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Iowa College Student Accused In Triple Murder Of Family Says He's A Victim, Blames A 'Phantom Burglar'

“This was a horrendous murder,” Assistant Linn County Attorney Ryan Decker said during Alexander Jackson’s first court appearance this week.

By Dorian Geiger
Alexander Jackson Pd

An Iowa college student accused of shooting his parents and younger sister to death this week claims he’s innocent and that a masked intruder is behind the family massacre.

Alexander Ken Jackson, 20, was accused of gunning down his father, Jan Jackson, 61, mother, Melissa Jackson, 68, and 19-year-old sister, Sabrina Jackson, on Tuesday, according to law enforcement. 

Police responded to a home in the 4400 block of Oak Leaf Court in Cedar Rapids after reports of a possible shooting around 8:30 a.m. The bodies of all three family members were found inside the residence. Alexander Jackson, who had a gunshot wound in his foot, was rushed to hospital. He was later arrested on first-degree murder charges, police said. 

Jackson denied killing his family and insisted he’d been shot in the foot by a "masked man," following a struggle over a rifle, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com

Jackson told investigators he’d awoken to the sound of gunfire that morning. The suspected murder weapon, a 22-caliber Browning semi-automatic rifle, was located by detectives at the property. He told authorities his father had set the firearm on the family fireplace the evening before the shooting. 

Jackson, however, also confessed his father had told him to “find a job or move out of the residence,” before the shooting, the criminal complaint stated.

There were no signs of forced entry at the house, according to officials. 

Prosecutors flatly rebuked the young man's version of events during his initial court appearance on Wednesday.

“This was a horrendous murder,” Assistant Linn County Attorney Ryan Decker said in court, according to Cedar Rapids daily newspaper, The Gazette. “This was more than just a murder — it was an execution of the defendant’s mother, father and sister. Furthermore, the defendant’s concocted story of a phantom burglar shows the defendant acted out of malice and calculated intent to get away with these murders.”

Neighbors said the family moved into the area approximately a decade ago.

“I was just talking to Melissa maybe four or five days ago,” Ashok Parikh told the Gazette, adding that the Jacksons are originally from Oregon.

Sabrina Jackson was a 2020 graduate of Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, KCRG-TV reported; her brother also reportedly attended the school. According to loved ones, she enjoyed writing, playing in the band, and was a member of a student Democratic organization. She also was once chosen to introduce former presidential candidate Andrew Yang at an event on climate change. 

School officials declined to comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Thursday.

Both Alexander and Sabrina Jackson were enrolled at the University of Iowa in the spring semester.

“Our thoughts are with all those impacted by this tragic situation,” Anne Bassett, director of media relations at the University of Iowa told Oxygen.com. “The university is offering support to students, faculty, and staff, as needed.” 

The case is the first triple murder in Cedar Rapids in nearly four decades, police said. The last recorded triple homicide there was in 1982 when two men carried out the fatal stabbing of three family members, including two children. 

Jackson was booked into a Linn County detention center on June 15, according to online jail records. Sixth Judicial District Judge Casey Jones set his bond at $3 million cash. He doesn’t appear to have a criminal history. He requested a public defender.

"We believe in our client's innocence and will be pleading him not guilty when formal charges are filed," Assistant State Public Defender Lindsay C. Garner told Oxygen.com.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for June 25.

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