Editor’s note: Betty Wells is the grieving mother of Teri Lynn Peitz, the 37-year-old woman who was shot in the head inside her Palmdale home 20 years ago today (Aug. 12).
Local postal carrier Jeffrey “Jeff” Peitz was tried three times for his wife’s murder, but the trials all ended in hung juries. Still, Betty Wells believes that Jeff is guilty, and she is hoping for a fourth trial.
On the 20th anniversary of her daughter’s death, Betty Wells is reminding the Antelope Valley of this heinous crime in hopes that someone will come forward with information that can force a new trial. Her fight for justice continues. Read her story below…
By 82-year-old Las Vegas resident Betty Wells
My daughter’s name is Teri Peitz. In 1994, she lived at a home on Cottonwood Drive in Palmdale with Jeff, her husband of 19 and a half years, and their teenage daughter, who was nearly 16 years old.
Teri ran a licensed daycare center at the house and she took care of quite a few kids there. To me, she was very lovable.
On Aug. 12, 1994, my daughter was murdered at her home. She called me two hours before she was killed that night, and the last thing she said was, “I love you Momma!” and I said “I love you too!”
My granddaughter was on a date at the time, and Jeff claims he was upstairs folding laundry while Teri was downstairs watching television. Jeff claimed he heard a gunshot and he thought it was on television, and then he looked over the balcony and saw that Teri was shot.
Jeff claimed a black man turned and ran from the house. He even named a black man that lived in the neighborhood. Jeff didn’t know that the man had left that morning to catch a flight back to Lansing, Michigan to see his folks. So Jeff blamed somebody that wasn’t even there.
Jeff didn’t call me until 7 o’ clock the next morning. When I answered the phone, he said “Are you sitting down?” And then he said, “Well, you’d better, because Teri was killed last night.”
I started screaming, and I kept saying “Jeff! Jeff! Talk to me!”
Then he said, “How in the hell can I talk to you when all you’re doing is screaming?” This was my son-in-law, and he wasn’t very considerate.
We found out later that Jeff had a girlfriend and he had been screwing around. I think the police thought it was Jeff all along. I talked at length to both the detectives that were investigating the case.
They waited until the day after Teri’s funeral to arrest Jeff. Her funeral was down in Riverside, and the next day, they had a service at the church that she went to in Palmdale. Jeff was arrested at that service, it was on a Sunday.
The murder trial wasn’t held in Palmdale, because that was just after the earthquake and the courthouse was damaged. The trial was held in Van Nuys. They had three different trials over the course of a year, and they all ended in hung juries.
My husband and I lived in Riverside at the time, and we’d go to the court on Monday, stay at the Holiday Inn all week, and then go back to Riverside on Friday to stay the weekend. We did that every day of trial, for all three trials.
After the third trial, I guess the judge decided that since they had spent so much money having the three trials, they wouldn’t seek a fourth trial without new evidence. They never found the gun, but Jeff was a gun nut and he had a bunch of guns.
After a year of trials, Jeff got out of jail. Instead of saying he was going to look for my daughter’s killer, he was overheard saying he wanted some enchiladas.
Jeff still lives in California today. I have not had any contact with him or my granddaughter since the trials.
After the trials, I kept getting calls, and when I’d pick up the phone, they’d hang up. That was 20 years ago, before we had caller ID.
I truly believe that Jeff killed my daughter. I would like to see him tried again and found guilty. We were told that if any new information should come up, we could have another trial, since there is no statute of limitation on murder.
Jeff has had a miserable life since Teri’s death. He was in jail all year during the trials. Then he spent another five years in jail and lost his job at the post office for making bomb threats at the post office.
He got stabbed by someone who was trying to steal his car out of the driveway. Why he didn’t have his gun on him, I don’t know, but he got stabbed.
He hit a woman in a crosswalk and the woman died. But it was dark, and the woman had dark clothes on, so he got away with that too.
So he hasn’t had a happy life, and I believe it is coming back around to him for what he did to my daughter.
I do not believe that Jeff will ever confess to killing my daughter. He will never come forward and say, ‘yeah, I did it’.
I would like anyone who might have any information, no matter how small, to come forward. If they can remember back that far, and the information can lead to new evidence, then maybe we could have another trial.
I would like justice for my daughter while I am still here. I will never give up. I will never forget.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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