The Gut-Wrenching Story Of Debra Jeter, The Texas Woman Who Slit Her Own Daughters’ Throats

Published July 25, 2023
Updated July 26, 2023

Debra Jeter picked up her daughters on June 5, 2009, and drove them to an abandoned house. After brutally attacking them, she called 911 with a chilling admission: “I just killed my children.”

Debra Jeter

Hill County Sheriff’s OfficeDebra Jeter attacked her daughters with a knife in an abandoned house in rural Texas.

On June 5, 2009, Debra Jeter saw her daughters Kiersten and Kelsey for the first time in 15 days. Jeter had been in a mental institution, and her husband had been granted temporary custody of the girls and filed a temporary restraining order against her. However, upon her release, the order was removed. It was the first unsupervised visit Jeter was allowed to have with her daughters.

But rather than this being a happy occasion, it quickly took a dark turn. She drove her daughters to an abandoned house in rural Texas and attacked each of them with a knife, slitting their throats. Even more shockingly, it was Debra herself who called 911 to report the incident.

Kelsey died almost immediately, but authorities arrived in time to arrest Jeter and save Kiersten, rushing her to the hospital where she underwent life-saving surgery.

But in the aftermath, one question lingered: What could compel a woman to attack her two young daughters so viciously?

The Troubled Home Life Of The Jeter Family

The exact details of Debra Janelle Jeter’s life are relatively unknown to the public. Before the attack on her daughters, she was an altogether average woman, born in the late 1970s, who eventually met her husband, Lester “Lee” Jeter. She had two daughters with him: Kiersten and Kelsey.

Unfortunately, all was not well in the Jeter household. By 2009, the relationship had fallen apart, and Lester filed for divorce. As The Sun reported, Debra had allegedly spent some time in a mental institution in 2004 after abusing her daughter Kiersten, though those charges were later dropped.

Lee Jeter And His Daughters

MurderpediaLee Jeter with his daughters, Kelsey (left) and Kiersten.

Between 2004 and 2009, the Jeters’ relationship deteriorated, and Debra’s mental health seemed to suffer alongside it. Shortly after Lester filed for divorce, in May of 2009, Debra attempted suicide in front of their daughters. She was then admitted to a mental health facility for treatment. During that time, Lester was given temporary custody over Kiersten and Kelsey. Lester also took out a temporary restraining order against Debra.

Once Debra was released, however, a judge waived both the restraining order and the necessity for Debra’s visits with her daughters to be supervised. So it was that after a 15-day separation from her daughters, Debra told them that she had a surprise in store for them and drove them to an abandoned house in rural Texas.

“I Just Killed My Children”: The Chilling 911 Call

According to various reports archived via Murderpedia, 12-year-old Kelsey had written on her Facebook page the day before: “I get to see my mom tomorrow! Yay!” But that day, June 5, 2009, would be no happy reunion.

In the bathroom of an abandoned ranch house in rural Hill County, Texas, Jeter brandished a knife and attacked 13-year-old Kiersten first. As her mother slashed at her, Kiersten yelled for her sister to run. Jeter dropped Kiersten and chased after Kelsey, quickly catching her and then slicing her throat. She died almost immediately.

Then, just after 9 p.m., three hours since she’d picked them up, Debra Jeter called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I just killed my children.” Throughout the call, Jeter displayed an almost complete indifference to Kiersten’s wellbeing, stating that while her daughter was bleeding out, she was “in the house walking around” and expressing frustration with the dispatcher, saying things like, “Get an ambulance out here to save the one that didn’t die. C’mon, hurry up,” and, “Bitch, call them! Have you already called them?”

At one point during the call, Kiersten can be heard saying something inaudibly in the background. Jeter addresses her daughter, telling her to “hold on.”

“She’s asking to be saved and I couldn’t handle that and so now…” Jeter, the nursing student, said. “It’s been a long time. She might already die because she’s bled out a lot and — hold on, what baby? What did you say? I’m on the phone with 911. She said, ‘Please hurry.'”

When police arrived, Jeter met them in the driveway outside the house. She had put the knife down and surrendered. Police went inside to find Kelsey dead and Kiersten barely clinging to life.

She was airlifted to a hospital in Dallas and underwent life-saving surgery.

Why Did Debra Jeter Attack Her Daughters?

Debra Jeter had admitted to the attack and murder, but the one thing police were missing was a motive. What had compelled this woman to try and kill her own children when she had finally been granted permission to see them?

Debra Jeter And Her Daughters

MurderpediaDebra Jeter holding her daughters when they were infants.

During her sentencing, Jeter pleaded guilty to the charges brought against her and explained that her actions resulted from her recent divorce. She had reportedly been unable to cope with the shattering of her family. After her suicide attempt failed, she took an even more drastic approach.

Debra Jeter accepted a plea deal to spare herself the possibility of the death sentence. Instead, she was sentenced to life without parole. She was 33 at the time.

Nearly a year after the attack, Lester Jeter and Kiersten met with Debra in prison. He later recalled that Debra had told him that she still hated him, but that she was sorry for what she had done. She explained to him that she was distraught over their separation and subsequent custody battle.

“She figured if she felt that way, then we must all feel that way,” he said, “and she wanted to take away all of our pain.”

After reading about this tragic murder, read the story of Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who drowned her kids to save them from the devil. Then, read the story of Louise Turpin, the woman who kept her 13 children captive for years.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Matt Crabtree
Matt Crabtree is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. A writer and editor based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Utah State University and a passion for idiosyncratic news and stories that offer unique perspectives on the world, film, politics, and more.
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Harvey, Austin. "The Gut-Wrenching Story Of Debra Jeter, The Texas Woman Who Slit Her Own Daughters’ Throats.", July 25, 2023, Accessed June 25, 2024.