The details moved many court onlookers to tears, including Keara’s family, investigators and police officers.
Hazel, who was scheduled to begin a jury trial on Aug. 24, entered a surprise guilty plea on Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Judge William Goodman’s court.
Hazel, 30, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his 23-year-old wife, Keara Hazel, and their two children, Kayden, 3, and Jaylynn, 9 months old.
On Sept. 14, 2017, Clarksville Police responded to the family’s home on Mills Drive, where they discovered the bodies. During the investigation, Hazel admitted to Detective Fred McClintock that he had murdered his family.
On June 9, Hazel’s attorney, Public Defender Roger Nell, argued in a competency hearing that his client was not mentally stable to stand trial. Goodman ruled Hazel was mentally capable to participate in his defense.
After asking Hazel if he was medicated and understood what he was doing, Goodman accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Hazel to life in prison.
Under the agreement, Hazel pleaded guilty as charged to three counts of pre-meditated first-degree murder and agreed to three life with parole sentences. The agreement ultimately gave him two life sentences, as two of the charges will be served at the same time, but in conjunction with the other. He will serve 110 years before being eligible for parole.
Before the hearing, Karen Griffin, the mother of Keara Hazel, hugged Clarksville Police investigators and thanked them for their hard work investigating the case.
“They went above and beyond,” Griffin said of the police and District Attorney’s Office. “To me it showed how this had impacted everyone’s life.”
Following the hearing, she hugged Hazel’s public defender, Roger Nell.
“I told him I prayed for (Nell) and it was no ill will. God used him to help, too,” Griffin said. “I’m not bitter, but I hate what Jordan did. I hate the sin, but not the sinner. I feel sorry for him, because he is going to live with this every day. I’m going to live with the last good memories I have with Keara, Kaden and Jaylynn. It was filled with hugs, kisses and I love you’s.”
Griffin said if she could speak to Hazel, she’d want him to know:
“This Bible verse was in Keara’s purse laying on top: 1 John 3:18: ‘My children our love should not be just words and talk, it must be true love which shows itself in action.’ Jordan, your actions were not love. Your actions were pure evil, but I serve a mighty God who forgives and redeems. My prayer for you is that my God saves your soul and his mercy be upon you before you reach God’s final judgement.”
The investigation determined that Hazel premeditated the murders and, despite later claiming to be mentally incompetent, he killed his family to start a new life.
Hazel told police he went to his friend Logan Price’s home on Sept. 13 and got his Mossburg shotgun.
When he got to the family’s home at 221 Mills Road, he sat in his driveway and loaded the shotgun.
He went in the home, called Keara from their bedroom and, as she started to come out of the room, he shot her at point blank range in the head and neck, killing her.
His son, Kaden, began following Hazel around the home.
Hazel told police he left the home and went back to Price’s home, leaving his kids alone with their dead mother.
Hazel went back to the home, called Kaden to him and shot him in the head, killing him.
He then murdered Jaylynn, shooting her in the face as she lay in her playpen.
After shooting, his baby, he took a shower, called his family and went to bed around 11 p.m.
Around 3 a.m., he woke up and shot his already deceased family members again.
After showering and cooking breakfast, he went for a drive in the country towards Stewart County.
He stopped to buy sweet tea from McDonald’s and threw his cell phone out of the car on his way back home. He stopped to get gas but couldn’t because his card was declined.
Then he drove near Tennova hospital, parked and read the Bible and a men’s devotional before returning to the home.
He made more phone calls and then took a nap.
He was awakened by Keara’s mother, Karen Griffin, who was knocking on the door.
Hazel told police he could “solve everyone’s problems and he wanted his past to die so he could start a new life.”
Griffin drove from her home in Stewart County that day and found Jordan Hazel at home and her daughter’s car in the driveway. She soon discovered her daughter dead and called 911. She later learned the children had been murdered too.
Lund said it was a tough case, and a lot of people were affected by it.
“This case has been especially difficult for everyone involved,” Lund said. “I’m grateful to the Clarksville Police Department for all the hard work during the investigation. The loss of Keara, Kaden and Jaylynn has impacted many in this community. I hope that this brings a little peace to those hurting.”