HomeJeff Pelley: The 17-year old Culprit behind Prom Night Murders

Jeff Pelley: The 17-year old Culprit behind Prom Night Murders

Do you remember your first prom night?

From teenagers to adults, everyone cherishes their first prom nights. Dressing up well, smelling good, and dancing with your favorite senior is one of the most cherishing memories for teenagers. They would do everything to make their prom a night to remember. But do you know a teenager had gone far away to attend his senior dance?

In 1989, detectives in Lakeville, Indiana, discovered that a 17-year-old boy named Jeff Pelly had killed his family to make his prom night perfect. The crime became known as the Prom Night Murders.

Here’s everything to know about this case.

Jeff Pelley Shot His Four Family Members

On Sunday, after the prom night in 1989, Jeff’s father, pastor at Lakeville’s Olive Branch Church, did not show up for morning service. After wondering about his absence, a few parishioners unnerved by the darkened windows to the church parsonage reached there with their master keys. They unlocked the door only to find the Reverend Robert Pelley was lying down with two bullet holes in his body.


His wife, Donna, was found entwined with the bodies of their two young daughters, Janel and Jolene. Police determined that all the four members were shot with a shotgun at a close range. They also discovered that the gun was found missing from the family’s gun rack.

More Children of the Family Were Missing 

The crime scene only had the two daughters of the Pelleys. Three more children, Jacque, Jessica, and Jeff, were also missing. While Jacque was found out of town at church camp, Jessica returned from a friend’s house after a sleepover. It was also found that the eldest son, Jeff, attended the LaVille High School prom a night before his parents and siblings were murdered.

Police found Jeff taking rides at an amusement park near Chicago and became suspicious.

The Investigators Found the Truth

Within a few hours of research and investigation, the investigators reportedly learned that Robert had restricted his son’s activities on prom night and punished him because Jeff was caught stealing some money and CDs from a nearby home. Robert also insisted that if Jeff wanted to attend the prom, he must be driven there by him.

This humiliation prompted the son to take the life of his father, stepmother, and two step-sisters. Consequently, Jeff shot them 20 minutes before going to the prom.

It Took the Authorities 13 years to Arrest Jeff

The authorities suspected Jeff of all the murders in the Pelley family from the very start. But it took them another 13 years to arrest him for the same. He wasn’t charged for the crime until 2002.

In 2006, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to 160 years in prison. Soon after, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in 2008. However, the Supreme Court upheld it again a year later.

Surprisingly, Pelley maintains his innocence and claims he hasn’t killed his family.

Where is Jeff Pelley Now?

Jeff Pelley is now 50. He is getting a chance to present new evidence on his behalf first time since 2009 hearing. His legal team will try to prove the prosecution misrepresented the evidence and that his previous attorneys mishandled the case.

Keep in touch for more.

A content-writer who writes a lot about Lifestyle. You will see me reading a book or listening to Nirvana in my free time.


  1. The name of Pelley’s wife was Dawn, not Donna. She was a high school classmate of mine in Michigan (and oddly enough, the Prom Queen herself of our 1975 class)….

  2. Why is this man ( Jeffrey Pelley) walking around? He killed FOUR people for no good reason. He should be executed. Time and time again, criminals who have raped and murdered get out of jail and offend again, and yet a woman who was brutalized by her husband for thirty years, and kills him, gets life in prison.

    • Look into Robert pelly past with phil holly and Toni bealer and then you’ll understand this man is innocent … listen to counter clock season 3

      • Ive said from the time it happened that Jeff was NOT GUILTY. Only if he were to tell me face to face that he was guilty would I believe it. God bless him thru this mess.


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