Florida Keys

Keys man tells police he killed his girlfriend. But then his story changed.

Jeremy Stigler
Jeremy Stigler

A Tavernier man accused of strangling to death his live-in girlfriend is scheduled to plead guilty to second-degree murder in September.

Jeremy Stigler, 45, killed Jade Green Dixon, who was 47, either on Nov. 7 or Nov. 6, 2016, inside Dixon's home on Atlantic Circle Drive. The Monroe County Medical Examiner determined Dixon died of "manual strangulation."

Stigler, who is 6 foot 1 and weighs more than 200 pounds, pleaded not guilty, and said he killed Dixon, who was 5 feet 2 inches tall, and weighed 120 pounds, in self defense.

But Stigler's attorney, Monroe assistant public defender Jerome Gilhooley, said in court Tuesday that his client will be ready to plead guilty and be sentenced at 11 a.m. Sept. 11. Monroe Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne did not want the details of the plea deal read into the record until sentencing.

On the morning of Nov. 7, 2016, Stigler turned himself in to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, telling deputies Dixon was dead and he was the one who killed her. But that same day, his story changed. He said he woke up that morning after a night of trying to protect Dixon from herself, only to find her dead.

Stigler told detectives that two days earlier, Dixon was acting erratically. He said he hit her in the neck to get a knife away from her, which he said she was holding to her throat. Stigler said he thought she was under the influence of illegal drugs, mixed in with her prescription medication. That Saturday night, police were called to the house.

Neighbors said at the time that Stigler and Dixon were loudly arguing outside the house and several deputies responded.

According to an arrest report from that night, deputies took Dixon to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier for evaluation at 11 p.m., and the hospital released her at 1 a.m. the next day, Nov. 6. She went home to Stigler.

Stigler told detectives that things were calm for about a half hour after Dixon arrived home. But then she grabbed another knife and held it to her stomach, according to statements Stigler gave detectives. He said Dixon lunged at him with the knife and he protected himself by punching her on the side of her face.

Dixon kept going for the knife, Stigler told detectives, and the only way he could stop her was by stepping on the center of her chest and kicking the weapon away from her.

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Crime-scene tape is tied around the Atlantic Circle Drive home of Jade Dixon, who was found dead inside the house by deputies on Nov. 7, 2016. David Goodhue dgoodhue@flkeysnews.com

Stigler said Dixon calmed down enough for him to put her to bed. He said he checked in on her periodically throughout the early morning hours. He fell asleep for about two hours and awoke to find Dixon "cold to the touch and unresponsive," Stigler told detectives.

"He stated: 'I knew she was dead,'" Detective Manuel Cuervo wrote in his report.

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Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detectives Manuel Cuervo and Dawn Augusto walk with a handcuffed Jeremy Stigler, who is accused of strangling to death his girlfriend, Jade Dixon, on Nov. 7, 2016. MCSO

Stigler said he was so distressed over his girlfriend's death that he tried committing suicide by swallowing 90 tablets of Valium and 2 milligrams of Xanax. Despite his efforts to end his life, he woke up the next day, Nov. 7, 2017. He told police he got into Dixon's 2004 Cadillac SRX and crashed it into several mailboxes and a fence on the couple's street.

Stigler left the car crashed into the fence and said he took a cab to a mile marker 88 gas station to buy beer. He then went to the house of his friend and construction business partner and told him what happened, according to his statement to police. The two men walked to the Plantation Key Sheriff's Office substation, where Stigler told police he killed Dixon.

But Cuervo wrote in his report that Stigler's timeline didn't add up.

Specifically, deputies responded to the crashed Cadillac at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6, not the morning of Nov. 7, and could not find Stigler. Given the inconsistency between when Stigler told police he crashed the car and when it actually happened, detectives believe Dixon may have died Nov. 6, 2016, instead of Nov. 7.

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