I am Cheryl Alford, Jody’s Mother. Every female in this courtroom that has given birth to a child knows that the one thing you wait to hear after that final push is the cry of your little precious baby and then you know everything is okay. I gave birth to Jody Lynn Alford on June 13, 1983 at 10:31 p.m. She weighed 6 lbs. and 5 oz and was 19 1/2" long. The doctor handed Jody to her daddy and he brought her over to me and all I could do was cry. All that waiting was finally over and I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. The nurses then took her to clean her up, measure and weigh her and then while the doctor was stitching me up, the nurse handed me my tiny baby girl. She opened her little eyes and looked at me and my heart nearly melted.
Jody had an outgoing personality and never met a stranger. She was extremely beautiful, intelligent, driven and excelled in anything she put her mind to. She walked at 10 months old and when she started school she got along with everyone. She kept a B average and never even brought a book home. She played the flute in the Dyer Junior High Band, was a junior high cheerleader and was voted homecoming queen in 8th grade. She continued to play the flute for the Gibson County Pioneers and graduated in May of 2001.
Jody brought immeasurable joy to her father and I, her older sister Kristen, younger brother Drue, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and co-workers. Jody just had a sweet spirit....a gift.
Jody excelled to the extent that she was a manager at two different establishments in Jackson by the age of 22.
You see, Jody was not just my baby but we were friends too. We worked less than a mile from each other, talked on the phone several times a day and went to lunch at least 2 days a week. Jody and I both shared the love to dance. Whether it be going out dancing together, dancing around the living room and laughing when I couldn’t quite move the way she could. We would ride around singing RESPECT by Aretha Franklin with the windows rolled down. We would both laugh so hard.
However, one thing that Jody always wanted to do was become a “mother.” She actually accomplished that when she gave birth to her sweet baby boy Taylor on November 15, 2006. I held her hand through the contractions but since he was so big, they had to do an emergency c-section. I remember her laughing when the family went back to the recovery room. She said, “I beat you Momma, he weighed 9 lbs. 3 oz.” Until then, I held the record because her brother Drue weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz.
Jody was a wonderful mother to Taylor. You could just see the love in her eyes when he smiled at her. I remember one Saturday Jody laid Taylor on a pallet in the floor of my townhouse. He had just began to roll over. She said to me, “I cannot wait to hear him say Momma.” I told her it wouldn’t be long. She was so proud of him.
Then, on Sunday, June 3, 2007 all of our lives changed forever!!! I received a call from Lisa Alford who told me to get to Gibson General Hospital in Trenton. I asked her why? She said just get to the hospital. At this moment, I could feel myself stop breathing and my heart felt as if it had fallen to my feet. I asked, “which one is it?” She said, “it’s Jody, Billy shot her.” I got off the phone, was running through my townhouse screaming, trying to find something to wear because it was Sunday and I was just lounging around. My sister Jennifer lived with me at the time and we both got to the hospital as fast as we could. I knew that Tommy and Lisa were on their way back from the mountains and I had to get there fast because with Jody being single, the doctor’s wouldn’t tell anybody anything until a parent arrived.
I remember pulling up in the ER parking lot and seeing family members everywhere. I parked, jumped out of my blazer and ran into the ER. I told the nurse at the window that I was Jody’s mother and I wanted to see her. At that time, my sister Cindy went back with me. When I walked through the door it was if my mind had just shut itself off, like I was in a horror movie or just watching one. A doctor walked up to me and my sister and asked which one of us was Jody’s mother. I said, “I’m Jody’s mother.” Cindy was holding onto me. He said, “we did everything we could do but she didn’t make it.” I said, “what did you say.” The doctor said, “she died and I’m so sorry.” My knees gave way and Cindy caught me as I was about to hit the floor. I said, “I want to see my baby.” The doctor asked if I was sure. I said, “I want to see my baby.” I remember Cindy holding me up and we were walking very slowly to the back. I remember seeing several policemen and a nurse that went to school with Jody sitting in the corner on a chair crying. As we walked into the back room, I saw a body laying on a table covered with a white sheet. I SCREAMED so loud that the family members heard me in the parking lot. I told Cindy, “he killed my baby, he killed my baby.” I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. This isn’t really happening. I’m really dreaming and someone please pinch me and wake me up.
