The Messed Up Truth About Jodi Arias

There are crimes that catch the public's attention because they're bloody. There are evil deeds that live in infamy because their details are so sordid. There are murders that go down in history because the murderer seems so interesting. There are even criminal cases that become hot topics because the media goes overboard and decides to force-feed them down the public's throat. And then there's the murder of Travis Alexander, which was all of these things and more. 

In some other reality, this bloody 2008 murder might have ended up as little more than a footnote in the history of violent crimes. However, a number of events conspired to make a very big deal out of it, and as a result, the case became one of the biggest media frenzies caused by a non-celebrity crime. A large part of this was the culprit. A photogenic and publicity-minded woman, Jodi Arias wasn't afraid to open up about the case, and as such, she became quite famous in her own right — while the justice system was pondering the horrific deeds she was accused of. So, what was all this noise about? Let's take a look at the messed up truth about Jodi Arias. 

Fair disclaimer, people: This is going to be pretty grim.

When Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander met

With crimes of passion, things tend to start out fine before they become awful, and this certainly seems to have been the case with Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias. Per the Huffington Post, the pair's romance was very much of the whirlwind variety. Arias and Alexander met by chance during a conference trip to Las Vegas in September 2006, and as ABC News reports, they were immediately joined at the hip. By February next year, they were dating. At that point, Arias had already been baptized as a Mormon, just to belong to the same church as Alexander. Over the course of their relationship, the pair were reportedly in near-constant connection, to the tune of daily phone calls and around 82,000 emails. 

Unfortunately, dark clouds loomed in the horizon. The couple's relationship status didn't take long to switch to "it's complicated," with tragic end results. 

Travis Alexander's friends were worried about Jodi Arias

Travis Alexander might have been happy in his relationship with Jodi Arias at first, but as ABC News tells us, it didn't take long for his friends to start getting a bad feeling about his new girlfriend. Though they initially thought that the pair's relationship was "cute" and that Arias was quite charming, they soon noticed a scary, possessive side to her. "She just had to sit right by him," Alexander's friend Clancy Talbot said. "She didn't appreciate when he was talking to another female. She didn't like the fact that if there was anyone that didn't know that they were together. She wanted to make that clear." Arias was also reportedly eavesdropping on conversations, spying on Alexander's communications with other people, and exhibiting stalker-like traits.

Over time, Alexander's circle of friends started to voice their concerns about Arias to him. Ominously, one friend named Sky Lovingier Hughes even told him: "Travis, I'm afraid we're gonna find you chopped up in her freezer." She was wrong, but not by much. 

Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias break up

As ABC News tells us, Jodi Arias was quite smitten with Travis Alexander. "She was really excited about the relationship," one of Alexander's friends said. "She loved how funny he was, how much fun they would have together. Travis loved to take adventures and do different things." Likewise, Alexander reportedly saw Arias as his future wife ... at least initially. However, the pair faced a number of hurdles. Alexander was based in Arizona, while Arias lived in California. More pressingly, there was the matter of Alexander's religion. As a devout and active Mormon, he started feeling guilty about his premarital relationship with Arias. Meanwhile, he felt that he couldn't take things to the next level, because their physical relationship meant she wasn't pure enough for marriage. 

It didn't take long for Arias to convert to Mormonism, but that ultimately failed to save the relationship. They finally broke up in late June 2007, and according to The Caylee DailyArias herself has stated that the breakup was caused by "trust issues." Though Alexander ended the relationship, Arias was far from done with him. She moved to his hometown of Mesa and continued turning up at — and sometimes in – his house. Per the Huffington Postthe end result of this behavior was that although they weren't a couple anymore, they continued their physical relationship. 

Jodi Arias gets obsessive over Travis Alexander

Jodi Arias was not happy when Travis Alexander broke up with her. According to Steven Chermak and Frankie Y. Bailey's book Crimes of the Centuriesshe (allegedly) became very, very obsessed with him, to the point that she "hacked" his social media and email. ABC News reports that she was also in the habit of randomly turning up at his house after moving into the area. She'd enter his home unannounced through the garage door, and there are reports that she even crawled in through the pet door. 

