Mormonism, Multi-level Marketing and Murder in Mesa
When Jodi Arias met Travis Alexander in 2006 at a Prepaid Legal Services conference in Las Vegas, there was an instant connection.
Jodi was a gorgeous, 28-year-old, aspiring photographer and Travis a 30-year-old, dedicated Mormon who was a multi-level marketing salesman at the top of his game.
Jodi and Travis fell for each other quickly and despite the fact that the two lived in different states they decided to try and make it work long distance. The relationship thrived with Travis initially believing that he had found ‘the one’.
But what started out as a love-at-first-sight fairytale between two multi-level-marketers, quickly became a dangerous game of manipulation and possession, fuelled by religious-sexual confusion and a mutual addiction to one another, that would later end in with a horrifically brutal murder and a case that captivated the nation.
Less Than Ideal Upbringings
While Jodi has said that she had quite an ideal upbringing, it was later revealed that her parents struggled to come to terms with her attitude as a teenager and her father would often resort to physical forms of punishment. Jodi moved out at the age of seventeen with her gothic-vampire-obsessed boyfriend but was forced to leave him when he physically attacked her. She then floated from one waitressing job to another until she found herself involved in the multi-level marketing legal insurance scheme that led her to Travis.
Travis’s childhood was anything but ideal. His parents were both drug addicts and his brother Steven Alexander has said that they would go for days without proper meals and would have to eat whatever was rotting in the cupboard. Travis even developed a phobia of cockroaches as a result of waking up covered in them as a child.
Thankfully their grandmother, a devout Mormon took them in and raised them when Travis was ten years old. Travis and his brother credited their grandmother for putting them on the ‘right path’ and leading them to Mormonism. Travis grew up to be a dedicated Mormon who even wore a ‘Choose the Right’ ring as a symbol of his abstinence and faith. As an adult, Travis found himself in massive debt, which is when he discovered multi-level marketing and began his career with Prepaid Legal Service.
Cracks Start to Show
Travis and Jodi met regularly at the home of Travis’s closest friends who lived in between the couple. Jodi was so taken by Travis that she decided to convert to Mormonism for him. Much to Travis’s delight he, himself baptised Jodi into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
However, just a few hours after the ceremony, the couple committed their first of many sins against the church by having sexual intercourse.
At first, Travis’s friends were excited that he had found a companion but things started to change early in the relationship when Jodi started to exhibit unusually possessive behaviour including nibbling on Travis’s ear in the middle of a Mormon wedding, straddling him in a spa amongst friends and showing up uninvited to events.
As Travis started to distance himself emotionally from Jodi, while still maintaining a very sexual relationship, Jodi’s behaviour became more erratic.
On multiple occasions, Jodi would travel from California to Travis’s home in Arizona and if he was not home, she would sneak in through the doggy door and surprise him, she even showed up one day wearing a shirt that said ‘Travis Alexander’s’. On one of her unannounced visits/home invasions, Jodi took the opportunity to look through Travis’s Myspace account where she found sexually explicit messages from a married Mormon woman, messages which she later used to blackmail Travis into having a more committed relationship with her.
Travis obliged and the couple began spending even more time together, taking regular road trips together to places that they found in a book titled… “1000 Places to Visit Before You Die”… honestly, if this were a horror film that would be some major foreshadowing.
One of Travis’s closest friends Sky Lovingier Hughes grew tired of Jodi’s possessive behaviour and decided it was time to warn Travis. Sky sat him down in her room with the door shut and expressed her concerns, stating that she was worried that one day they were ‘going to find his body in a freezer, chopped up into little pieces’. It was only after Sky made the bold statement that she and Travis realised that Jodi was pressed up against the other side of the door listening in on their conversation.
“She was worried that one day they were going to find his body in a freezer, chopped up into little pieces.”
As Travis began to realise that most of his friends did not like Jodi, he made more of an effort to try and conceal their relationship, ignoring her at Prepaid Legal Service events and not inviting her on group outings. Sensing that Travis was pulling away, Jodi went through his phone and discovered that he had been texting with multiple women. Just four months after making their relationship official, Jodi and Travis mutually decided to end the relationship, concluding that Travis was not ready for a girlfriend.
Things Start to Get…Weird
After the breakup, Travis started a new relationship with a Mormon woman named Lisa. Although he appeared to his friends to be committed to Lisa, Travis was actually still regularly calling Jodi for phone sex and Jodi continued to pay surprise visits to Travis’s home.
On one of her visits, Jodi found Travis and Lisa together on the couch and from that point forward proceeded to try and intimidate Lisa, slashing her tyres, knocking on her door at night, and sending her ‘anonymous’ threatening emails.
A few months after her breakup with Travis, Jodi packed up her life in California and moved states to be closer to him in his hometown of Mesa, Arizona. Jodi spent her days in Mesa working as a waitress and breaking into Travis’s house via the doggy door. On multiple occasions Travis would arrive home to find Jodi fast asleep in his bed and while sometimes his reaction was one of anger, other times he engaged in sexual activities with her. Confused about his sexual feelings towards Jodi, even labelling her as an ‘addiction’ to his friends, Travis broke up with Lisa and took Jodi on a road trip to figure out his feelings.
