LINCOLN — Christine Bordeaux helped law enforcement authorities convict probably the most notorious brother-sister crime duo Nebraska has ever seen.
Now she has paid with flesh and bone.
Bordeaux, 42, was assaulted recently while serving time at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women near York.
Her assailant? Convicted killer Erica Jenkins, sources told The World-Herald. Jenkins was an accomplice in one of the four Omaha murders committed by her infamous brother, Nikko Jenkins.
Bordeaux suffered facial injuries and a broken arm as Erica Jenkins reportedly whaled on her with an improvised jailhouse weapon: a padlock in a sock.
And despite an obvious history of acrimony between the two women, they somehow were allowed to be in the same room together, giving Jenkins an easy shot at vengeance.
The incident raises potential implications for criminal prosecutions if inmates question the state’s ability to protect them after they’ve taken the witness stand.
“It’s not good,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said. “It’s frustrating when you have somebody who did the right thing, came forward. Then they let the bad guy have access to that person. Obviously what happened is very disturbing.”
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services declined to discuss the incident through its spokeswoman, Dawn-Renee Smith. She explained that state law prohibits prison officials from publicly releasing information about an inmate’s conduct.
But Smith said the department has policies in place to alert staff about keeping inmates separated when there is a high potential of violence between them. What’s called the central monitoring system relies, in part, on the inmates to flag staff about personal conflicts with other inmates when they come into a prison.
If necessary, male inmates can be housed in separate facilities. But the York facility is the only prison in Nebraska solely for women.
Kleine said the assault on Bordeaux needs to be fully investigated and, if there’s enough evidence, charges need to be filed.
An investigation is underway, and it’s being done by a certified law enforcement investigator employed by the Corrections Department. Prison officials did not ask the Nebraska State Patrol to handle the matter, said Deb Collins, the patrol’s spokeswoman.
York County Attorney Candace Bottorf said late Friday that she had not yet received reports on the incident, which sources said occurred on Sept. 24. Bottorf declined to discuss details of the attack, but she did confirm that the department’s investigator had spoken to Kleine’s office.
“It might be time to look into transferring her out of state,” the prosecutor said, referring to Jenkins.
Nebraska does have agreements with other states for the exchange of inmates, Smith said. But an inmate must agree to such a transfer before it can occur, she added.
Jenkins, 26, is serving a life term for the Aug. 19, 2013, shooting death of Curtis Bradford. She and her brother killed Bradford after luring him out under the pretext of committing a robbery.
Eight days earlier, Jenkins and Bordeaux, who are cousins, used the lure of sex to get two men to Spring Lake Park. Once there, Nikko Jenkins used a shotgun to execute Juan Uribe-Pena and Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz.
Later Bordeaux admitted her role, saying she did not know that her cousin would kill the men. She also testified against Erica Jenkins, which led to a pair of robbery convictions and an additional 40 to 60 years tacked on to Erica Jenkins’ life sentence.
Bordeaux also was prepared to testify against Nikko Jenkins before he pleaded no contest to four counts of first-degree murder. He is now awaiting a death penalty hearing set to take place next month.
Erica Jenkins did assault guards while she was held at the Douglas County Jail awaiting resolution of her various criminal cases. Records show that she has been convicted of three such assaults.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux was sentenced to a combined 20 years for criminal conspiracy and attempted robbery. In March, she arrived at the prison in York, where Jenkins has been housed since November 2014.
Mike Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Association of Public Employees, said he was told by prison staffers that the assault involved a padlock inside a sock. It’s a common prison weapon, he said, because inmates are issued padlocks for their lockers.
Marvin also said he was told that the two inmates had been put in the same room.
Marshall Lux, the state ombudsman, said he also was told by sources inside the Corrections Department that the assault had occurred. Lux, who frequently investigates complaints from inmates or their family members, said he could not recall another incident in which a lock in a sock was wielded by a female inmate.
“It does raise some policy implications for York,” Lux said. “Assuming it happened that way, it would be very unusual for the women’s prison.”
The Corrections Department has two certified law enforcement investigators who frequently handle inmate-on-inmate assaults. Their reports are turned over to county attorneys, who decide whether to file criminal charges.
The department’s investigators work closely with the State Patrol, said Smith, the Corrections Department spokeswoman.
Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle also helped prosecute Erica Jenkins. Beadle said she was told that Bordeaux suffered a broken arm, among other injuries. “They were trying to get (Bordeaux) to recant,” Beadle said. “She wouldn’t do it.”
Kleine and Beadle both said they were shocked, confused, even “horrified” as to how the two cousins could be housed anywhere near each other. While Bordeaux was awaiting court hearings in Douglas County she was kept separate from those in her family against whom she was testifying.
“It’s hard to understand how this could happen,” Kleine said. “Certainly we did everything we could prior to trial to make sure there wasn’t any contact. You’d think that when they go down to (York) they would keep them separate.”
World-Herald staff writers Todd Cooper and Paul Hammel contributed to this report.