by Cindy Sanders
|I met Jeffrey Hatfield while visiting a boyfriend (Danny Bennett) in
Columbus, Ohio, in January 1990. I was 18 years old, graduated from high
school six months early, and an only child (daddy's girl). I had lost my
father five months earlier, and was looking for love in all the wrong places,
actually any old place. While visiting Danny Bennett in Columbus, he was
arrested for a DWI warrant. That left me to look for other love which ultimately
came to be Jeffrey Hatfield who was supposed to be Danny's friend.
I traveled back and forth to Columbus from Maumee several times during the next two ½ weeks visiting Jeff. I thought I had fallen in love with him so I asked him to move to the Maumee-Toledo area with me. I had the resources to get us an apartment and I already had a job working for the State of Ohio (Northwest Ohio Developmental Center). He accepted and I began making arrangements for the move.
It was at that time I found out that he had a daughter, I didn't find out that he was married until after my arrest. There were visits to his friends to say good-byes, and once his friend John Wolfe and my friend Amber Whitney accompanied us and we stayed over at my mom's house. I also acquired a loan for moving expenses, secured an apartment, phone, etc., and maintained my car payment. All of that demonstrates that I had the means to support myself financially and had no need to rob anyone; I also had my Mom who had received money after my Dad's death and would have helped me with anything I may have needed.
There are statements from John Wolfe that try to implicate me, but upon reading his statement you can see that not only was he coached but also led through questioning. All in all, even being led to try to implicate me, he made no strong case against me because I truly didn't know what Jeff had planned. Other statements show that Jeff had talked about robbing and killing this man for quite some time, and long before he had ever met me. Today I believe that he was able to conveniently use me to accomplish a crime that he would have committed whether or not he had met me.
On February 5, 1990, Jeff and I traveled to Columbus for what I thought was to pick up the last of his things and say good-bye to more of his friends, this was to be the last trip because our new life was going to start in Toledo. The trip began with Jeff trying to get the rest of his things from Leslie Dehhart's residence (his wife). From there we visited a friend of his named Bill, and gave his father, William McKinley Terry (also called Bill) a ride to the bar, and visited some more of Jeff's friends not far from that area. On our way back to Toledo, Jeff asked me to stop by and see if William needed a ride home since we had to go back that way. We stopped, and he did want a ride, and so it began.
Jeff had always given me directions on which way to go because I didn't
have any knowledge of the Columbus area. He was in the back seat. We ended
up on a road that had a steep grade to railroad tracks (I think it was
Norton Road) I had to slow down to get over them. Directly after those
tracks, Jeff asked non-directly,
I don't know if I blacked out or was in shock, but I know I was the one driving, because when events became clear again I was still driving and Jeff was sitting in a blood soaked seat. I think I remember seeing Jeff dragging the body, but to this day I can't say for sure. Where I next recall events for certain is me driving and we were on route 20. He was telling me that he would do the same to me, I didn't know what he was capable of, and at the same time he told me he loved me. He scared me terribly and revolted me at the same time, for I had never been associated with anyone capable of anything that horrific.
He had me stop at a convenience store and passed the man's belt and such to a tan car, it was dark and I couldn't make out the people, but I believe there were two in that car. From there Jeff instructed me to drive us back to Toledo, threatening me frequently. He had me try to call my friend Amber, and later tell her I tried to call, so if asked, she would say that I did call. He cleaned the car, to the best of his knowledge. I was a nurse's aid so I knew he could never get the blood out of a car seat.
He told me the "story" to tell if the police ever came, and he continued to threaten me. He also informed me that he had used one of my Dad's guns to commit the crime, which he had obtained from my mother's house while we stayed there, which hurt me to my heart. Unfortunately, I didn't know him well enough to know if he was capable of having someone else hurt me or my mom, I was just scared to death, for I had watched him murder a man in cold blood and show absolutely no remorse.
The police called and asked us to come to Columbus, which we did. Amber came with us and I told them the story that Jeff told me to tell, and they questioned Amber as well. They arrested Jeff that night and I released my car to them to be searched. Lt. Jim Sabin drove Amber and I all the way back to Toledo and cordially bought us refreshments along the way. I voluntarily allowed them to search my apartment. I was never asked anymore questions.
Sometime later, they contacted me and told me I should obtain a lawyer. Never having been in any trouble, I had absolutely no idea who to get. The unlucky pick turned out to be Lorin Zaner and Adrian Zimmerman in Toledo. Thirteen days later Zimmerman drove me to London, Ohio, to supposedly testify against Jeff. I was still very scared, not knowing what he was capable of or who he was connected with, but I was always taught to trust the law and they will help me.
Well, they didn't help me, and after waiting five hours in their municipal building, and even walking around London, I was arrested for aggravated murder. From that point on they never talked to me or questioned me. They scared me to death saying that I was going to be put to death. It was even in the London newspaper: "Sanders Faces Death Penalty," but never questioned me again until my attorneys convinced me to take a plea bargain.
My attorneys had led me and my mother to believe that if I took a plea bargain that I would do six months in prison, and then be out. I've been in prison for 13 years!
views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily
those of the IIAO, however, wrongful conviction and
imprisonment are quite obvious.
©2003 IIAO Inc.