Terry Dunford, 40, charged with first-degree murder of Jeanna Leslie, 49,
Leslie was found stabbed to death in her bathroom on Valentine's Day, nearly a week after she was last seen or heard from by anyone
She was a mother-of-four who had moved to Denver to be closer to her youngest kids and was known to be kind to strangers
Police recovered several bloody knives from her lost studio, along with Dunford's wallet containing his ID cards
Dunford is a US Navy veteran who had been struggling with bipolar disorder and substance abuse
He use to work as a certified addiction, anger management and domestic violence counselor at a Christian program in Hawaii
Police were overwhelmed by 'the smell of decomposition,' while neighbors described the stench wafting from the woman’s unit as ‘undeniable’
Published: 15:19 BST, 21 February 2018 | Updated: 22:01 BST, 21 February 2018
Police have arrested a homeless man who they say stabbed to death a mother-of-four and teacher who was helping him get back on his feet.
Terry Dunford, 40, is being held in the killing of Jeanna Leslie, 49.
The substitute teacher’s body was found in her loft apartment in downtown Denver overnight Tuesday after her ex-husband reported her missing.
Investigators say Leslie had been stabbed multiple times and that several knives with suspected blood on them were recovered from the crime scene, along with other evidence linking Dunford to the slaying.
No good deed... Denver vagrant Terry Dunford (left), 40, is accused of stabbing to death Jeanna Leslie, (right), 49, who was trying to help him get back on his feet
Grisly scene: Police went to the Rio Grande Lofts on Stout Street (pictured) to perform a welfare check on Leslie and found her decomposing body inside her blood-spattered unit
A law enforcement affidavit says Dunford’s wallet containing his Veterans Affairs ID card and other belongings were found in Leslie’s apartment at the Rio Grande Lofts.
Video surveillance showed the victim and suspect entering and leaving a liquor store together on February 7.
Leslie had relocated from San Antonio, Texas, to Denver in November 2017 to be closer to her two youngest children.
Before the move, she had taught high school English in Texas for 15 years.
Leslie settled into a studio apartment at the Rio Grande Lofts and quickly fell in love with her new city, writing about it on Facebook in glowing terms.
She was making a living driving for the ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft while trying to get back into teaching.
On February 13, Leslie's ex-husband called 911 to report her missing after the mother failed to pick up her teenage son and daughter for their basketball game.
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Educator: Leslie had taught high school English in Texas for 15 years. Living in Denver, she was working for Uber and Lyft
The 49-year-old was divorced and had four children: three daughters and a son (pictured years earlier with her children)
Police went to her third-floor apartment in the 1500 block of Stout Street shortly after midnight, broke down the locked door and were overwhelmed by 'the smell of decomposition,' according to the affidavit.
The victim’s body was discovered in the bathroom, where it had been rotting for six days.
She had been stabbed multiple times, and there was blood all over the carpet and the walls in the apartment.
The affidavit stated it appeared as if at some point someone had made an attempt to wipe off the bloodstains.
Investigators recovered several bloody kitchen knives and blood-spattered men's clothing.
There were two empty six-packs of Corona and Guinness beer inside the loft, reported The Denver Channel.
Police located a receipt from Champa Street Liquor store in the pocket of men's camouflage cargo pants.
The receipt was issued at 5.04pm on February 7, which was when Leslie last sent a text message or made a phone call.
Surveillance video from the liquor store showed Leslie in the store with a man sporting a goatee and camo cargo pants.
Newcomer: Leslie had only recently relocated from Texas to Denver and settled into this studio apartment. She posted photos of her new place on Facebook
Crime scene: After the killing, police found bloodstains all over the carpet and the walls
Family members say Dunford is bipolar and has been struggling with substance abuse
Detectives have not yet determined Leslie’s exact time of death, but her neighbor described the stench wafting from the woman’s unit as ‘undeniable,’ according to CBS Denver.
The investigation has uncovered that Leslie, who was known for her free spirit and kindness to strangers, was helping two homeless men get back on their feet.
At one point in time, Dunford worked as a certified addiction, anger management and domestic violence counselor at a Christian program in Hawaii
Her eldest daughter, Brittany Leslie, speculated that her mother could have bumped into Terry Dunford outside her apartment building, or somewhere else in the neighborhood in the last couple of weeks and took pity on him.
‘She was a very open person,’ Brittany told Fox 31. ‘She made friends with everyone.’
The daughter claimed that Dunford wanted to move into her loft with a friend, and when she refused to let them in, he sent her threatening messages.
At about 11pm Friday, police acting on a tip tracked down Dunford and arrested him on a charge of first-degree murder.
Dunford's family told 9NEWS he was a US Navy veteran who had been struggling with mental illness and substance abuse for many years.
According to the relatives, he has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder but they said he is also a sweet person who wrote poetry.
At one point in time, Dunford worked as a certified addiction, anger management and domestic violence counselor at a Christian program helping alcoholics in Hawaii.
Those who knew the mom (center) said she was free-spirited and kind to everyone
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