However, as soon as they returned from the trip, Travis went straight back to Lisa, once again, ending things with Jodi.
Things with Lisa did not work out as Travis had hoped so he moved on to a new woman, Mimi who he invited to a Prepaid Legal Services conference in Salt Lake City. By this stage, Jodi decided that she had had enough of Travis and made the unprecedented move to return to California, much to the delight of Travis and his friends. Back in California, Jodi started to date other men within the Prepaid Legal network, hoping that the news would get back to Travis and make him jealous which seem to work because once again Travis reached out to Jodi for phone sex.
Amidst all of the internal struggles that Travis was facing, regarding his physical relationship with Jodi, he decided to start a blog, Travis Alexander’s Being Better Blog. Travis’s blog was filled with ‘inspirational’ stories and thoughtful posts. Jodi also decided to start a blog called, Something to Talk About, where she recycled Travis’s posts in her own words.
Travis’s final blog post before his death was about how he wanted to marry a ‘Gold Digger’, not in the Kanye sense but in the, I want a woman to ‘dig for the gold in my heart’ kind of way.
After reading the blog post, an angry Jodi informed Travis that she had a recording of one of their phone sex conversations and that she was going to leak it. Travis called Jodi an evil sociopath and tried to cut contact with her.
By this stage, Jodi had started seeing another member of the Prepaid Legal Services network from Utah named Ryan Burns, she also stopped talking to everyone about Travis, something that had previously been her favourite topic.
Things started to get serious when Jodi staged a fake robbery, taking $30 cash, a DVD player and her grandfather’s gun. In the days leading up to Travis’s death, she then visited an ex-boyfriend and borrowed two gas cans for an upcoming road trip to Utah, telling him that she liked to buy petrol in California because it was cheaper.
Jodi then made three calls to Travis before calling her new love interest, Ryan to confirm their plans to meet in Salt Lake City at a Prepaid Legal Services conference. Instead of driving to Salt Lake City, Jodi drove in the opposite direction to Mesa, Arizona, turning off her phone along the way to avoid placing herself near the scene of the crime.
Murder in Mesa
Jodi arrived at Travis’s house at a time unknown to police and spent the afternoon having sex with him. The ex’s final saucy activities were documented on Travis’s digital camera, right up until his final moments in the shower. The last photo of Travis before he died was one of him sitting on the shower floor with a look on his face that can only be described as pure despair.
We can only speculate what Travis was looking at in those final moments, but given what happened next it could have only been something sinister as Jodi took a knife and stabbed Travis almost 30 times, once she was finished, she took the knife and sliced his throat from ear to ear before finally shooting him in the head with her grandfather’s gun.
After brutally murdering Travis, and leaving his body in the shower, where it lay undiscovered for five days, Jodi cleaned some blood up with a towel, threw it in the washing machine along with the digital camera and a bit of bleach, before driving up to Salt Lake City to meet Ryan, 24 hours late.
On the way to Salt Lake City, once she was out of Arizona, Jodi left an eerily calm voicemail on Travis’s phone, inviting him to see Shakespeare in The Park.
Jodi’s name came up constantly throughout the police investigation, with almost every friend and associate of Travis’s suggesting that it was Jodi who had killed him. Jodi changed her story a number of times at different stages of questioning.
She went from claiming that she was nowhere near Mesa at the time of the attack, stating that she was 24 hours late to meet Ryan in Salt Lake City because she got really lost, to, yes she was there at the time Travis died but that he had been murdered in a home invasion that she had managed to heroically escape from.
The evidence quickly mounted against Jodi when the police matched a bloody handprint at the scene to hers and recovered the photos of her on the digital camera that she had attempted to destroy. When Jodi was in police custody, she appeared to have completely snapped, doing handstands, giggling and singing Christmas carols.
When she was finally arrested, Jodi asked the police if she could ‘freshen up’ for her mugshot.
The Trial That Captivated The Nation
By the time the trial finally started, in 2013, over 4 years after Travis Alexander’s death, Jodi changed her story again, this time admitting to killing Travis but in self-defence. Throughout the trial, Jodi claimed that Travis was abusive and dabbled in child porn. She even went as far as having fake letters sent to her lawyer supposedly written by Travis, in which he admitted to being a paedophile.
However, the letters were dismissed when it was discovered that Jodi had orchestrated the whole thing from within her cell. She had sent a series of secret messages hidden in magazines to her male fans on the outside instructing them to forge the letters.
The court case captured the interest of the nation with its bizarre twists and turns, the defendant who took the stand for 18 days, and hours upon hours of sexually explicit phone recordings. Five months later Jodi was found guilty, but the sentencing phase ended with a hung jury, unable to agree on whether or not Jodi deserved the death penalty. In 2014 she faced a sentencing retrial and one year later, after another deadlocked jury, Judge Stephens declared a mistrial and sentenced Jodi Arias to life in prison without parole.
Where is Jodi Arias Now
In 2019, Jodi appealed her conviction, claiming that the media had interfered with her getting a fair trial, but the appeal was overturned.
To this day the case continues to attract media attention with numerous podcasts dedicated to the subject. Jodi remains behind bars at an Arizona State prison complex where it is said that she is not very popular amongst inmates, due to the fact that she flirts with the guards.