Janie Ballard Murder: Where are Leslie MacKool and Mike MacKool Now?

Image Credit: Robert Duran/Find a Grave

The episode titled ‘The Good Girl’ of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Seduced to Slay’ gives a detailed insight into the gruesome murder of Janie Ballard in 2003. She was still reeling from the loss of her husband when the 58-year-old was also taken from the world forever. In the initial stages, it appeared to be the consequence of a home invasion. However, as the investigators dug deeper into the case, some disturbing truth about the heinous crime was uncovered. In the episode, we get acquainted with the loved ones of Janie through interviews as well as get an in-depth account of the tragedy.

How Did Janie Ballard Die?

Janie Lee Connor Ballard was welcomed into the world by Renard and Barbara Connor in Bald Knob, Arkansas, on August 11, 1945. Besides the love of her parents, she also seemed to have shared a good relationship with her brothers, Neil and Danny, while growing up. Being a free-spirited woman, Janie had many friends who shared mutual care and respect with her. She also had an English bulldog named Gracie Mae, whom she loved dearly.

Upon coming of age, Janie got married to Lester Kenneth Ballard, and together they founded Shepherd’s Printing, Inc., a printing and engineering architectural supply company on West Market in Little Rock. A few years down the line, they gave birth to their one and only daughter, Leslie Jane. Since they owned a successful business, the pair were able to provide a pampered and lavish life to their child. However, they were more than content with living in a modest brick home on Cedar Hill Road.

On the side, Janie also helped organize the Cedar Hill Terrace Property Owners Association as well as the Neighborhood Crime Watch. As a resident of Pulaski County, she was also an avid member of the Master Gardeners Program. Everything seemed idyllic in the Ballards family household, but things changed when Janie lost her husband on August 19, 2003 — he was 69 at the time. The situation got from bad to worse when less than a month later, a friend of Janie’s, Holloway, went to check in on her.

When Holloway reached Janie’s house on the morning of September 13, 2003, she was shocked to find the body of her beloved friend, and that too, covered in blood. After the authorities rushed to the scene, they were able to determine that the 58-year-old woman’s throat was slit and her body had been stabbed more than 70 times. Their investigation even led to them finding one of her vehicles missing, along with a coin collection and some expensive pieces of jewelry.

Who Killed Janie Ballard?

Although the police initially considered Janie Ballard’s death to be a classic case of home invasion, Holloway was suspicious of foul play from a loved one. He insisted the investigators look into Janie’s daughter and her husband Mike and question them because he believed that they might have something to do with the brutal murder. He had this feeling because, in the days leading to her demise, Janie expressed her fear of getting killed by them for her money, or rather, the money that was passed onto her from Lester.

Given Leslie’s sheltered and fulfilling childhood, people had reasons not to suspect her. But it all went back to when Leslie met Mike MacKool, who was reportedly a criminal and con man. People around Leslie alleged that her entire personality shifted with the arrival of Mike in her life. She went against her parents and got married to him, souring things between the Ballard couple and their daughter. Taking advantage of Leslie’s familial wealth, Mike charged a ski vacation to the account of Shepherd’s Printing Inc. and even made her quit the job she enjoyed.

The sinister idea of getting rid of Janie allegedly birthed in the mind of Mike when he learned about the will that Leslie’s father left after he passed away. It stated that she would inherit all of her father’s estate if Janie also passed away within a month of his demise. The MacKools then weaved a plot to kill the matriarch; on the fateful day, Leslie dressed in dark clothes with a wig and black face paint and waited in the bushes outside her mother’s house. Soon, she caught Janie by surprise and knocked her down, stabbing her over 70 times.

After leaving a bloody mess, Leslie stole jewelry from the house as well as a priceless coin set that belonged to her late father. Then, changing into fresh clothes, she and Mike almost immediately drove to Hot Springs, only to return to the crime scene later when the police investigation started. Upon being interrogated by the authorities, Leslie confessed to what she and her husband had done to her mother, as pointed out by all the pieces of evidence. The couple was thus charged with the murder of Janie Ballard and the case got scheduled for a trial.

Where Are Leslie and Mike MacKool Now?

In the trial for the murder of Janie Ballard, the jury listened to the defense and the prosecution to return with a guilty verdict for Leslie Ballard, convicting her of capital murder and theft of property. In May 2004, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 60 months. As far as Mike MacKool’s sentence is concerned, he was also tried and convicted of first-degree murder and theft of property. However, he received a sentence of 40 years for the murder charge and 20 years for the theft charge, with both sentences to be served consecutively.

After her trial, Leslie divorced Mike and took back her family name. In March 2006, the latter appealed his sentencing, only to be denied by the court. Currently, he is held up behind bars in the Varner Unit on State Highway 388 in Gould, Arkansas. As for Leslie, she is serving her life imprisonment sentence at McPherson Unit at 302 Corrections Drive in Newport, Arkansas.

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