Things got even stranger when Alexander started a new relationship, and someone started terrorizing his new girlfriend with anonymous threats and by stalking her home and knocking on doors and windows. Alexander's tires were also slashed two times. The man's inner circle suspected that Arias was behind all this, though she denied it. In April 2008, she finally left Mesa and returned to her native California, which seemed to be terrific news for him. "I'm getting, I'm getting my life back," Alexander's friend Sky Lovingier Hughes describes his reaction upon hearing the news. "Like, this is a whole new start. She's gone."    

The murder of Travis Alexander

Everything up to this point had been all sorts of ominous, but things got truly terrifying on June 4, 2008. Per The Caylee Daily, that was the day Travis Alexander was murdered in his own home. The killer had been horrifyingly thorough, as the body had no fewer than 29 stab wounds. Alexander's throat had also been slit, and there was a gunshot wound in his head. Other sources like ABC News talk about "at least 27" wounds, but regardless of the exact number, the scene was still incredibly nasty. Per the Huffington Postthe stab wounds were deep, and the throat wound "nearly decapitated" Alexander. What's worse, the man's death had been far from instant, as he had several defensive wounds. The Huffington Post also mentions a massive amount of blood on the walls, floors, and sink of the bathroom where he died of blood loss. 

Alexander's body was found in the shower of his house several days after the crime, at which point it was too decomposed to determine whether the bullet wound was post-mortem or not. The prime suspect, on the other hand, was significantly easier to determine. It didn't take long for the people who knew Alexander and Arias to figure out who the most likely culprit was. Per KPHO, a co-worker stated that immediately after learning the news, she said: "It's Jodi." The authorities agreed, and Arias was arrested on July 15.

The strange case of Jodi Arias' grandparents' missing gun

As The Caylee Daily notes, Jodi Arias was arrested at her grandparents' home in Yreka, California. Curiously enough, the very same place soon became pretty interesting to the authorities, according to the Chicago Tribune. In May 2008, a number of items had been stolen from the home, and one of them happened to be a .25-caliber gun. Two guesses as to what kind of weapon was used to shoot Travis Alexander.

The handgun used in the murder was never found, and even after Arias confessed to killing Alexander, she claimed that she'd used his own gun against him. Still, the fact that she had access to an extremely similar handgun that had disappeared well before the crime made the prosecution suspect that she'd been planning to kill Alexander well before doing the deed. The fact that she appeared to have been extremely secretive about a trip to Arizona around the time of the murder supported this line of thinking.

Jodi Arias and the 'masked intruders' defense

As CBC reports, the Jodi Arias murder trial was a lengthy one that involved an amazing amount of twists and turns. This stemmed from the racy nature of Alexander and Arias' relationship and correspondence, as well as the gruesomeness of the crime and Arias' willingness to stand in the spotlight. It probably didn't exactly hurt that she kept things fresh by changing her story, either. 

Arias went public with a story about "two masked intruders" who had killed Alexander. She wasn't afraid to recite this horror movie tale in interviews with high-profile programs like Inside Edition, while maintaining her own innocence. She stuck to her guns for no less than two years, though, and as the Huffington Post notes, the story got pretty wild at times. Here's how she detailed her own miraculous escape from one of the supposed killers, who she claimed was pointing a gun at her: "He pulled the trigger. And nothing happened with the gun. And so I just grabbed my purse, which was on the floor at that point, and I ran down the stairs and out of there and I left [Travis] there ... I pushed past him — and his gun. And I just didn't look back."

Jodi Arias' self-defense claims

After Jodi Arias first argued that she had no idea what had happened to Travis Alexander and then moved on to a story where she was with him when two intruders attacked, she introduced a third version of the events (per the Huffington Post). In this version, which she presented in August 2011, Arias had killed Alexander — but it was self-defense, because Alexander had attacked her. 

As the Chicago Tribune reports, this version of the story stated that Alexander flew into a rage after she dropped a camera and, according to CBC, "body-slammed her to the floor." Per Radar Online, Arias also claimed that Alexander had been violent toward her in the past, stating that he had beaten, kicked, and abused her. Arias' younger sister, Angela, backed up this story in social media, while also refuting the previous ones. "[Jodi] was not under oath when she spoke on TV and yes, she lied," Angela Arias wrote. "But, it was because she was so in love with that man she did not want people to know what a monster he really was."

