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Jessica McCord: The Queen of Bitter Evil Ex Wives

Updated on February 5, 2017
Kim Bryan profile image

Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

They couldn’t have been more opposites when they met in high school in 1989. Alan Bates was active in school activities and was considered popular by his peers. Jessica, on the other hand, was considered a “Goth” and, even in a group of kids known for their antisocial natures, not completely accepted by her peers.

The strangle coupling made for great gossip when Jessica and Alan began dating. When Jessica became pregnant, the rumors began to fly. They were young but Alan was determined to do the right thing and he and Jessica wed in a quick, secret ceremony.

The Bateses wouldn’t be the first teenage couple to marry under such circumstances, nor would they be the last and just like those who had been in there shoes, life as teenage newlyweds wasn't easy. For a while, Alan and Jessica seemed to take it in stride; yet, there were times when Jessica had an over-inflated sense of self-worth and Alan could never seem to do anything right. Working to support his family and still trying to earn his college degree, Alan grew tired of Jessica’s ever increasing demands and unreasonable expectations. All he wanted was peace and a little patience from his wife.

By now, the couple had two daughters and they were both quite aware they were staying together only because of the children. Alan loved his girls more than he hated his marriage, so he tried to tough it out. Jessica, alternatively, continued her foot stomping, princess act but added a helping of extramarital affairs to the mix.

Jessica's infidelity was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. By 1994, Alan had decided it was time to toss in the towel.

And The Battle Begins

Domestic princesses are notorious for wanting their cake and to eat it too. Jessica was none too happy when Alan filed for divorce, but realizing her soon-to-be ex-husband wasn’t going to insist on custody of the girls and was willing to pay child support, she softened up and things between the couple became amicable.

Any good post-divorce relations they had achieved, however, disappeared when Alan began dating again. Her name was Terra Klugh. Terra was the complete opposite of the woman in Alan’s life of the past few years. She was even tempered, exhibited class and finesse, and, best of all, she seemed to truly care about his girls.

Terra & Alan Bates
Terra & Alan Bates | Source

Jessica Bates was jealous of Terra and hated the idea of her girls having a stepmother. When Alan and Terra wed in June 2000, you could almost hear Jessica saying, "Oh hell no!” Not to be outdone, in the same month, Jessica married Jeff McCord, a sheriff’s deputy she met through her job as a Birmingham Police dispatcher.

The battle began with Jessica making excuses to shorten Alan’s visitation and placing restrictions on what he could do or who he could be around during his time with the girls. Although at first Alan tried to somewhat oblige her demands for the sake of the children, he finally took the matter to family Court. There Jessica got a quick lesson in post-divorce control; that is, you have none.

The Court Orders meant nothing to Jessica and soon she was outright refusing Alan parenting time with his girls, usually by not being home at his scheduled time to pick them up. Other times she moved and wouldn’t give Alan the address or she hid their daughters at her mother’s house.

Again, Alan took the matter before a Judge. Again Jessica was lectured and threatened not to interfere with Alan’s custody time. Again Jessica didn't care.

Over and over again Jessica ignored the Judge’s warnings. Multiple times Alan sought the help of the family court system. He shelled out a lot of money time and again for Jessica to get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Eventually Jessica stopped attending hearings altogether.

The judge could no longer ignore her contemptuous actions. A bench warrant was issues for Contempt of Court and Jessica was arrested In December 2001. She was ordered to serve ten days in jail for contempt.

When he and Jessica had divorced, Alan had believed, despite their tumultuous marriage, Jessica was a good mother to the girls. At the time, he had been working full time while going to school and didn't believe he could be the parent his daughters needed. He had truly felt Jessica was better suited as the custodial parent. Yet in the years since the divorce, watching her use the children as pawns in a bitter game rooted in jealousy and seeing the effects of such on his children and his relationship with them, Alan decided it was time to right the wrong.

Alan filed for custody.

When All Else Fails, Try Murder

Jessica McCord wasn’t stupid, she sensed what was coming. She realized she’d pushed the Court as far as she could and her mommy-card was expired. Jessica could not - would not - allow Terra to raise her daughters; and frankly, she needed that child support. Jessica had lost her job as a dispatcher and she and Jeff had a mountain of debt.

While serving her ten days for contempt, Jessica read a murder mystery. It was from that Jessica began forming a plan in her mind which would ensure she would never lose custody.

