Family wants death penalty for Lakeland woman accused of killing daughter, father

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A judge has denied bond for a Lakeland woman charged with killing her father and 6-year-old daughter.

A Polk County judge said Monday that Cheyanne Jessie, 25, will remain in jail on charges that include two counts of first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence.

Detectives said Jessie killed her daughter, Meredith Jessie, and her father, Mark Weekly, 50, on July 18. Officials said she hid the bodies in a shed owned by Weekly's landlord.

Weekly's brothers cried and hugged one another after the judge denied bond for Cheyanne Jessie.


Raw: Victims' family gets emotional after  hearing

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Family members who spoke with Channel 9 on Wednesday said they hope Jessie gets the death penalty.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Jessie got into an argument with Weekly about her new boyfriend at Weekly’s home, on Drane Field Road in Lakeland.

"She was frustrated with the child and as a result, she didn't want the child to mess up the relationship she had with the boyfriend," Judd said.

Family members said Meredith was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was recently put on medication.

"She was your friend one minute, and the next minute she could snap. But bipolarism is no excuse for murder," said Weekly's sister-in-law, Janice Weekly.

Investigators said Jessie’s story changed several times after she reported the two missing. She first told authorities that the two were in Georgia, then claimed that she killed them in self-defense, deputies said.

"She supposedly gets the knife from her father after the father is fighting and slashing at her with the knife and accidentally stabs the 6-year-old. None of the evidence supports this," Judd said.

Detectives said Jessie had no injuries to suggest that she had struggled with her father.

"He really cared for his granddaughter," said Mark Weekly's brother, Mike Weekly. "I don't believe he would ever hurt her. It's terrible that this had to happen."

"I have no idea why anyone would do anything like that, even their 6-year old daughter," said Mark Weekly's niece, Crystal Stahl. "I mean, it's just a disgusting thing anyone could do to any child or even their father."

"She had planned this.  She had the furniture covered, is what we heard," said Mark Weekly's sister-in-law, Gaye Weekly. "I want her to have to pay for it. I mean, I don't want her getting off with a lawyer putting her in a mental institution, because this is premeditated. Mental illness you don't plan out something, you just act.  She planned this out."

Deputies serving a search warrant said they found bloodstained floors and furniture with slash marks.

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Judd said the house reeked of a foul odor, and Jessie claimed that there had been a dead raccoon under her porch.

"Nothing is more horrific than the murder of a child, except when it’s done by a parent," Judd said.

Judd said a gun and a knife were used in the killings, but they are waiting for the results of autopsies to determine how Mark Weekly and Meredith died.

"This is the face and (these are) the eyes of a cold-blooded murderer that not only murdered them on the 18th of July, but left them in the residence for many days," Judd said.

A friend of Mark Weekly’s said Weekly helped take care of Jessie's daughter.

"He would rather you take his life than mess with that baby," Fred Poore Jr. said.