MANCHESTER, NH — Jennifer Clow, 51, was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the murder of her 72-year-old mother who she shot in the head two years ago as she slept in her bed inside her Goffstown home.
Clow pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder accusing her of recklessly causing her mother’s death when she shot her in the head.
Associate New Hampshire Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin asked Judge Diane Nicolosi, presiding at the hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District, to sentence Clow to 35 years to life saying the killing of veteran Sally Miller, 72, was deliberate and planned.
“If I could shoot her and get away with it, I would,” Clow wrote in a 2008 journal which police recovered in the search of the home she shared with her mother.
Public Defender Julian Jefferson said Clow is not the monster the state makes her out to be.
He asked the judge to sentence her to 11 years, saying to adopt the state’s recommendation would be essentially sentencing her to life in prison.
Clow received pre-trial credit of more than two years.
In an unusual move, Clow took the stand and, under questioning by Jefferson, spoke about her life, about her father sexually abusing her as a teen, her becoming anorexic and dropping down to 70 pounds before being treated at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.
Over the years, Clow struggled with depression and alcoholism. She hated her mother who took her father back because, her mother said, she couldn’t raise two daughters on her own.
She testified their relationship had its ups and downs. There were good times – each year they went to Las Vegas for a Jimmy Buffet concert and they had traveled to the Bahamas.
At the time of the murder, Clow was unemployed, her account was overdrawn and her car was about to be repossessed. She was drinking about a bottle of alcohol a day and taking medication for depression. She couldn’t hang onto a job.
She testified she couldn’t remember much about the night she killed her mother because she was drunk. At some time during the night, she got up and went and looked into her mother’s room.
“It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen,” she said.
Strelzin, however, said when Clow talked with investigators she clearly knew what happened.
He said Clow thought about killing her mother off and on for 11 years. She formalized a plan beginning in April when she ordered a 9mm handgun online and picked it up at Riley’s Sport Shop in Hooksett. In May she drove to Florida, she said to commit suicide. There, in the middle of nowhere, she test-fired the 9mm handgun.
She returned home after receiving an email on May 9 from her mother asking her to come home and saying the credit card still had $491 on it, enough to get her home. “I love you,” her mother wrote.
The day of the killing, Clow told investigators there had been no quarrel. Clow had polished off a bottle of rum and her mother had gone to bed around 9 p.m. About 11 p.m., armed with the 9 mm Ruger, she pressed the gun against her mother’s right temple while she was sleeping and pulled the trigger.
She started to leave the room when, standing at the doorway, she told investigators she heard what sounded like snoring. Blood was trickling from her mother’s mouth. She assumed her mother was partially alive, she told state police investigators.
“Sally died choking on her own blood,” Strelzin said. “We know that because the defendant said it sounded like snoring.”
After the killing, Clow stayed in the home for eight days. She covered her mother with blankets, because she was afraid she would start to smell, and sealed off the bedroom to keep the cats out. She got rid of evidence – a bullet casing and a washcloth she used to wipe her mother’s blood off the gun and to cleanse her hands. She also washed the pajamas she was wearing when she fired the gun.
Clow, who stole from her mother when she was alive, continued to steal from her in her death,
Strelzin said. She went online and, posing as her mother, asked for a credit card in her name.
Neighbor Donald Morris, who called police after not seeing his friend in a while, told investigators Miller told him Clow had stolen from her and she thought she was going to have to sell her home because she didn’t have any money left.
Once Clow received the credit card, she went shopping for new clothes at Kohl’s. In the days following the murder, Clow drove to Maine to visit her sister. She testified she went there because she had received a concerning text from her sister and was unable to reach her. Once in Maine, she took her sister grocery shopping and also went to the beach and a small amusement park.
She returned home and then sent her sister $1,000 cash.
“If she really intended to kill herself, she would have done that right after the murder but that really wasn’t the plan,” Strelzin said.
Strelzin maintained Clow prepared for a life on the run. She reserved a rental car and drove to the airport where she picked it up, leaving her car with its cracked windshield parked in the garage. She also removed the SIM card and battery from her cell phone because, she told investigators, she knew they could track her by her phone.
Police tracked her down by the credit card she used and arrested her on June 14, 2019, in Naples, Fla.
Clow cried a couple of times during the hearing. Once, when she testified that the plan was for her to die, not her mother.
She cried when her sister Elizabeth Damelio spoke, asking the judge to be lenient in the sentencing.
“The person who killed my mother is not the sister I thought I knew,” she said.