Investigation Discovery’s ‘Vengeance: Killer Newlyweds: The Boy Is Mine’ features how three people plotted to murder a 17-year-old teen, Jenna Nannetti, in Livermore, California, in early October 2002. Initially considered a missing person, the authorities launched a homicide investigation after her badly decomposed remains were found in late October 2002. However, the only clue they had was a strange voicemail she had left for her father until an unexpected twist and confession cracked the case wide open five months later.
How Did Jenna Nannetti Die?
A fire erupted in the parking lot of Mountain House Bar on the rural outskirts of Alameda County, California, at approximately 2:00 am on October 7, 2002. A vigilant motorist spotted the flames and promptly dialed 911. Law enforcement arrived after fire personnel had brought the blaze under control. The source of the fire was specified as an old blue Mustang, which had been completely incinerated, including its tires. Upon examining the partially burnt license plate, officers traced it back to Linda Lou Nannetti, a senior Livermore resident.
When contacted, the concerned grandmother informed authorities that the vehicle was a wedding gift to Jenna Nannetti, her 17-year-old granddaughter. She recounted the teen had left on the October 6 evening to meet with her husband. Despite attempts to contact her, the police could not reach Jenna, as all their messages went to her voicemail. Jenna Nacole Nannetti was born to Jim J. Nannetti and Bobbie Nigro in Livermore in Alameda County, California, on March 5, 1985. The show revealed that she faced a challenging upbringing.
Marked by her father’s frequent incarceration, her mother entrusted Jenna’s custody to the grandparents. Despite her tumultuous background, she attended a continuation school—an alternative for students not attending a comprehensive high school—and even graduated a year ahead of schedule. As she approached the end of her schooling, the 17-year-old encountered Michael Joseph Simons, a 20-year-old Livermore native, on campus in late 2001 or early 2002. The couple married in June 2002 after a whirlwind six-month romance.
Michael moved in with Jenna in her grandmother’s residence to save up until they could afford a place of their own. Hence, it was shocking when the teen went missing after four months of their marriage. A fisherman eventually found her badly decomposed body on Lower Jones Island in Holt, near Stockton, on October 19. Her autopsy determined she had died from at least two shotgun wounds to her chest. The body was in such an advancing degraded state that the medical examiner had to utilize dental records to identify it as Jenna’s.
Who Killed Jenna Nannetti?
Very early on in the investigation, the authorities suspected Michael was involved in his newlywed bride’s murder. When they had deemed her a missing person and talked with Jenna’s father, Jim played a strange voicemail message his daughter had left for him on the evening of October 6. Michael had grown up under his aunt’s care and had a history of legal issues involving automobile theft. He was sent to an alternative residential school but returned to Livermore at 18, securing a job washing and detailing cars at a local dealership.
Jim told the police that Jenna’s and Michael’s relationship had gone sideways within a month of their wedding. The newlywed groom had even moved on and started living with another teen, Katherine Belflower. While all the circumstantial evidence pointed toward Michael’s probable involvement, the investigators had no physical proof tying him to the crime. The authorities offered a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. But, the case seemed to grow cold until an unexpected breakthrough cracked it open in late February 2003.
East Bay Regional Park District Police Officer Tim Philipps was on his routine patrol route when he noticed two people — Jeffery Hamilton and Katherine Belflower — trying to strangle an intoxicated woman in a remote area of Mendenhall Road, just off Del Valle Road on February 28. The victim was identified as Aspen Lum and was rushed to a hospital, where she survived her injuries. Meanwhile, Jeffery and Katherine were detained and questioned when the former claimed he knew how Michael killed Jenna, with him also being involved.
According to court records, Linda acquired a $50,000 insurance policy with Jenna as the beneficiary to finance her college education. Michael thought he was the sole beneficiary of Jenna’s insurance and concocted a heinous plot to get the payout. He desired a divorce within a month of the marriage. When Jenna refused to sign the papers, he became verbally abusive, making threats. Subsequently, Michael and Jenna separated, and he moved in with Katherine, engaging in a romantic relationship. However, Jenna kept persuading Michael to return.
Michael and Katherine perfected their murder plan together by September 2002 as they desired to purchase a home with the insurance payout. However, they required a vehicle for their plot to succeed, and they enlisted Jeffery’s help as the latter had a Dodge Neon they wanted to utilize. In return, they offered Jeffery a place to stay in their “future home.” Around a week before the murder, Katherine regained a Remington shotgun she had previously donated, while Michael purchased six or seven boxes of ammunition
The plan involved assaulting Jenna with a bat and then taking her to a location known as Whiskey Slough, where Michael would use the shotgun to kill her. According to their plot, he lured Jenna to Katherine’s house under the guise of discussing their relationship on October 6, 2002. A staged altercation occurred, where Katherine hit Jenna in the head with a bat, causing severe injury. It was then that she left a voicemail to her father, asking for help and claiming she had been attacked. Michael offered to drive her home, and the bleeding teen consented.
While en route, Micahel convinced Jenna to go to Whiskey Slough with him to beat Katherine and take revenge. Meanwhile, Katherine and Jeffery were already waiting in the latter’s vehicle and handed the shotgun to Michael. He shot the unsuspecting Jenna once, and as his wife pleaded with him to let her go, he shot her again. Jeffrey claimed he had fired two more shots to ensure she was dead. After dragging the body behind some bushes, Michael and Katherine drove Jenna’s Mustang into the bar’s parking lot and set it on fire.
Where Is Michael Simons Now?
Michael and Katherine got engaged but broke up on Valentine’s Day 2003. Despite her stating she was pregnant with his child, Michael denied responsibility and started dating Aspen, then 16. Driven by jealousy, an enraged Katherine sought Jeffery’s help to dispose of Michael’s new lover, but the duo were arrested in the process. Based on Jeffery’s testimony and statements from witnesses, Michael was also arrested and charged with first-degree murder with special circumstances of lying in wait, arson, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Michael was convicted of all charges in October 2005 and was sentenced to an aggregate term of life without parole plus 25 years to life. Katherine, then 20, pled guilty to murder with the special circumstances of lying in wait, killing for financial gain, arson, and assault in late July 2005 and was sentenced to 25 years to life. Jeffrey, then 22, had also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in early 2005 and was sentenced to 15 years to life in 2008. Michael, now 41, is serving his sentence at the Mule Creek State Prison.