85-Year-Old Woman Kills Masked Intruder While Handcuffed in ‘Heroic’ Act of Self-Defense

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
April 11, 2024US News
85-Year-Old Woman Kills Masked Intruder While Handcuffed in ‘Heroic’ Act of Self-Defense
Derek Condon, 39, was shot and killed during the break-in in Bingham County, Idaho, on March 13, 2024. (Courtesy of Bingham County Sheriff's Office)

An elderly woman from Idaho acted in self-defense when she shot and killed a masked home intruder who terrorized her at gunpoint, a prosecutor announced in an incident review this week.

Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Jolley said on April 9 that the case of Christine Jenneiahn, 85, is “one of the most heroic acts of self-preservation I have ever heard of.”

“This case presents an easy analysis of self-defense and justifiable homicide,” Mr. Jolley wrote in the review shared by the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office.

He added that Ms. Jenneiahn’s “grit, determination, and will to live” appears to be what saved her during a horrifying home invasion that took place in Bingham County last month, further pointing out that she was “justified in taking any and all means necessary to defend herself and her son that night.”

Ms. Jenneiahn’s disabled son, David, was asleep in her home when the suspect, identified as 39-year-old Derek Condon, broke in around 2 a.m. on March 13.

According to Mr. Jolley’s review, the suspect was dressed in a military jacket and a black ski mask and pointing a gun and flashlight at Ms. Jenneiahn.

The review also says Mr. Condon likely struck Ms. Jenneiahn in her head while she was in bed. A subsequent investigation also found blood on her pillow and her bedroom floor.

Ms. Jenneiahn also told investigators that the suspect hit her in the head at some point during the incident, but she was unsure of exactly when that took place.

After waking up Ms. Jenneiahn at gunpoint, the suspect handcuffed her and took her to the living room, where he handcuffed her to a wooden chair and asked her where she kept her valuables. When she told him that she didn’t have many valuables in her home, the suspect allegedly placed his gun to her head, according to the documents.

She then told him about two safes she had downstairs in the home, and Ms. Jenneiahn told detectives that the suspect went there “multiple times” to look and “rummaged through several rooms in the house” in search of her valuables.

At some point, Mr. Condon discovered Ms. Jenneiahn’s son and “became angry” with her because she had not told him of his presence. He allegedly threatened her multiple times, saying he would kill her.

‘Now or Never’

While Mr. Condon was scouring her house to look for possessions he could steal, Ms. Jenneiahn dragged the chair to which she was handcuffed into her bedroom and retrieved her .357 Magnum revolver from under her pillow, the review says.

She then went back to the living room and concealed the revolver between the armrest and cushion of a couch next to where she was seated. Then, she waited to see what Mr. Condon had planned next.

Mr. Jolley then states in the summary that Ms. Jenneiahn’s “memory of exactly what occurred next remains somewhat unclear,” but she told the prosecuting attorney that the suspect “threatened to kill her as he continued to rummage through her home and burglarize it.”

While Mr. Condon continued to burglarize her home, Ms. Jenneiahn “ultimately decided that it was ‘now or never’ and drew her concealed 357 magnum and engaged Condon, striking him with both her shots,” the review stated.

Mr. Condon returned fire, Mr. Jolley said, emptying a 9mm pistol and striking the elderly lady multiple times in her abdomen, leg, arm, and chest. The severely wounded suspect then retreated into the adjoining kitchen, where he died from the gunshot wounds.

As Mr. Condon retreated to the kitchen, Ms. Jenneiahn fell to the floor while still handcuffed and was there for about 10 hours before her son found her and gave her a phone to call 911. Deputies arrived at approximately 12:17 p.m. and provided lifesaving measures.

“That Christine survived this encounter is truly incredible,” Mr. Jolley said.

According to the review, Mr. Condon’s car was found near the home, and a set of footprints leading from the vehicle in the direction of the residence was also discovered.

On Mr. Condon’s body, investigators recovered a lock pick set, a car key, a handcuff key, and a bag containing valuables he had allegedly stolen from the residence.

A subsequent investigation also found that a window was broken in the back of the residence, where authorities recovered a screwdriver near the location investigators suspect Mr. Condon broke in.

Stand Your Ground in Idaho

Had Mr. Condon survived, Mr. Jolley said he would have charged him with multiple felonies, including attempted murder, kidnapping, burglary, aggravated battery, and grand theft.

“I find that Christine acted in justifiable self-defense and that Cordon’s death was justifiable homicide pursuant to Idaho law,” Mr. Jolley concluded.

According to Idaho’s self-defense law, “No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting himself,” the review says.

“In addition, an individual acting in self-defense is not required to ‘wait until he or she ascertains whether the danger is apparent or real,’ and ‘need not retreat from any place that person has a right to be,'” it added.

“A person may stand his ground and defend himself or another person by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge without the benefit of hindsight.”

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