Daughter, wife, mother in turmoil

Above, Heather and Eric Jensen play with their sons, Tyler and William, at a Grand Valley home in November 2011. Police continue to investigate the boys’ mysterious deaths on Grand Mesa on Nov. 27, about six weeks after their father died in a car accident in Garfield County.

Special to the Sentinel—Tyler and William Jensen, shown in 2011 in the backyard of a home in the Grand Valley, appeared to be living in circumstances of squalor and neglect before they died, according to a neighbor and a former roommate of their mother.

“Nobody comes between me and my 3 boys ...”

“If u trie to get in the way of my family u will get knocked down hard ...”

That’s what 24-year-old Heather Lynn Jensen wrote in her own profile on Facebook prior to the Nov. 27 incident on Grand Mesa that led to the deaths of her young boys. The page was accessible through Nov. 28. It’s gone now.

Death, it seems, follows Jensen.

The woman at the focus of a death investigation involving her sons, William, 2, and Tyler, 4, lost her husband, Eric, in a traffic accident in Garfield County on Oct. 10, and experienced her father’s death — all within two years. She named William after her father, who was killed in what a Florida police investigation ruled a bizarre accident.

Heather Jensen, along with other members of her divided family, believes it was murder.

She said as much on her now-deleted Facebook page, saying her dad was slain ‘... bout 1 year ago jan 2011. ... ”

It actually happened Jan. 22, 2010.

A sister, a former roommate and a current neighbor described Jensen as a loving wife and mother, but immature, neglectful and a substance abuser following a heavily medicated childhood. Jensen’s sister, Tanya Scott of Florida, recalls her father “having to ween” Jensen off prescribed pills.

“We’d go to the store and she’d run into aisle displays, she was so medicated,” Scott said, speaking of her sister’s youth.

Heather Jensen and her mother, Florida resident Sherry Holesapple, have not responded to repeated messages from The Daily Sentinel.

Santa claus, medications

Scott was 18 when she finally met her younger sister, Heather.

Their father, William, separated from Jensen’s mother, Sherry, around 2001 and Heather came to live with her sister for roughly a year.

“That split caused her a lot of issues emotionally,” Scott said. “Heather was very young mentally for her years ... she does not have the mindset of a 24-year-old. Her mother tried to keep her naive and as child-like as possible ... had her believing in Santa until age 13.”

“Her mom had her on a lot of medications when she was younger and I remember our father took her to the doctor trying to ween her off,” Scott said, recalling use of bipolar medications, among others.

She was a “great aunt,” regularly caring for Scott’s older son after 2002, never forgetting a birthday and constantly sending cards.

“Once she hit her late teenage years, I didn’t see her often,” she said.

Eric Jensen seemed to “steady” her.

“Eric made her become an adult and tried to keep her acting responsibly,” Scott said. “They seemed to balance each other out for the most part.”

Tanya said she and her father drove across the state to visit Heather after Tyler was born, when she met Eric for the first time. The young couple drove to Tampa to visit for Heather’s 21st birthday, shortly before moving to Colorado, where Eric had job prospects.

“They seemed to be doing great, I don’t know how things changed after my father passed,” Scott said.

Life insurance dispute

On the night of Jan. 22, 2010, 59-year-old William Hayes Holesapple was tending a backyard burn pit, hosting a cookout, when he caught fire dousing dwindling flames with kerosene, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department incident report. Holesapple suffered burns over 70 percent of his body and died two days later. An investigation concluded the death was accidental and the matter was closed. Two others were present at the time of Holesapple’s death.

Heather’s mother was convinced it was murder, while Heather “will believe anything her mother tells her,” Scott said.

According to Scott, Sherry Holesapple threatened to take out a restraining order against her contacting Heather. The dispute centered on payout of a life insurance policy for William Holesapple, Scott said.

William Jensen was born in Colorado as the sisters increasingly lost contact. Tanya kept tabs on Facebook, where Heather wrote about plans to go to school to become an X-ray technician. Here in the Grand Valley, Heather worked as a cashier at the Maverik convenience store in Clifton and at Wendy’s in Clifton.

“After William was born, Heather emailed me and told me that she had a life-threatening illness and had to have a hysterectomy,” Scott said. “I did try to keep in contact with her, but with all of the drama I found it best to keep to myself.”

Sister she knew

Their next substantive conversation was over the phone shortly after Eric Jensen was killed Oct. 10 in the two-vehicle crash in Garfield County. A Colorado State Patrol accident report found excessive speed by Jensen’s vehicle to be a contributing factor.

“I could barely understand her because she was crying so hard,” Scott said. “She told me she had talked to him a half-hour before the accident and he was coming home to see the boys.”

That’s the last they’ve spoken. Scott said she has attempted, without success, to reach her sister since the Nov. 27 incident on Powderhorn Road that led to the deaths of William and Tyler.

“The Heather that I knew would never hurt her children,” she said.

The portrayal of a hard-partying, hell-bent Heather Jensen that has emerged over recent weeks came as a surprise to her sister.

Looking for playmates

On the last weekend of William and Tyler’s active lives, several children at the apartment complex where they lived at 939 Iowa Ave. in Palisade were outside playing during a cold turn in the weather, recalls Heather Williams, who lives in Unit 1.

“William and Tyler were the only kids who didn’t have coats,” she said.

Williams estimated that once or twice a week in recent months she’d see the boys venture outside, unsupervised, partially dressed or in diapers, doing what little boys do. Tyler led, William shadowed his big brother.

“They were knocking on doors trying to find somebody to play with,” Williams said. “Most often from what I observed Heather was not the one responsible for the kids.”

Williams and a former roommate of Jensen’s, Kimberly Allen, describe the boys’ existence as one of squalor and neglect. Allen claims she walked in one time on Jensen “snorting pills,” which resulted in Heather locking her out of their apartment for the day.

“I’d wake up, William was still in his crib, and she was gone,” Allen said, who estimated that happened a dozen or so times.

On another occasion, Tyler wandered around the apartment holding a prescription pill bottle, she said.

“She had them everywhere,” Allen said.

Public records from Heather Jensen’s March 13 domestic violence arrest — when Eric told police she had bit him and punched him — state a fight escalated when her husband confronted her about hanging out with a friend she received medication from. Jensen has no other criminal history in Colorado, but Florida records show she was arrested in Fort Myers, Fla., in July 2006 on suspicion of trespassing and cited in January 2009 for a non-moving traffic violation.

Another current neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mesa County social workers were called to Jensen’s apartment several times since 2010. Mesa County Department of Human Services spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said information about the Jensen deaths remains sealed under court order.

“On that basis, we are unable to provide the records you are requesting at this time,” Martsolf wrote in an e-mail statement, when asked about Human Services’ involvement with the Jensen boys prior to Nov. 27.

Allen said she didn’t report her experiences to police or social services.

“I should have done something,” she said.


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