Alan was coming to Birmingham to participate in depositions pertaining to the custody case and he had made arrangements through his attorney to visit with the girls during this time. On February 15, 2002, Alan and Terra flew into Birmingham International Airport from their Maryland home and rented a car. The couple was anxious to reach the McCords because, once they picked up the girls, the family was going to visit Alan’s parents in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jessica & Jeff McCord
Jessica & Jeff McCord | Source

Alan and Tera walked to the McCords' front door and there a posted sign read, “Come to the back. We’re having trouble with the front door.” Around back, Jessica greeted them, invited them into the family room, and offered them a seat on the leather couch. Under the guise of getting the girls, Jessica exited the room.

As they waited, they exchanged small talk among themselves - undoubtedly weary by Jessica’s seemingly cordial demeanor, Jeff suddenly entered the room and fired four shots into each of their bodies. It happened so quickly that there was no time for the couple to try and defend themselves.

Like a black widow spider, Jessica had lured Alan and Terra into her “web," then without any thought to how it would emotionally hurt her daughters or the couple's families, Jessica had watched as her husband coldly murdered her ex and his new wife.

Fortunately, the Bates girls weren’t at their mother’s home to witness the murder of the father and stepmother. Jessica had never intended to let them visit with their father in the first place and had arranged for them to stay with their maternal grandmother. The house was empty except for she and Jeff, and they immediately went to work with the second and final part of the plan.

First, they loaded Alan and Terra’s bodies into the truck of the rental car and drove it to a remote area just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Leaving the car in a field, they set it on fire, believing it would destroy any evidence. Returning to their Birmingham home, Jeff and Jessica began cleaning the crime scene. They stripped the blood-soaked leather from the couch frame, they replaced floor tiles, and wiped away blood splatters.

They thought they had committed the perfect murder.

They were idiots.

Discovery

When Alan and Jessica didn’t arrive in Atlanta at the expected time, his parents weren’t too concerned; after all, Atlanta traffic can be a nightmare but when their calls to the couples’ cell phones went unanswered as well as attempts to reach them at their Maryland home, the elder Bateses began to fear the worst. Philip Bates began phoning the police agencies and hospitals inquiring about any accidents or admissions that could be his son and daughter-in-law, to no avail.

During the early morning hours of February 16, 2002, a Georgia farmer called 911 to report what he believed was a forest fire. When firemen and police arrived, they found a burning car instead of a forest fire. The theory the car had probably been stolen in Atlanta and taken for a joy ride became much more serious when they discovered the charred remains of two human bodies in the trunk.

The car fire had reached such high temperatures the license plate had melted off the car. However, it was intact enough for police to trace it and learn it belonged to a Mavis Car Rental in Birmingham, Alabama. After that, it wasn’t much of a stretch for Jessica to become the prime suspect in the murder of the couple in trunk now identified as Alan and Terra Bates.

Police immediately interviewed Jeff at work. He didn’t seem to be concerned about the Bateses death or that he was being questioned about it. He told officers that Alan and his wife had never showed up to pick up the girls. He continued by saying he and Jessica had carried on with their belated Valentine’s Day plans after taking the girls to Jessica’s mother. He even produced two ticket stubs to a showing of Lord of the Rings.

When police spoke with Jessica at her mother’s home, she gave the same exact story; adding that she had called Alan’s cell phone once and left a message inquiring about where he was. Jessica said Alan never returned the call.

Investigator’s weren’t buying the couples’ story and obtained a search warrant for the McCord home. When they arrived at the house on February 17, 2002, no one was home so they forced their way in. What they found was shocking.

It appeared someone had attempted to quickly “remodel” the family room. Police officers observed the new floor tiles. New wallpaper covered the walls, but it had clearly been done in a rush as it wasn’t even near being properly aligned. And when they removed it, there was an obvious bullet hole in the drywall. Then they discovered a small amount of blood on the glass coffee table.

Investigators knew they had discovered the crime scene. Using evidence found in the McCord home, police secured warrants for Jeff and Jessica.

Justice At Last

Although the case was mostly circumstantial, centered around Jessica and Alan’s bitter custody war, prosecutors believed the case was airtight. They were unwilling to talk about any plea deals with Jessica, but Jeff was another story.

Jeff McCord may not have been smart enough to tell his wife no when it came to murder, but he was smart enough to know he was going to prison and knew testifying against Jessica would get him labeled a snitch. He knew all too well what happened to snitches in prison.

At her trial, Jessica took the stand and tried to convince the jury she was actually the victim; the victim of Alan and Terra. She told of how Alan was trying to take the girls way from her. She cried as she told how Alan was not the nice guy he portrayed himself to be in public and she’d frequently be subjected to his “dark side.”

