Jennifer A. Stafford

Jennifer A. Stafford

Jennifer Stafford (29) was beaten to death over her ex-boyfriend's debt

March 19, 2009

A 29-year-old Muncie woman was murdered this week over a debt that wasn't even hers, according to the victim's mother.

Jennifer A. Stafford, 29, 708 N. Eastwood Ave., was found beaten to death inside her mobile home about 8:30 a.m. Friday by her mother, Debbie Stafford.

Debbie Stafford told The Star Press on Friday afternoon that Muncie police were looking for a man who had lent money to her daughter's ex-boyfriend.City police on Friday night identified the suspect as Robert A.C. Murphy, a 40-year-old convicted felon from Muncie.

Debbie Stafford suspected her daughter's slaying was related to the debt because her daughter's car, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation were missing from the home Friday."Jennifer had no enemies," Debbie Stafford said. "She was a good, loving girl."

Police on Friday morning issued a be-on-the-lookout for Stafford's missing silver 2004 Grand Am. Murphy was not publicly identified as a suspect until several hours later.  "We have some things we are following," Muncie police Capt. Mark Vollmar said Friday afternoon. "But nothing I can release at this point."

Family and co-workers became suspicious that Jennifer Stafford was in trouble after she failed to show up for work Thursday at the Ball Memorial Hospital Pain Clinic, where she was a medical assistant. Debbie Stafford last spoke to her daughter by phone Wednesday evening.  In that conversation, Jennifer told her mother that Murphy had stopped by her home that evening asking for her ex-boyfriend's new cell phone number.

The suspect, according to Debbie Stafford, had been friends with Jennifer and her ex-boyfriend.Debbie Stafford said she spoke with Jennifer's ex-boyfriend by phone Friday and he was cooperating with the investigation. "He was very upset," she said.

The couple had met online last year. He moved to Muncie from Ohio to be with Jennifer, her mother said.The pair lived together at Jennifer's home on Eastwood from December until they broke up in February, Debbie Stafford said.Stafford said she believed the ex-boyfriend might have borrowed money to move back home.She did not know how much he owed.

Jennifer Stafford was believed to have been about three months pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, Debbie Stafford said.  Jennifer Stafford also leaves behind a 7-year-old son, who lives with his father. Neighbors didn't report seeing or hearing anything suspicious recently.

The home is at the end of a dead-end street in an isolated neighborhood bordered by cornfields to the north.  Jerry Walker said Stafford was quiet and once returned his dog when it got loose."She was a real nice lady," Walker said. Stafford's death is the first homicide inside Muncie city limits since Daiwaun Walton, 15, was killed by a stray bullet in a shootout on South Ebright Street on May 30, 2007.


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