I Am Jodi Arias’s Mother

This interview is the first time Sandy Arias has spoken publicly about her daughter Jodi Arias.

Sandra Dee Allen was born in 1958 in a small Northern California town. I love to call her Sandy Dee. It fits, somehow. I met Sandy at Jodi Arias’s sentencing trial, in September 2014. She is the fourth of seven children and the identical twin of her sister Susan. Sandy and Susan are so identical, including hairstyles, I find it difficult to tell them apart. But looks are where it ends. Sandy is painfully shy, and her sister is unfiltered and outgoing.

Sandy married Bill Arias when she was 22, and they had four children together. Two sons and two daughters. Jodi Ann was her first child. There are many versions of Jodi’s childhood, including Jodi’s own, a version told at both her trials, as well as many versions written in books about Jodi. Sandy describes Jodi’s childhood as normal and happy. Her closest playmate was her brother Carl, who is two years younger.

Jodi Arias © Sandy Arias
Jodi Arias © Sandy Arias

Jodi left home at 17 in a typical teenage rebellion phase and moved in for a short time with a boyfriend. She began working at what was to be a series of jobs over the next twenty years. She was ambitious and highly motivated to be financially independent.

She continued to live in different Northern California cities for several years. Jodi relocated to Southern California in mid-2000 and in 2007 she moved to Arizona.

During these years, Sandy’s relationship with Jodi was strained as Jodi struggled to find her identity and her place in the world. Jodi’s communication with Sandy was sporadic, fairly typical for a twenty-something-year-old out exploring the world. Sandy had two younger children at home to take care of—eleven years younger than Jodi, who needed Sandy’s attention.

Sandy knew that Jodi had a boyfriend in Arizona, but knew very few details of their relationship. At one point, when Jodi and her boyfriend were not getting along, Sandy drove down to Mesa to help Jodi move back home. By the time she arrived, the pair had reconciled. Not long afterward, in 2008, Jodi moved in with her grandparents. To this day, she remains very close to her grandmother.

When Jodi left on that fateful trip back to Arizona, her family was not surprised as she often traveled for the company where she worked. About one week later, Jodi returned home.

Sandy first heard of Jodi’s arrest when she received a call at work from her son Joey telling her that their home was surrounded by police cars. She then called her mother (Jodi’s grandmother), where Jodi was living and was informed that Jodi had been arrested.

DO: How is your life going since dedicating a year and a half to attending two trials every day over 1,000 miles from your home?
SA: I’m very glad to be back with my family. I’ve been trying to get our lives back on track. I just take life day-by-day. I had to give up my job of 17 years and leave my family for long periods of time to support my daughter during her trials. Since I’ve been home, I recently started a new job in the same field. Everything still feels very unreal to me. I don’t believe our lives will ever be the same again. As I’ve said many times, “Don’t ever say this can’t happen to me.”

DO: Have you been able to visit Jodi at Perryville Prison? How is her attitude?
SA: Yes, I’ve visited her twice at Perryville Prison. On the first visit, I brought her 82-year-old grandmother to see her—someone Jodi is very close to. It was a bittersweet visit because my mother has terminal cancer and probably won’t see Jodi again.

Jodi is always happy to see us. She is the type of person who is constantly cheerful. She has many projects going on all at the same time. Currently, she is organizing a library for the unit she’s housed in and is busy asking all of her friends for books to help her stock up the library for fellow inmates in the Lumley Unit.

DO: Has your family suffered any shaming or difficulties as a result of the crime or trials?
SA: Our friends and family have supported us and have been there for us from the beginning. The only shaming we know of has occurred indirectly online from people who do not know us.

DO: How has Jodi’s notoriety affected your three other children?
SA: My daughter Angela has really been affected the most. She has been bullied online, but she’s headstrong and stands up to anyone to defend her sister. Angela was very close to Jodi. She was her go-to person when she had a problem or needed to talk. Now, she’s not there for her. This has been tough for her to lose her older sister and confidant. Jodi was not present for Angela’s important life events—her wedding and the birth of her daughter. It’s been difficult for the sisters to rebuild their closeness and maintain a relationship.

With her brothers, it’s different. Her younger brother Joey was 16, and Jodi had already left home when she was arrested. He was not very close to Jodi as he was so much younger. With Carl, who is two years younger than Jodi, at first, he felt Jodi created her own problem and was responsible for her own actions. He wasn’t emotionally involved compared to Angela.