A camera found at the murder scene contained damning images

One of the strangest pieces of evidence in Jodi Arias' trial was the camera that, according to ABC News, was recovered from the murder scene. The investigators found the device in the washing machine, and it was extremely damaged by water. However, this apparent attempt to wash away the evidence proved fruitless when the police were able to recover a number of pictures from its memory card, complete with a June 4, 2008, timestamp.

Not that the timestamp was really needed to deduce that the images were shot on the day of the murder. The memory card contained images of both Arias and Alexander — including ones in which Alexander is seen in the shower, and later, on the bathroom floor bleeding. Arias tried to incorporate the shower images in her story about masked intruders attacking Alexander as she was taking the pictures, but the authorities found this less than plausible. 

Jodi Arias' soap opera trial

How weird was Jodi Arias' trial? As CBC tells us, it was such a massive circus that at one point, seats to the court proceedings were selling for as much as $200, and people were actually camping outside the courthouse in an attempt to make sure they got in. The media embraced Arias soon after the crime came to light, and as such, the sordid details of the murder became extremely popular with the public. Such was the hype around the case that at one point, Arias' detailed diaries were discussed on Good Morning America.

As such, when the trial finally started in January 2013 (per the Huffington Post), everyone was in feeding frenzy mode. The most popular part of the trial was arguably the 18 days Arias herself spent testifying, during which she went through her intimate relationship with the victim in great detail. From peculiar witnesses to recordings of extremely X-rated discussions between Alexander and Arias, the public got the details to their hearts' content, too, as the media went all-out in their coverage, and aspects of the case made the rounds on social media. As a result, even prosecutor Juan Martinez became a bit of a celebrity. 

The Jodi Arias trial had its own TV show

As a prime example of the kind of devotion that the media had to the Jodi Arias case, look no further than HLNAccording to CBC, the network was so interested in the Arias trial that it assigned some of its biggest stars, like Nancy Grace, exclusively to it. They also started a new show called HLN After Dark, which was largely about chewing the facts of the Jodi Arias case in minute detail — complete with fake juries and everything. 

HLN's general manager and executive vice president Scot Safon had an answer ready about the channel's investment in the case. "We knew the characters involved like Jodi and Travis were interesting young people, in love theoretically, and it went dramatically bad," Safon said. "A crime story like this that goes to trial, it's never just about the story itself. You get to know the people involved."

Multiple juries and the final sentence

Jodi Arias' trial may have been a strange carnival borne out of a horrible crime, but fortunately, even the most tragic circus eventually leaves town. As CNN tells us, in April 2015, Arias was sentenced to life in prison, with zero possibility for parole. As with everything about the case, the road to this conclusion was a bumpy one with many strange twists and turns. Arias had already been found guilty in May 2013, but the jury couldn't decide whether she should be sentenced to death or not. In October 2014, the exact same thing happened to a second jury. As such, Arias dodged capital punishment, and her sentencing was left to a judge.   

Before the sentence was read, Arias spoke of her actions with regret. "To this day I can't believe that I was capable of doing something that terrible," she said. "I'm truly disgusted and repulsed with myself. I'm horrified because of what I did, and I wish there was some way I could take it back." Per CNN, however, this didn't stop her from filing an appeal, accusing the prosecutor of overt hostility and quoting the overwhelming publicity of the case. In 2020, the Arizona court of Appeals proved unsympathetic to her arguments.

Jodi Arias' crime turned her into a celebrity

The murder of Travis Alexander and the subsequent trial of Jodi Arias received vast nationwide attention, and as CBC reports, Arias herself became a well-known figure as a result. She was able to turn her fame into profit by selling prison-made artwork online. She also became Twitter famous, thanks to an account that her friends kept on her behalf. As criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn wrote in Psychology Today in 2015, Arias acquired the status of a "celebrity monster" who had her fans, but also plenty of enthusiastic detractors. The latter crowd could get so heated that a member of the second jury who refused to vote for giving Arias the death sentence — and thus saved her from death row –  received copious death threats for her decision, and her personal information was leaked online.

Even years after the case was solved and Arias received her life sentence, her name carries weight. In fact, as recently as July 2020, Entertainment Tonight reported about Jodi Arias: Cellmate Secrets — a Lifetime special about Arias' former cellmates, who entered the Arias media mix with a claim that she didn't kill Alexander alone.