The jury didn't buy the lies she was peddling. On February 15, 2003, a year to the day that Alan and Terra were murdered, a jury found Jessica guilty of two counts of first degree murder

During the sentencing phase testimony, Jessica never apologized, instead choosing to still proclaim her innocence. Her testimony focused mainly on her children, which many believe being a mother ultimately saved her life as the jury opted for a sentence of life without parole.

Jeff McCord, the gunman in the murders of Alan and Terra Bates, was also found guilty and received life in prison but will be eligible for parole after serving only 25 years.

Karma

Jessica was insistent on controlling Alan following their divorce, using the children like pawns but when she could no longer pull Alan’s strings and make him dance to her tune, she resorted to murder. Now Jessica McCord spends her days in an Alabama prison. Every single aspect of her life, from when she eats to when she sleeps, is controlled by others.

And in the end, Jessica lost the daughters in whom's names she had murdered.

Book About Jessica McCord

In 2013, veteran true crime author M. William Phelps published a book about Jessica McCord titled Death Trap. It is an excellent, although outraging at times, read about a child custody battle that ended in murder.

© 2016 Kim Bryan

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    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      You just can't imagine that people exist with absolute no feeling for others. Scary.

    • Kim Bryan profile image
      Author

      Kim Bryan 6 months ago

      Deal! lol

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      OK...How about I bring him a homemade cot that I'll lovingly put together expressly for him and I'll bring along my 4 sons, all built like refrigerators to provide some special "therapy" for the sweet man. No problem, we got it covered! :)

      Were you trying to tell me Jeff was a pu**y-whipped moron? Yeah, agreed, but he gets no sympathy from me. Balls are not meant to be nondetachable...

    • Kim Bryan profile image
      Author

      Kim Bryan 6 months ago

      I have the impression Jeff wasn't very, shall we say, bright and dominated by women in the past. I supposed that lets me put him a little lower him on my "rot list" than yours. haha

      Should he get out? Nah, but I do think he deserves a cot and some therapy.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      If I read your hub correctly (& I'm certain I did) JEFF committed the actual murders~Double First Degree Homicide~pulled the trigger ~ as in Bang bang bang bang per victim. This is well beyond "a responsible party.! Yet, he has possible parole awaiting him! I'll say it again. The bastard needs to rot behind bars on a cold, filthy cement floor, after some psychotic inmate chooses to beat the friggan piss out of him......

      I missed my calling as a wicked warden. I have zero tolerance for lethal criminals. AND HE WAS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT?? What a world!

    • Kim Bryan profile image
      Author

      Kim Bryan 6 months ago

      @Sandy, Alan is responsible how? Because he refused to no longer take Jessica's bullying? He was a father who consistently paid child support and desiring a relationship with his children, spent every moment with them he could?

      I guess Tera is responsible for her murder as well. You know, because she was an wicked stepmother and all that, encouraging the relationship between her husband and his daughters. /s

      @fpherj48, yep, that's about as ludicrous as it gets. I can reason why someone wants to reinforce the point Jeff is a responsible party in this tragic case, but to blame the victim? I can't fathom it!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 6 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Kim....."Jeff is also responsible".....?????? OMG, most CERTAINLY Jeff was responsible!! Is that suppose to be some earth-shattering statement? Like every single human being with a brain would not KNOW this unequivocally a fact?? Did I miss an entire huge section of this story?? Jeff pulled the friggan trigger 4 times each for the victims! A law enforcement officer allows some nasty, envious, greedy bitch to convince him to kill these 2 innocent people in COLD BLOOD?? That couple is total evil & insanity in the flesh. NEITHER should ever see the light of day!

      Allen is responsible??? Kim, as you know, I have read 90% of your work.....never saw such ludicrous comments! How the HELL was Allen responsible for his & his wife's brutal murders? The man was clearly a VICTIM. The man was guilty of nothing but loving his daughters & bending over backwards for what was best for them by catering to their lunatic, jealousy-fueled mother!!

      I refuse to let that comment about Allen stand! (of course I see it was left by a visitor/guest)

      Jesus, 2 innocent young people DEAD, 2 little girls left orphans.......Jessica & Jeff need to ROT in HELL.

    • Kim Bryan profile image
      Author

      Kim Bryan 6 months ago

      I agree, Sandy. However, we believe most everyone would agree if not having married Jessica, Jeff would have never found himself in that position.

    • profile image

      S Ray 6 months ago

      In this case Allen is also responsible.

    • profile image

      Sandy ray 6 months ago

      In this unfortunate event Jeff is also responsible.