DO: How did you deal with all of the public attention you received, especially with people saying negative things about your daughter in the media?
SA: I am naturally a very shy person and uncomfortable with attention. I never responded to any requests from the media for interviews. I felt it was inappropriate and also might be interpreted as disrespectful to everyone involved, including the victim’s family. In the end, there were many victims as a result of this tragedy, including the loss of my daughter. I dealt with the attention by the comfort and support of my family and friends.

DO: Do you believe there are justice and mercy in the judicial system process?
SA: Unless you have been through a trial, you don’t really know or understand the complexities involved. Many of the stages we knew nothing about, and because we were dependent on public defenders, often, parts of the trial were explained to us, including motions, jury selection, and alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Some days we learned more from Jodi’s mitigation specialist than her lead public defender. I do believe in mercy, but I do not believe it is always applied fairly in the judicial system.

DO: Do you have any advice to mothers who may have a child in jail or prison?
SA: I would encourage mothers, or any family members, to be supportive and let them know that you care about them. No matter what. I believe that love should be unconditional. For me, this experience has been the ultimate test of a mother’s love.

DO: In closing, is there anything you would like to say?
SA: I am a mom–just like any other mom. I did the best job I could raising my children. My mother once told me that parenting ends at a certain age, and beyond that, children act of their own accord. I do not feel responsible for Jodi’s actions, but that doesn’t mean she does not have my complete love and support. Always, unconditionally, for the rest of her life.

Photo: ©Sandy Arias All Rights Reserved

  1. I just read through Herr Speight‘s article – it‘s easy to see that it‘s nothing but childish nonsense and honestly, bringing this up shows a lack of respect for the victims.

    Doriowen pronounced sympathy with the victims family – so I hope she will delete your comments regarding this ridiculous conspiracy theory.

  2. It was actually the shocking number of stab wounds that caused me to give some credence to Herr Speights theory that she was being attacked from the front, and then stabbed hysterically. Was her state of mind cold and calculating or hysterical and fearful? I would still call it murder, but it is very exceptional to see this scale of violence, from a girl with no record. It is just very odd.

    Many years ago, I was tacked by a guy who outweighed me by about 100 lbs, and was angry, and said: “I’m gonna kill you.” It is incredibly frightening.

    I was so impressed with the sensitivity and kindness of Dori Owen, and one cannot but feel sympathy for Jodi’s Mother and her entire family.

  3. Sad. Travis’s character was on trial, and he couldn’t defend himself. I don’t see any triangulation…29 stab wounds, gun shot, and near capatation is black-and-white. Yes- it is called MURDERER and VICTIM. Too much technological evidence for her to have ever gotten off…..but sadly, if this was 25 years ago…she would have had a decent chance.

  4. Amazing interview, Dori.
    How did you manage to get this interview? I’m intrigued.
    What I find the most fascinating is observing these individuals, whom have been
    considered monsters, in the media, as human.

  5. Kate, I agree completely. And I can’t even begin to fathom the pain of the Alexander family. I pray everyone can find healing and peace. Thank you for your comment–D.

  6. It is obvious that she killed him, but after reading the analysis of an expert knife fighter, (GOOGLE Herr Speights, Jodi Arias Innocent), I have reasonable doubts as to whether she was frantically stabbing a big guy high on drugs who was at that moment, a danger to her life, or not. If you draw an equilateral triangle, label one side murder, the second side manslaughter, and the third side, self-defense, and then you look at the evidence, you cannot place it definitively on one line. It is somewhere inside the triangle.

    She had no previous record, and, in the absence of the “witch hunt” mentality surrounding her trial, coupled with a better defense, she could have gotten off. She is capable of deception and is no angel, but her character is not on trial.

  7. I am convinced she is guilty, that much is obvious.
    However her family have done nothing wrong and understandably defend her. When you love someone you can be blind to their faults no matter how large they are. So shame on anyone online who has bullied the family. They are suffering too. Maybe not like the Alexander’s suffered. But they do suffer. They did not murder anyone, the only person responsible for this was Jodi. Not her family or anyone else. I have nothing but compassion for both families in this sad horrendous case.

  8. Our replies are becoming one word lines, LOL. No, I haven’t read Iceman. Didn’t think I could stomach it. Follow me on Twitter, LOL….more space! And I really want to send you FC’s book.

