Louisa Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. “I was calling to say that I shot someone earlier and I wasn’t sure what you do about that.”
She told dispatch Hansen was a “renter” of hers who “keeps trying to be my boyfriend, I guess you could say.”
In the rambling call, Bledsoe first told police Hansen had attacked her as she fled from him up her long driveway to her home and then went into the barn where they scuffled again. He was mad at her, she told police, because he thought she was having sex with another neighbor.
Once inside the barn, she claimed she raised the gun up and told him to come any further.
“He didn’t listen and that’s what happened,” Bledsoe said, adding that she “just pulled the ticker.”
As dispatch tried to walk her through the exact details of where on the property Hansen was shot, Bledsoe quipped: “He was dead in the barn but I didn’t want my dogs who were all in the barn to have to be worried about all of that so I had to pull him out of the barn, yes ma’am. I didn’t want my dogs upset about him so that’s why I pulled him out.”
Ultimately, Louisa County detective Mark Stanton provided evidence at trial showing that shortly after she shot Hansen, Bledsoe drove her car to a friend’s house — an ex-boyfriend, according to McGuire — and brought the ex-boyfriend back to the crime scene to help her move the body.
According to McGuire, he wouldn’t do it.
Bledsoe also enlisted the aid of neighbors to help her cover her tracks after the murder. Prosecutors said she asked one neighbor to go into Hansen’s trailer, get his phone and delete texts and emails off it.
McGuire said Hansen had no violent criminal record. At trial, Bledsoe’s own mother had testified that Hansen doted on the 56-year-old woman and “followed her around like a puppy.”
“I dug inside and out and learned everything I could about this man and the reason I fought so hard was this man didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” the prosecutor said.
Hansen had limited run-ins with the law, including a DUI, but there was no history of violence in his background. He was a father to three and is survived by a number of grandchildren.
Though Bledsoe said Hansen had choked and pushed her down to the ground multiple times, she showed no signs of injury on her body when arrested, according to detectives.
McGuire said the man who Bledsoe asked for help to move Hansen’s body had told her at one point if she wanted to beat jail time, she would need to claim self-defense and show bruises or choke marks.
As it would turn out, the prosecutor said, when Bledsoe was being interviewed by police after the murder, there was a break in the session of about three hours. Police had to return to the crime scene to make sure they didn’t miss any evidence.
Once the session resumed, Bledsoe told detectives she did have a bruise on her elbow that she had forgotten about.
The 56-year-old testified on her own behalf for more than four hours. She told the jury was she was scared for her life.
“It is a tragedy she shot a man in cold blood. It only made it worse that she spent the past year trying to portray the father of three as a violent man. Fortunately, the jury saw through her lies,” McGuire said.
In addition to the second-degree murder conviction, Bledsoe was also convicted of using a firearm in the commission of murder. She will be sentenced in January 2024 and faces up to 43 years in prison.
An attorney for Bledsoe could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
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