The Foster Parent From Hell! | What Really Happened To Billie-Jo Jenkins?

 (From left: Sion Jenkins. From Right: Billie-Jo Jenkins. Picture credits: thatslife)

*Please be aware that some of the details that I will be sharing in this post will mention sensitive subjects such as child abuse and murder. As always, I have tried to be as sensitive as I can whilst not taking away from the facts of the case*

This case has to be one of the most talked about in the UK for a very long time. The horrific murder of 13 year old Billie-Jo Margaret Jenkins in Hastings (England) in 1997 was a case that shocked and baffled not only the UK public but beyond. This beautiful young girl was just painting the patio doors in the back garden of her foster family home, when she was suddenly attacked and bludgeoned to death with an iron tent peg. She was later 'found' by her foster father, Sion Jenkins but there was more to this than met the eye. 

Going into Billie-Jo's background, she had a tough start with her biological parents. Born in East London on the 29th of March 1983, her biological parents had not exactly been prepared for her arrival. With a father in prison and a mother who was struggling to make ends meet, Billie-Jo was taken into foster care and ended up with Sion and Lois Jenkins (they shared the same surname which can make it a bit confusing when discussing the case). The couple had four daughters and a beautiful house and at the beginning, Billie-Jo was welcomed in with open least by Lois. It seemed that Sion had a bit of a short temper to say the least. A man who was described as being quick to fly off the handle at the least little thing, he ruled his family with an iron fist. 

Sion had been a troubled child and not much is known about his childhood except that he had been kicked out of school for his behaviour. Behavioural issues have been noted and his constant need for telling lies about the least little thing. He was a fantasist and like a lot of people, he would tell a few lies on his CV and application forms in order to get teaching jobs. Like a true narcissist he couldn't just tell a few lies about dates or the odd qualification here and there, he made out that he had 10 O-levels and was qualified for specific teaching roles when all he had was a pretty average educational background but not adequate training in the specific roles he was going for. He did manage to get away with a few things because he was quite good at presenting a certain image as well as being able to charm people. 

So at home, the guy was a nightmare to live with and if anyone was to do anything that he deemed to be wrong or not perfect, he would raise his hand or use weapons to 'punish' his daughters. His wife also had been on the receiving end of his temper one too many times. 

(Sion Jenkins. Picture credit: thesun)

Billie-Jo had been living with the Jenkins family for 5 years up until she was murdered and even though she was technically a 'foster child', Sion didn't let her escape his 'punishments' either. The pair clashed on a regular basis over silly things to do with music being on too loud or not doing homework. Sion would physically assault Billie-Jo to the point where she would go to school covered in bruises and her school friends would become concerned. Billie-Jo would tell them that Sion would get angry and grab her by the neck and hurt her. Billie-Jo was an abused child there's no doubt about that, she was in such turmoil that she had written 'I Hate My Dad' (meaning Sion) on her knuckles on one occasion. Her friends at school knew what had been going on at home and there was an incident where Billie-Jo had sprained her ankle and during an argument, Sion deliberately kicked her on the affected area. Various witnesses had seen similar incidences involving Sion's abuse of Billie-Jo and his family. It was no secret but for some reason people were too scared to say anything. Sion could also cut quite an intimidating figure. 

So there had been trouble for a while when Sion had returned from a trip and had arranged for Billie-Jo to paint the patio doors in the back garden in exchange for some extra pocket money. Two of his other daughters were going to wash the car at the front of the house. The date was the 15th of February 1997 and Sion's behaviour on this day was reported to have been strange. He had two of his daughters in the car when he got out and left them inside before returning a short time later. He then drove to a DIY store with no money and then drove a different way home which took longer than his usual route. During this time, Billie-Jo was lying deceased in the back garden of the house. Nobody else was home at the time and when Sion and the girls returned, Sion went into the back garden where he claimed that he had suddenly found Billie-Jo laying in blood, unresponsive. 

The odd behaviour continued with him taking his time to call for help having been practically forced to by a neighbour. He then refused to follow the operator's instructions on the phone of checking to see if Billie-Jo was still breathing. He just stood there calm and telling them that he didn't need to check that it was obvious she was deceased. Foster parent or not, you would think that in that situation and absolute horror at seeing this poor girl in the state that she was in, would be utterly devastating and that he would want to be by her side until the ambulance and police arrived. He vanished into the house for a short period of time and then came back. His story to the police wasn't straightforward either. 

Because he was a well-dressed, well-spoken man of a certain class (or the appearance of a certain class with the nice big house, car etc), it was often the case that these types of people were treated a certain way by the police because he didn't look like a typical suspect. The police even asked him to do a public appeal for information but as the days went on, a lot of things were not adding up. The police began to see holes in Sion's story including the fact that he went to the DIY store without any money for items that he already had at the house. The different route he had taken to and from the DIY store which was soon seen as a way for him to provide some sort of alibi. Before going to the DIY store he had been bringing the two girls home from a clarinet lesson when he left the car for a short period of time and then returned to go to the DIY store. 

Police believe that in that time, he had gone to the back of the house where he confronted Billie-Jo and some sort of argument ensued. There was paint on the windows of the patio doors and knowing how crazy Sion could get about things, maybe there was a disagreement about that? There was an iron tent peg that had been left in the garden and this was the weapon that was used to strike Billie-Jo violently over the head five times. The police believe that he then went back to the car and took the girls to the DIY store without any money, for items that he did not need, as a way to create an alibi. 

During the time that Billie-Jo was murdered there were theories about someone else being involved and a few potential suspects had been thrown into the mix, however the police could not establish a connection to either of these suspects and experts claim that it would have been impossible for a random person to break into the back garden, find a weapon so quickly, murder Billie-Jo and then flee the scene without anyone noticing. 

