Overview of Jacob Landin
Jacob Jeremiah Landin was a sweet, happy, and silly little boy, who had a beautiful laugh. He was fearless and loved to play in his windup baby swing. He was born on July 1, 1986 to his parents Brenda and Gene Landin. Jacob had a brother, Eric, who was five years older than him, but he absolutely adored him. Jacob had his whole life ahead of him.
Jacob was only six months old when his parents separated, and his mother, Brenda, decided to move from Texas to Socorro, New Mexico and began seeing “John Doe”, who was a close friend to the family.
HEadlineHome Life Quickly Unravels In March 1987, a neighbor made an anonymous complaint to child protective services on John for being physically abusive towards Jacob. In early March 1987, Jacob was brought to the hospital after he got a scratch on his ear. The doctor determined that the injury was minor, and that he would recover. According to John, Eric had dropped Jacob on his head while trying to pick him up out of his crib. Eric was just five years old, and would’ve needed to climb on a chair to reach him , and Jacob was approximately 20 pounds at the time.
In other words, it was highly unlikely — or nearly impossible — for Eric to have caused this injury.
Approximately two weeks later, Jacob was brought to the hospital again after his grandmother, Merlinda, discovered a soft bump on Jacob’s head. This ‘soft bump’ would be diagnosed as a subdural hematoma which needed to be lanced and drained. Jacob stayed in the hospital for three days and had to wear a helmet and bandages as part of his recovery. He was released on March 17, 1987. Jacob’s older brother, Eric, was blamed for this injury, despite having no memory of causing it. John told Brenda that Eric kicked Jacob and was jealous of the baby. On March 18, 1987, Eric went to live with his father in California.
However,Jacob kept getting injured.
Even though it was now just Brenda, Jacob, and Brenda’s boyfriend in the home, she never witnessed her toddler get injured. She developed an uneasy feeling about the situation, and started to restrict John’s time with Jacob.
Following this incident, Jacob’s budding personality began to slowly change. Jacob loved to get picked up, but on one occasion, his grandmother picked him up, and he would cry. Jacob was only nine months old, therefore he couldn’t properly communicate what was happening to him. Jacob would develop ear infections and colds and would be fussy.
April 9, 1987
On the morning of April 9, 1987, Brenda brought Jacob to her mother’s home while she went to work at the local Supermart. Her shift was scheduled from 11:00 am to 7:30 p.m. Brenda had plans to look at another mobile home. Around 6:00 p.m., Merlinda called Brenda that she wanted to go to church, so she dropped Jacob off back at Brenda and John’s mobile home. Brenda wanted to leave work so she could watch Jacob, but her boss denied her request. While Brenda felt uncomfortable about Jacob being in John’s care, she figured it was only an hour and wanted to return home as soon as she could.
By 7:00 p.m., John showed up at Supermart and told Brenda that something happened to Jacob and that he wasn’t breathing. At the same time, an ambulance was en route to bring Jacob to a local hospital. When Jacob arrived at the hospital, he was in a comatose state. Due to the extent of Jacob’s injuries, doctors decided that Jacob had to be airlifted to another hospital for care located an hour away.
On the car ride to the hospital, John proceeds to tell the family that Jacob had fallen off the couch and hit the coffee table. John’s behavior was strange, like he was more concerned with himself than Jacob’s wellbeing.
Rushed to Emergency surgery
Upon arrival, Jacob is rushed to emergency surgery to repair a fresh skull fracture, likely the result of a blunt force object; possibly a wound from an open hand. In the early morning hours of April 10, 1987, Jacob died during the surgery. Later that day, an autopsy was performed. It was concluded that Jacob died of a subdural hematoma. Jacob's injuries were consistent with repeated episodes of child abuse. There was evidence of an old, previously healed subdural hematoma, as well as a partially healed skull fracture and a healing fracture of the 5th rib. Additionally, there was a slight trauma found on Jacob's bottom. The manner of death is undetermined.
During this same time, Eric and Gene, their biological father, flew home to New Mexico and learned of Jacob’s tragic death. The entire family was interviewed by the police. Eric recalled that John instructed him not to lie.
John’s story of what happened while Jacob was in his care changed several times.
If Jacob did hit the coffee table, that would have been considered ‘sharp force trauma’ not ‘blunt force trauma’. Ultimately, none of these stories aligned with Jacob’s injuries.
John consented to taking a polygraph test, but according to the police, John made a confession. There is no written or audio record of what he confessed to, aside from it being mentioned in the original report. No charges were filed despite the confession. In July 1987, John consents to another polygraph exam, where he admitted to not being truthful when he was originally interviewed. Additionally, the polygraph revealed that he was deceptive:
Q-33 Did you intentionally strike Jacob in the head area on April 9, 1987? Answer: No. Q-35 Did you intentionally strike the baby in the head area before he went limp? Answer: No.
He told Brenda that he passed the polygraph, in hopes of trying to get back into her life. John was working for the county and included Brenda on his health insurance, without her knowledge. They later got married to avoid insurance fraud issues, Brenda did not want to marry John, but he was exhibiting behaviors that could be considered manipulative and abusive. Not long after, John became increasingly abusive and violent. They were married for three years, and when she tried to leave, he would stalk and harass her.
Charges were filed in 1987, but it was later determined that there was not enough evidence to proceed with felony charges. In 2005, the family asked the district attorney to review Jacob’s case and wanted to prosecute the person responsible for Jacob’s death. Unfortunately, the DA denied the request. The case was closed, but the family was never informed.
Where the case stands today.
Jacob’s family is still actively seeking justice for Jacob. Eric is the host of the True Consequences podcast, where he advocates for Jacob and other cases throughout the state of New Mexico, with an emphasis on unsolved missing and murdered Indigenous cases. His family continues to advocate for legislation in New Mexico to create independent oversight to protect other children who experience child abuse.