Jennifer Denton, 37, has been sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison after entering a guilty plea in connection with the death of her blind and diabetic husband Wade Denton and the couple’s two dogs, a Great Pyrenees named Daniel and a hound dog named Duke.
The decomposed bodies of all three were discovered Nov. 20, 2017 in a trailer at 4112 E. 19th Ave. that the couple had rented for several years, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case. The bodies were found by someone who had been asked to check on the property owner by its owner, Oklahoma City Channel 9 reported.
The State Medical Examiner’s investigator reported that Wade’s body was extremely dry, indicating he had been dead for several months. He had been partially consumed by one or both of the dogs before they died.
Wade had no means of transportation or a phone he could have used to call for help, according to the charges filed.
Denton was arrested in Sayre on Nov. 28, 2017 and returned to Payne County where she was charged with one count of Neglect by Caretaker, one count of Financial Neglect by Caretaker and two counts of Cruelty to Animals.
She was taken into custody after meeting in her attorney’s office with an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, to whom she confirmed that she had been the sole caretaker of Wade, who was disabled and had no one else to bring him food and water or to bring food for the two dogs. The mobile home was relatively isolated, sitting on 2.5 acres tucked away in the trees at the end of a lane behind two other homes.
Denton told the OSBI that while she was with Wade she would never leave him alone for more than a few hours because he needed care.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Jennifer Denton said she had been responsible for paying the electric bill that would have ensured that the water well worked and that Wade would have access to heating and air conditioning. She told the OSBI that the water well had stopped working about six months before she left the residence, which would have left Wade without access to fresh, running water.
Denton initially told police she left the trailer on March 3 and never went back but later said she went back every few days to check on Wade through July 4.
She said she was accompanied by her boyfriend Ken Kilburn on those visits. Both Denton and Kilburn have multiple Facebook pages that feature numerous photos of the couple, who began making posts identifying each other as fiancé and fiancee beginning in March.
Kilburn told investigators that after Jennifer Denton left the mobile home in March, the couple lived in her vehicle and he was with her when she checked on Wade because he went where the car went.
Denton said she knew Wade and the dogs had no access to water and food or any way to get it from inside the trailer but she had not made any arrangements for anyone to bring them water or food after she stopped, according to the affidavit.
She admitted to continuing to use Wade’s $1120 monthly Social Security Income benefits through November 2017 and said she had used it to pay for Kilburn’s cell phone bill beginning when she was still living with Wade in February 2017.
The couple later moved to Sayre.
Kilburn told police he had asked her if she had made arrangements to care for Wade and he continued to ask Denton if Wade was still ok with her using his SSI money. He said she had assured him everything was fine and a friend was taking care of Wade. He said that when they returned to Stillwater in October 2017, Denton had told him Wade was living with a friend.
Payne County Deputy Rockford Brown stated in his affidavit for a search warrant that the friend Denton initially said she had left Wade in the care of was contacted and he told Brown that he had not spoken with either Jennifer or Wade in more than three years. The friend said he had never been contacted by Jennifer to care for Wade and didn’t know where they lived.
Bond was set for Denton at $40,000 but she remained in the Payne County Jail throughout her proceedings. Her court-appointed attorney notified the court in September that she would be undergoing mental health evaluations.
Denton was set for a jury trial beginning on Jan. 29 but instead entered a guilty plea on Jan. 2.
In the summary of facts attached to her plea, she stated that she is under treatment for mental illness and takes medication for Bipolar disorder and anxiety.
Although her sentences total 30 years, Denton will not be incarcerated for that amount of time. She will serve two 10-year sentences concurrently for the neglect charges and two five-year sentences consecutively for the animal cruelty charges. The first of the five-year sentences will will begin after the concurrent 10-year sentences have been served.
Denton’s charges do not require her to serve 85 percent of her sentence and she will get credit for time served in the Payne County Jail while awaiting trial.