Jeffery “Jeff” D. Wood
24 Years Old

February 27, 1966 to March 11, 1990

Jeff Wood was born on February 27, 1966, the youngest of three siblings and 3 half siblings to Neil and Betty Wood. Jeff and I met during the summer of 1985 and I got to know him as a gentle, caring and devoted person. He stood six foot three inches tall and had beautiful, kind blue eyes with amazing long, black eyelashes. It didn’t take long before we were dating.
Jeff sometimes worked two jobs while attending college (the University of Northern Iowa) earning a degree in criminology, a course of study he was very excited and passionate about. Jeff was studious, taking his coursework seriously while managing his time to include his jobs and his friends and family.
Jeff was a source of pride for his parents. Neither of Jeff’s parents drove and his father had been diagnosed with cancer but Jeff made sure they had what they needed, drove them to where they needed to go and was overall a devoted and loving son. Jeff had many friends. He loved to host parties that usually included playing cards. Jeff especially enjoyed poker and pepper. Jeff loved sports, too. He was particularly fond of the Iowa Hawkeye’s, the Chicago Cubs, and the Minnesota Vikings. Jeff also enjoyed fishing, playing basketball and lifting weights whenever time allowed.
In December of 1989, Jeff graduated from UNI. It was an exciting time. Our wedding was around the corner and he would soon be starting his career. He started the application process to obtain a job in the federal prison system while also interviewing for jobs in the area. In the mean time, Jeff drove a beer truck (a temporary dream job!) to earn money while waiting to start his “real” job. Our families learned after his death that he had been accepted for a job with the federal prisons. We were very proud of him.
On March 11, 1990, just one day after Jeff’s bachelor party and 40 days before our wedding on April 20, Jeff was murdered. It was an unseasonably warm Sunday evening so we decided to go for a walk. Little did we know that we were being stalked by a car of seven gang “wannabe’s” They had a gun and they wanted to use it. They parked their car in a church parking lot where four of the young men got out and followed us. Two of the young men acted as “look outs” and the other two young men came up behind us and shoved Jeff. They kept pushing him until he was pinned against a house. Then they shot him. As soon as the gun went off, they ran away. I didn’t realize Jeff had been shot. I kept asking him what was wrong as he stumbled along the side of the house, holding his left side, and heading to the back yard. Jeff finally said that he had been shot. I started screaming. He fell and struggled to his feet twice before falling a third time. He never got up again. Jeff struggled to live. At one point he stopped breathing. I took his shoulders and said, “We’re getting married, you have to breathe”, and he did. But the damage was done. The bullet went through Jeff’s left side, destroying his heart and piercing his lungs. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.


On Tuesday morning, less than two full days after Jeff’s murder, four young men were charged with first degree murder in Jeff’s death. Daniel Maurice Claybon, the shooter, was convicted of first degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Keith Christopher Walker, who stole the gun that was used and shoved Jeff, was also convicted of first degree murder and is serving a life sentence. Harry Bernard Johnson was convicted of second degree murder and is out on parole after serving 15 years. Richard Lamont Smith pleaded guilty to second degree murder in exchange for his testimony. He is out on parole after serving 16 years.

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