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updated: 4/2/2014 8:19 PM

History of abuse before Aurora woman's slaying

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  • Jose Loera

      Jose Loera

 
 

Despite a domestic abuse conviction that came with an order not to go near his estranged girlfriend, Jose Loera persisted.

And despite a tumultuous history with nurse Heather Jacobi, Loera persuaded a judge he should be allowed to have contact with her. A day later, she was dead.

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Jacobi, 32, of Aurora was found strangled to death Saturday in her home. Loera, 35, also of Aurora, is being held on $5 million bail, charged with her murder.

Prosecutors said the couple had a troubled relationship and Loera had a history of abusing Jacobi. But she did agree to the loosening of the no-contact order, court records show.

Vickie Smith, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said victims like Jacobi often are in a constant state of survival and seeking safety.

"It sounds like he was determined that he was going to get back into her life one way or the other, and he was able to convince the right people to help him make it happen," Smith said. "If I'm that victim, I may be thinking he'll get off my back if I appease him and just give him this. If he's not mad about this, he'll leave me alone."

Jacobi took out an order of protection against Loera in February 2013, alleging he had choked her into unconsciousness as she begged him to not kill her "because her children needed their mother," Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond said during Loera's bond hearing earlier this week.

Prosecutors said Loera's ex-wife also took out an order of protection against him in 2008 after he was accused of domestic battery.

In June 2013, Loera was charged with domestic battery against Jacobi and, in a related incident, was accused of using a rock to damage the car of a man visiting Jacobi.

Court documents show Loera pleaded guilty to the domestic battery on Aug. 29, 2013, and was sentenced Jan. 2 to one year of probation. Along with being prohibited from owning a dangerous weapon, abusing illicit drugs and a litany of other instructions, Loera was instructed to "have no contact, directly or indirectly, with Heather Jacobi."

Despite the order, authorities said, Jacobi and Loera continued to see each other, even posting photos of them together on her Facebook page.

Court documents filed March 25 also show that Jacobi contacted Loera's probation officer in support of amending the no-contact order to allow Loera to legally see her, records show.

At 8:57 a.m. Friday, despite prosecutors' objections, Judge Robert Miller lifted the restriction.

Jacobi's body was found at 7:30 a.m. Saturday after she failed to show up for her job as a registered nurse in the DuPage County jail.

Prosecutors said Loera told them he hit her in the head between one and 100 times before strangling her with her scarf. He used her nurse's stethoscope to ensure she was dead, they said.

Appearing in bond court earlier this week, Loera's face was covered with cuts and scratches -- from the struggle put up by Jacobi, prosecutors said. They said Loera stole pills from Jacobi before fleeing to his house. Once there, Loera took several pills and passed out in a suicide attempt.

State's attorney spokesman Paul Darrah said prosecutors will always object to any reduction of a sentence issued by a judge.

"It would take extraordinary circumstances for us not to object to the reduction of a sentence," Darrah said.

Loera's probation officer, Shauna Wolf, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

Sadly, Smith said, cases like this are all too common. In the last fiscal year alone, 80 people were killed in 59 separate domestic violence cases in Illinois.

"Prevention needs to start at the preschool level, where we teach our young ones that no one person, despite the relationship, ever has power over another person. They need to learn that from the get go," Smith said. "We also need to build a better community system to allow us to identify high-risk abusers before we have another situation like this one."

Jacobi leaves behind three young children. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Anderson Memorial Chapel, 606 Townhall Dr., in Romeoville.

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