A Jackson, Wyo., man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the death of a Driggs woman who prosecutors say was carrying their unborn child.
Erik Martin Ohlson, 39, had an arraignment hearing Wednesday and is being held without bond. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 20.
The victim was identified as Jennifer S. Nalley, 39, one of the “godmothers” of modern women’s roller derby in the U.S. News of her death led to an online awareness campaign on domestic violence Thursday by fellow roller derby enthusiasts.
Family members discovered Nalley’s body with multiple gunshot wounds Tuesday at a residence outside Driggs, a release from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office said. Investigators recovered a gun near the scene that appeared to be the same caliber used in the shooting.
The investigation was turned over to the Idaho State Police on Tuesday.
Teton County Prosecutor Kathy Spitzer said it is believed Ohlson was the father of Nalley’s unborn child.
“He had seen the ultrasound and was well aware of the baby,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer said that Nalley and Ohlson were dating and that Nalley was 11 to 12 weeks along in her pregnancy. Friends of Nalley’s and court documents described the relationship as tumultuous.
Nalley was a brilliant, complicated and well-loved woman, according to those she knew.
She was a founder of Texas Rollergirls and modern women’s roller derby in general, a friend said. But she was also a scientist, studious mathematician and spunky genius who taught math and physics at The College of Health Care Professions in Austin, Texas, according to her Facebook page.
She moved to Driggs in November. Her LinkedIn profile listed puzzles, gardening, learning new things, skiing and punk rock among her many varied interests.
Manda Clair Jost said via Facebook that thousands in the roller derby community are mourning Nalley’s death. Clair Jost is currently in Chile but had seen skaters talking online about Nalley.
“The flat-track roller derby game you see played in every major city around the world now, and many smaller ones, started in Austin, Texas, around 2003,” Clair Jost said. “And Jennifer was one of the ‘godmothers’ of the sport.”
Nalley went by the alias “Pixie Tourette” when she was on skates. Outside the rink she put on a lab coat and studied mathematics, calculus-based physics and chemistry. Nalley had a bachelor’s from Texas State University in San Marcos, where she majored in physics and minored in mathematics.
“I mean, it was like her hobby. Deriving complex math equations, ones related to physics or astronomy or whatever,” Clair Jost said. “She is just a really sweet, smart, kind, playful, good-hearted person, and it’s mind-blowing to imagine anyone doing this to her.”
The Rollergirls’ account eulogized its founder in a post that had been shared more than 2,000 times by athletes and clubs as far away as Alaska and Ireland as of Thursday morning.
Some commented about the troubled relationship between Nalley and Ohlson.
“She had only come out to a few of us so recently. We had no idea that it had gotten so bad,” Julie Borshell wrote.
‘UNEXPECTED, UNLIKELY EXTREMES’
Nalley joined the Jackson Hole Juggernauts roller derby team when she moved to Idaho. The Juggernauts joined in grief with many others on social media, using the name Pixie Tourette.
“We are mourning the loss of our dear friend Pixie Tourette. She was the most oddly brilliant and wonderful person we’ve ever met. Fiercely loyal, wonderfully inviting — she lived life like we all should. She had no apologies for the unique, quirky, lovely soul that she was,” the post reads.
The group is hosting a memorial for Nalley on Saturday in Jackson.
“(She was) an astoundingly delightful woman of unexpected, unlikely extremes: both gorgeous and goofy, both brilliant and ditzy, both foul-mouthed and eloquent, both a math genius and punk-rocker. With the sweetest heart imaginable, who could fight like a badger and skate like the wind while telling you some arcane fact about the orbital trajectory of Neptune which was probably correct, and maybe even her own discovery just last night,” Clair Jost wrote.
She went on to describe Nalley, with her shock of platinum-blond hair that always seemed to stand up on end in photos.
“I will never forget her wildly rolling eyes, her crooked grin, her velvety voice (that sounded) like one too many cigarettes over 10 too many (Marlene) Dietrich films, her quirky tattoos, her fabulous taste in fashion, her hair the color of corn silk, her eyes as black as ink. ...”
But what Nalley is most remembered for is fostering roller derby and building it into the game that is played across the U.S. The rough, often bruise-inducing sport’s rules were first laid out by Nalley and other founders.
“Her skate name was, hands down, the most accurate possible reflection of her personality: a glamorous kewpie doll of a woman with a switchblade in her purse,” Clair Jost wrote.
Ohlson was involved in a single-vehicle crash at the intersection of West 2500 South and Idaho 33 on Tuesday morning and wound up in custody prior to the discovery of Nalley’s body. The accident occurred about 3 miles from Nalley’s home, sheriff’s officials said.
Spitzer said Ohlson was arrested under suspicion of DUI. She said a breathalyzer test came back with a reading of .24 blood alcohol content — three times the legal limit. He was charged with misdemeanor excessive DUI and possession of an open container.
According to court record, Ohlson intentionally rammed into a utility pole in what he later told investigators was a suicide attempt about 1:30 Tuesday morning.
Ohlson made statements to Teton County Sheriff’s Office deputies when he was arrested “that he had bigger problems (than) the DUI and crash.”
Idaho State Police Detective Matt Wall wrote in a probable cause affidavit that Ohlson told investigators he drove to Nalley’s cabin with a loaded .45-caliber Glock in his back pocket. He said he intended to scare Nalley.
Ohlson said he and Nalley “did not fight physically but both were emotionally destructive to each other through verbal exchanges and name calling,” court records show.
The affidavit also indicates that Ohlson walked away from the cabin intending to shoot himself, but was unable to go through with it and threw the pistol to the side of the road. Teton County Fire Department personnel found a pistol matching the one Ohlson described a short distance east of Nalley’s cabin, court records show.
Spitzer said Ohlson had no contact with local law enforcement prior to this incident.
“He’s been in the area for a few years but he’s lived in Florida and Maine. He seems to move around a lot,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer has not decided whether to pursue the death penalty.