News World

CRIME HUNTER

Texas lothario's sex game

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

Jessie Bardwell’s dad called her Jessie Boo.

Despite her leggy good looks, long-flowing blond hair and bubbly personality, the 27-year-old was at heart a daddy’s girl.

“Jessie had a smile that could light up a room,” her mom Carla told the Dallas Morning News. “And a heart of gold.”

But as 2015 wore on, her mother and father — who lived in Mississippi — heard less and less from their beloved daughter.

Could it be the new man in her life?

Flashy, luxury-loving Jason Lowe, 28, must have seemed like a real catch: handsome, free-spending, he clearly turned the country girl’s head with his fast city ways.

Until he began forcing his new girlfriend to start cutting ties with childhood friends and her close-knit family.

When Jessie vanished, Lowe laid it on thick to the worry-stricken Bardwell family. Flooding the family with the malarkey only a practised player could ooze, the Bardwells didn’t know if she was dead or alive.

On May 29, 2015 — after her parents reported her missing — Lowe was arrested for his role in her disappearance.

Jessie was last seen on Apr. 29 on surveillance video captured at the apartment’s fitness centre. When she didn’t call on Mother’s Day, her parents called the cops to report her missing.

Lowe told detectives the duo “lead a lifestyle where they both do their own thing and aren’t “co-dependent.”

But a search of the garage left even veteran investigators retching: It reeked of decaying flesh. In Lowe’s Audi, pools of blood had coagulated and hardened in the back seat.

The greasy yuppie had another secret: he had been convicted of battering another ex-girlfriend just months before he hooked up with Jessie.

Sixteen months later, Jessie Bardwell’s rotting corpse was found on a muddy, rural property.

In court last week, Lowe told an outlandish tale: it was all a terrible accident.

According to the preppy killer, the couple had done club drug GHB and were having sex in the shower when Jessie slipped, hit her head and died.

If it was that simple, a tragic accident, why wait 16 months to tell cops?

At the same time, Lowe had been sexting — and hooking up with — scores of women.

Adios, Senor Lowe, see ya in 50 years.

“Evil doesn’t typically announce itself. It rarely wears a neon sign,” prosecutor Cynthia Walker told the jury.

“Evil can come in a nice suit, and evil can drive an Audi.”

 

HUNT FOR A LITTLE GIRL’S KILLER

Middle America is sprinkled with podunk towns where nothing much ever happens.

Seldom does anyone of note come from these hopeless burgs.

But like the rest of the U.S. terrible things can — and do — happen there. Stamford, Tex. with a population of just 4,000 is one of those towns.

On Sept. 2, 1988, the dusty town in the Texas Panhandle — north of Abilene — was left reeling by a murder so vile and unspeakable that it haunts today.

At about 7:30 p.m. that night, Cortney Clayton begged her dad to let her go to a nearby store for a soda. She was seven.

Her dad watched her cross the street and skip to the store. She was never seen alive again.

At the store, she was just short of the change needed for the can of pop. A man in line behind her offered to make up the difference. The clerk said no, Cortney was good for it.

When her brother got to the store to escort her home, Cortney was gone, vanished into thin air.

The can of soda sat ominously on the hood of the store manager’s car.

Cops had a description of the stranger, who had been hanging around. Dark-complexioned and in his 20s, he gave people a bad vibe.

Six months later, Cortney’s body was found but cops were unable to determine her cause of death. They only knew that it was murder.

The Texas Rangers have reopened the case and is offering a reward that will bring her killer to justice.

 

MOST WANTED

NAME: Lyle Ridgewell

AGE: 60

CIRCUMSTANCES: Convicted killer Lyle Ridgewell is wanted by the R.O.P.E Squad on a Canada-wide warrant for breaching his parole. Ridgewell is on parole for life after being convicted of second-degree murder. He’s 5-foot-6, 143 lbs. And has hazel eyes and brown hair. Cops urge people to use caution.

CONTACT: Provincial R.O.P.E. Squad at 416-808-5900 or toll-free at 1-866-870-ROPE (7673) or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or call 911.

bhunter@postmedia.com