  9. Dont worry, I had zero inclination to go anywhere near either of those senseless murder of trees lol. I already heard the prosecutions bs live I dont need a transcript haha and I heard Nurmi himself on a talk show announcing his book was the harrowing tale of his victimization by his client and miraculous survival, you might say it wasn’t going on my reading list either haha. Funny thing is I probably would have grabbed that book if I hadn’t heard him describe it on tv. The guy convinced me in 5 minutes to avoid his own book I was going to buy, guess its not too shocking he couldn’t argue successfully for his client.
    One of my mentors in management taught me if you keep telling your employees the same thing and they collectively continue to ignore it, the problem isn’t them, you need to rethink how your delivering the message.
    This idea that a defense attorney whose client is on trial for her life held him captive and powerless to escape is ABSURD. His job is to act on her behalf where she is powerless to to act for herself.
    If Jodi was being difficult her lawyer should have the skill set to say “hm, some aspect of this is not working for her, I need to identify what parts of our case aren’t working for her and adjust accordingly. ”
    Wow, I didnt mean to write that much lol, just get heated about this stuff.
    I’ll order that book you mentioned today, I live in SoCal so I always like stuff around LA, etc!
    I’m in for a book club, I’m dying to be turned on to new books and discuss! I read Iceman a ways back, about the famous mob assassin. It was really good however it left me feeling somewhat hollow afterwards. Seeing things through that guys eyes was almost too bleak an experience for me. Its a testament to how great its written, there was simply nothing life affirming for me from the experience. Have you read it? If so I’m really interested to hear your experience reading it!

  10. Excellent library, Gerald! I’ve read them all except for Mindhunter, which I just ordered on Amazon, based on your recommend. Looks great. Ages ago I read Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter. I was young and had just moved to LA. Big mistake! I was petrified for weeks. I’ve also read both Jodi’s PD and prosecutor’s books. Save your money. I can’t believe her PD hasn’t been sanctioned by the AZ bar in some way for the vile trash he wrote. It was a self-published revenge piece on how horrible Jodi and her family are. On the flip side, the prosecutor published a book through Harper Collins written by a ghostwriter that’s merely a rehash of court transcripts. I’m wondering which will hit the $1 bargain table first. Now Baez had something to say…..at least. They had two completely different clients, so that’s hard to compare.

    I do have a fairly new interesting book. “Ghettoside” by Jill Leovy. She’s a former LATimes reporter who follows an LAPD homicide cop and writes not only about the bias of homicides in LA, but in America as well. Good read.

    You should follow me on Twitter. I think the link is on my bio, but it’s @doriowen. DM me your address and I’ll send you Feminine Collective’s Anthology Vol I. You will LOVE it!

    We can start a true crime book review, LOL


  11. Thats an understatement for sure Carol, that we are having to have these conversations in 2016 is absolutely appalling. Humanity has made technological leaps in the past 50 years greater than the prior 18 centuries combined yet looking at behavior on the internet you’d think we had regressed socially to medieval times. I dont know what it says about humanity currently but it disturbs me to no end.

    Can you imagine gathering the great philosophers of history like Plato and Socrates, showing them the internet followed by how people have chosen to express themselves with it?! They would be speechless to say the least…..

  12. Actually I did read your first piece as well Dori, I liked it tremendously for similar reasons.

    I’ve developed an acute interest in True Crime as well, although the facts of the cases dont always answer my questions.

    Theres that interest in understanding the person involved, personal interest pieces like yours give us a window into people as human beings the statistics alone cant.

    Nancy Grace type pitchfork mob media desensitized the public en masse to the human element, we need as many voices as possible countering that. I’m looking forward to exploring the other writers on this site, its been a refreshing change of pace.

    Anyway my two absolute favorite True Crime books I’ve read are Mindhunter by John Douglas, the first modern FBI profiler and Presumed Guilty by Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s Attorney.

    When I was training and developing managers in my prior career I often gave them copies of Mindhunter because I learned SO MUCH PSYCHOLOGY from it I could apply as a manager.

    EVERYONE should read Presumed Guilty, everyone I’ve given it to ends up shocked at how many misconceptions they personally had when they weren’t even active following the case! The gross situation with the media is laid bare as well as the unethical ways our prosecutors are behaving unchecked.
    Baez personal story is also very inspiring, there are still honest people out there.

    Have you read either of those? Anyone reading this I cannot urge you to read those two books enough, check em out!

  13. You are so right, Carol. I see it, too. I’m so glad you found and read the story! I will definitely pass on your kind words to Sandy and Sue. ~D.