There was also the fact that Sion Jenkins (strangely enough - I say that in a sarcastic tone) just happened to have small droplets of Billie-Jo's blood all over him from head to toe. It was later determined that included in the droplets were pieces of bone and matter. Sion claimed that he had held Billie-Jo at some point and that she had breathed these droplets out on to him. He was arrested and put on trial and everyone around him believed he did it, including his wife and his own biological children. Too many people had seen or been a victim of his temper in the past and knew what he was like. People had also seen his treatment of Billie-Jo. 

At the first trial they threw the book at him, sentenced him to life imprisonment and it looked like justice had been served but he decided to appeal, luckily this was thrown out. With the support of an Investigative Journalist, Sion and his supporters (yes, he has supporters!) pushed forward with another appeal and a re-trial was granted. This was based on the possibility that Billie-Jo could have (due to gases in her lungs) breathed out the blood on to Sion. It was all if's, but's and maybes but the re-trial went ahead. 

So he had the first trial and was convicted and then appealed which was thrown out (hope you are still with me here) then a bunch of busy-bodies got involved and they pressed for another appeal. He was granted a re-trial which couldn't come to a conclusion, the jury were hung so another re-trial was ordered and guess what? long story short, he walked! Nobody could come to a decision on his guilt so he was set free. According to the powers that be, they couldn't prove that he was 100% guilty and they couldn't prove he was 100% not guilty. 

(Newspaper article on the case. Picture credit: buggedspace)

I don't know what was going through anyone's minds at these trials but how much more red flags do you need? This was a violent man who abused his own family, even his wife and biological children believed him to be guilty. He wasn't just abusive, he was a pathological liar. 

It seemed to be that because so much money had been spent on this case (apparently somewhere in the region of £10 million pounds) and so much time and work had gone into the trials that it came across that they had simply given up. It was like Sion Jenkins was too clever for them, he outsmarted them because I know people who have been thrown in jail for less. As they often say in the true crime community, this guy had the smoking gun. The time frames, the strange behaviour before, during and after the murder, the history of violence and constant lying. The microscopic blood, bone and matter that been found all over him. 

You can't blame some people for still talking about this case today because for a lot of people in the UK this guy got away with murder! Where is the justice for Billie-Jo? After the decision was made to let him go, the police announced that they had fought so hard to get justice for Billie-Jo but they were closing the investigation. People were furious and quite rightly so. In my opinion and as I've often read in other cases over the years, the police believed that they had their perpetrator, they believe Sion Jenkins to be guilty 100% but why continue to waste tax payers money looking for another suspect that didn't exist? The police do all they can but in the end it's the courtroom that decides.

After being set free after spending 6 years in prison, Sion played (and still continues to do so) the part of the innocent man done wrong. He teamed up with his Investigative Journalist pal and they wrote a book about the case with a picture of Billie-Jo on the front cover. Criminals are not allowed to profit off of crimes but because he was technically set free obviously he was given the go-ahead to write a book. I haven't read it but my friends in the true crime community have and it did nothing to change their minds of his guilt and the words ''very narcissistic'' popped up a few times. 

Sion decided to try and make more cash by doing interviews with anyone who would listen as well as trying to bag £500,000 compensation for being 'locked up for a crime he didn't commit'. Thankfully the attempt at wasting more tax payers money didn't happen because the board couldn't determine him to be 100% not guilty and eligible for compensation. To think he had the actual nerve to write a book, do interviews and try and claim compensation. You'd think that an innocent man would be too busy moving heaven and earth trying to find the supposed real murderer. 

So where is he now? Well he tried to get into politics (I think he enjoys attention on a public platform way too much) but failed and is apparently living in Hampshire with his new wife. 

I mentioned earlier that the police closed the case but in January 2022 they decided to do a case review which got everyone's hopes up. Basically this just means that they are not re-opening the investigation, they are just reviewing the case as they do routinely with 'cold cases'. This was reported in January 2022 and there hasn't been an update since. There was talk of a possible link to the murder of Billie-Jo to that of a well known convicted r**ist but nothing more has come of that either. If any updates happen I will share them as soon as they come up. 

Billie-Jo would have been 40 years old today (at time of writing - 2023) if she hadn't had her life so cruelly taken. Just 13 years old with her whole life in front of her, she had a lot on her shoulders at 13, one let down after another and one wonders if when she first arrived at the Jenkins family home, was she thinking that this could finally be the place to call a true home? Her biological family vow to keep going and fight for justice for her. Her biological father passed away and is buried in the same plot as Billie-Jo at City of London Cemetery and Crematorium. 

(Billie-Jo's final resting place. Picture credit: findagrave)

It's so heartbreaking to think that she only had 13 years on this earth and the majority of that was very difficult for her and then for it all to end in such a horrific way, it's just devastating. I pray for justice for Billie-Jo, it' important that none of us forget what has happened here. 

(Billie-Jo Jenkins. Picture credit: unilad)

RIP Billie-Jo 

Further Reading & Sources:

Billie-Jo Jenkins: Article | The Mirror

Billie-Jo Jenkins: Article | BBC

Billie-Jo Jenkins: Article | Daily Mail

Billie-Jo Jenkins | The Forensics Library

Billie- Jo Jenkins | Wikipedia

Billie-Jo Jenkins: Article | The Standard

Billie-Jo Jenkins: Article | Sussex Express

Billie-Jo Jenkins | Find A Grave

Documentary Segment Feat The Billie-Jo Jenkins case

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