'Our Son Hired Hit Men to Kill Us'


The Plot

Robyn said police told her that according to the confession, the hit men were supposed to come in through the front door and kill her husband first "because he would put up a fight, and then kill me and then go upstairs and take the guns from my husband's collection and then take our Jaguar.'

"They said Jacob told them he would pay them $5,000 once he inherited our money," she said, wiping tears from her eyes. She says police told her that the hit men "said Jacob told them he had taken all the ammunition out of the house so we couldn't defend ourselves."

Jett has no previous criminal record, according to the prosecutor and the Parnells.

Untroubled Childhood

Married 25 years, the Parnells adopted Jett as a baby when his mother — Richard's sister — developed a severe drug addiction.

She has spent years in and out of prison, they said. The Parnells work at the nearby Lake City Army Ammunition facility. Richard tests ammunition and Robyn is a data manager. Richard has an extensive gun collection that he keeps in the home. An avid hunter, he said gun safety has always been priority in their household.

Sitting at their kitchen table as heavy snow blanketed the neighborhood outside, the Parnells spoke lovingly of Jett, recalling one story after another of a seemingly gentle soul who they said loves children, fishing and his high school drama club.

"He was an absolutely wonderful child," Richard said. "When he was a little baby, 8 or 9 months old, I would get up early, Robyn was working days, and I would sit at the kitchen table drinking coffee. He'd want to do whatever I did, so I'd pour a glass of milk and then put a couple drops of coffee in it, to make him feel like he was doing what I was doing, and we'd sit there together drinking our coffee. He thought he was a big shot sitting there drinking coffee with dad."

By the Parnells' account, Jett was a well-loved, gentle kid who seems a stark contrast to authorities' characterization of him as a cold-hearted, would-be killer. Which is why the Parnells remain utterly baffled by the notion that he would try and have them murdered.

"When Jacob was in grade school, when he was first playing Pop Warner football, he was a defensive end, though he wasn't as good as he should have been," Richard said.

"I'd say, 'how come you don't knock [your opponents] down?' and he said he just didn't want to hit anybody because he didn't want to hurt anyone. So I finally made a deal with him. I told him 'every time you get through that offensive line and get to that quarterback, I'll give you $5.' That boy cost me maybe $35."

Fishing was another one of Jett's passions, the Parnells said. He and a friend "would go anywhere to fish."

"They didn't care if it was a drainage ditch. But anything they caught, they didn't want to kill so they would put the fish in a 5-gallon [jug] … and parade it all over town. They were always so proud of those fish they caught."

A playful and enthusiastic uncle to his brother Josh's four children, Jett delighted in goofing around with the kids, his parents said.

"He always wore a baseball cap over to the house and the kids would love to grab and it and go hide it," Jacob's biological brother Josh said. "He loved it. The minute he was in the door they'd be at that hat. It was like a hide-and-seek thing. We still have one of his caps over at the house that the kids took and hid on him. It was a big game for all of them."

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