I grabbed the white sheet and slowly pulled it back. There was my baby lying on that cold table, completely covered in blood and her eyes were open as if she were looking at me saying, “momma help me.” They tried to close her eyes but they couldn’t. Those same beautiful eyes that I saw for the first time when I brought her into this world. But, this time she wasn’t moving or crying. You see, I got to say hello to my beautiful baby girl when I brought her into this world, but I didn’t even get to say goodbye. All I could do was lay across her body, kiss her and tell her how much I loved her.
I asked the nurse to get me a “warm wash rag” so I could clean her up because I didn’t want her daddy to see her like that. I cleaned the blood off of my baby and screamed and cried the entire time. It took about 45 minutes before my sister and I were ready to go out and tell the family. Everyone just began screaming, crying and running everywhere. I thought I was going to die. In a way, part of me did die on June 3, 2007. I wasn’t there to protect her the way mother’s protect their children.
My life as I knew it has forever changed because of the evilness of Billy McIllwain, or “bout it” as your friends called you. I can’t sleep, I keep seeing her bloody face, I only eat one meal a day. I am tortured daily wondering what terror my baby must have felt knowing that you walked into her father’s house with a gun and she had no way of protecting herself. After you shot her, she tried to crawl to her baby and died by the front door, alone. You are an evil coward and your actions have changed many people’s lives forever. You deserve to spend the rest of your life in jail. Law abiding citizens shouldn’t have to worry about people like you walking the streets.
Your mother can still visit you in prison, hug you and tell you that she loves you. I will never be able to hug my baby, spend time with her or tell her how much I love her. You made sure of that.
You say you love your son but you could never love your son and “kill his mommy.” You took my baby from me and the state will take your son from you. May God forgive me for never forgiving you.
Your impact statement gave me chills, I wish with all my heart you would have never had to write this. I pray no other mom will ever have to but I know that will never be. I know how you feel about not being able to say goodbye to Jody and the doctors words to me were exactly the same "We did everything we could but we couldn't save Jim." I just sat and said No over and over again. I couldn't go see him I just didn't want it to be true. You are a very strong loving mom.
Oh Cheryl, I am so sorry you had to write this and was moved to tears by it. This is something that no mother should ever have to do. Thank you for sharing with us. I know we will have it coming up and I am taking your advice and writing down things I want to remember.
Wow I'm just sitting here dazed. You poor poor thing, and so strong words! I hope that I can be as strong as you when it is my time to read (and write) my impact statement. There is so much I'd want to say, you have touched my soul and I know anyone who hears this will feel the pain you are living in.
Know your lovely daughter is right there, right behind your shoulder, just a breath away, holding you forever in her heart as you hold her forever in your heart.
Your impact statement was moving beyond tears.
Kayt, Wes Matheson's mom
My God, I'm at a loss for words. This Impact statement ,,,,,,, oh my God, I'm still crying but, I guess all I can say is. I'm so sorry. I hope to God Chris writes a statement that sends this message to those who need to hear it. I'm so sorry Cheryl.
What a hard job that must have been, but your impact statement was just what it needed to be to the point. I'm sure Jody was right there with you as you wrote it and as you read it. It makes my stomach turn to think these are the things we have to do for our children, because someone thought they had the right to take them from us.
Love and hugs to you and your family and especially Taylor.
Thanks so much for sharing your impact statement. It is an inspiratation for those of us moms that have not reached that stage yet. I am sure many of us will wonder how we will ever find the strength to get through it but we know we can do it when we see the strength & courage of moms like you. We are so sorry about the loss of your daughter and know how wrong it is that any of us should even have to travel down this road. All of our Love...Laura & AV
Dear Cheryl Thank you for sharing your statement,You write from the heart and I felt I got to know Jody more after I read about her on the forum.It certainly did leave an impact on me.She is a beautiful girl who certainly was special.The love poured out as each word was spoken describing her and your special bond that only a mother can try to explain.God Bless you and send you peace and comfort.Many Many hugs your way Love Barb
I wanted to share my impact statement with all you loving MOMS because I don't know how many of you haven't gotten to that point yet. I wanted to give you some sort of idea of how to get through it. I took Jody's eyes and focused on them when I saw them for the first and last time. I'm so glad I found this website and the wonderful, caring, loving MOMS. Thank all of you for your loving responses and I truly know, as all of you MOMS do, that this pain will be with us forever.