Jessica Nelson, a working single mother of one, was found strangled to death in her Debolt, Nebraska home’s bathtub in June 2015. Jessica’s mother, Missy Nelson, discovered her daughter naked in a foetal position, holding a cell phone charging cord, and strangulation ligature marks on her neck.
Authorities tracked down Matthew Kidder using DNA evidence gathered at the crime scene and phone records. Kidder was Jessica’s longtime friend as well as a close friend of the Nelson family. In 2016, he was convicted of first-degree murder and felony use of a deadly weapon.
This article contains explicit references to murder and s*xual abuse. Readers should exercise caution
In an episode titled Evil Intent, Dateline: Secrets Uncovered will revisit Jessica Nelson’s brutal murder. The episode will air again on Oxygen on February 8, 2023, at 7 p.m. ET.
According to the synopsis:
“Jessica Nelson is a hardworking single mother; one morning, she was discovered dead in her home; the discovery left her family shattered, and their ordeal had only just begun; turns out, the killer was someone they knew.”
Jessica Nelson’s body was discovered partially submerged in a bathtub in a foetal position
Missy Nelson, Jessica Nelson’s mother, received a worried call on June 25, 2015, informing her that her daughter had failed to show up for work. Missy dialled her 28-year-old daughter, who did not answer the phone.
Missy went to her daughter’s house, concerned, and noticed her car in the driveway. Jessica lived with her six-year-old son Dom, who had been visiting his father the night before. Jessica was left alone in her Debolt, Nebraska home.
When Missy arrived at her daughter’s house, she discovered the front door was locked and used her keys to unlock it. She heard the sound of water coming from the bathroom and went to investigate, where she discovered her daughter dead and called the police. During the call, she was heard saying that Jessica appeared to have slipped in the shower, but Missy had no idea how it happened.
Jessica’s naked body was partially submerged in the bathtub, foetal position, clutching a cell phone charging cord in one hand. Her head was splattered with blood, and a ligature mark was visible on her neck. Her clothes were close to her feet.
Authorities arrived and determined the crime scene to be a homicide despite the lack of evidence of a break-in. All items discovered near the body were collected for further examination. Other items in the house were swabbed for DNA evidence, including samples from the victim’s fingernails and the phone cable.
Matthew Kidder, a family friend, strangled Jessica Nelson and sexually assaulted her
An autopsy later revealed haemorrhaging in Jessica Nelson’s eyes, as well as bruising and abrasions on her neck. They also discovered a ligature mark on her neck that corresponded to the cell phone cable, confirming that she was strangled to death. In addition, bruises and a cut in her v*ginal area, as well as contusions to her head, stomach, and colon, indicated that she had been sexually assaulted.
Phone records and DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene placed Matthew Kidder at the scene. Despite maintaining his innocence, a jury found him guilty after reviewing evidence found on his computer and text messages he exchanged with the victim.
One of Kidder’s cellmates testified at his trial, claiming that Kidder confessed to him about the crime and revealed specific information from the scene that was not made public. In 2016, Kidder was sentenced to life in prison with an additional 20 years.
On Dateline: Secrets Uncovered on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, you can learn more about the case.