  14. Oh, I think you’ve nailed it here. I’m a true crime addict. Fascinated by the complex issues involved, especially if they are DP cases, as I’m very much anti-death penalty and support prison reform. But I’m interested in informed discussion, not raving rants on topical issues….so I tend to stay in small social media circles of like minds. I would love for you to read my first essay in this series and hear your take on it. There’s a link at the bottom of this story, or you can search under my name in Columns. It’s called, “Letter From An Arizona Jail….”

    I’m so glad you found Feminine Collective! When you look under columns, be sure to check out other authors. They’re amazing. We really are Real&Raw stories from real people!

    Best….. ~Dori

  15. Thank you for the kind words, I realized awhile ago I needed to divorce myself somewhat from social media for all the reasons you stated. I found myself constantly angry at the state of media and lack of perspective so many people have online. I have to believe there are plenty of people out there with reason, empathy, and dimensional thinking akin to my own that likely avoid social media and the plethora of negative aspects that consumes it.
    I followed jodis case as well as other high profile stories like many other people and these tragedies tend to create a desire to understand. Ironically we live in a time of unprecedented advancement in communication while regressing in our ability to have discourses of true value on subjects.
    I’ve bookmarked this site and look forward to its future content as I believe this piece was a prime example of worthwhile content that leads to greater perspectives on people in general.
    It constantly baffles me how we live in the first time in human history where everyone literally has access to the sum total of all human knowledge via the internet at their finger tips. You would never think that seeing peoples typical en masse proclivity towards witch hunts and mob mentality currently.
    I’m a strong believer that the internet is akin to any other technology, neither inherently bad or good. Its just another creation whose value is defined by how people choose to use it.
    Thats why it is SO IMPORTANT that forums like this one and content creators such as those herein continue to produce pieces of insight and thought, and readers support and participate proportionally.
    It all sounds easier said than done, however, because pieces like this interview require very subtle and complex deftness in execution, and that’s where I found this interview so well done. I cant pinpoint what exactly made it work so well, I simply know I finished it with a feeling of greater insight into the human element of this story. Thats how we grow and evolve as the human race in my opinion, and I feel fortunate to have discovered this site. The internet is slightly brighter to my eyes for it today!

  16. My goodness, Gerald. You may be one of the few people who understood the intent of this piece. Absolutely it was intended as human interest. Salacious crime and trial details have been seriously overwritten by zealots on both sides who do not know any of the people involved. It brings to mind ancient, bloodthirsty battles of Christian persecution. I have never understood the fascination, nor do I follow any of the social media fervor. It was a terrible crime, yes, and Sandy has always been respectful and empathetic to the victim’s family and their tragic loss.

    But this interview was only about one mother’s perspective in the aftermath of the trial. No more, no less. She is painfully shy, yet answered all of my questions thoughtfully and honestly. It is still, and will probably always be, very difficult for her to discuss.

    I really appreciate the time you took to write such a thoughtful comment. It means a lot to both me and Feminine Collective. Best regards… ~D.

  17. The misogyny evidenced in this Jodi Arias trial was astounding. New articles are now coming out about domestic violence that should give the online bullies pause, but it probably will not. My heart goes out to Sandy and Sue, both innocent victims of social media. Thank you.

  18. With a case that developed as much press as Jodi Arias’ did one might think there is nothing left to write about. Surprisingly however I found this piece and interview to be altogether touching, eye opening, and an all around great read.
    No matter what ones opinion may be on the case itself, it is so important for people to understand that these tragedies affect people, everyday people like any one of us. I thought this piece did a fantastic job of conveying a true sense of Sandy as simply a mom, no more and no less than any other mom. She is a human being like any other and I felt I could truly empathize with her after reading this.
    Todays media seems to rile people en masse to heights of judgement and adamant stances never before seen in the modern world. How refreshing it is to read a piece that circumvents all tabloidesque tripe and convey the simple, powerful truth that there are real everyday people affected by a tragedy, people who could be any one of us.
    If this is what “human interest” pieces are specifically, I believe our society would do well with a lot more of them and a lot less of the works we are inundated with.
    Kudos to the author and my heartfelt best wishes to Sandy and her family in the days to come.

  19. Hi D, thanks for the nice reply. I also wanted to add that I just wish the vindictiveness towards Sandy and Bill would just stop. People seem to forget or not care that their lives were turned upside down. please, pass on my well wishes to them both. Thanks again.

  20. What a beautiful sentiment, Linda. Thank you for reading the essay–and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment. D.

  21. Thank you for taking the time to read the interview, Dani. I am not a reporter, so that is why my questions to Sandy may not seem probing, or hard core. I am a special interest writer and I asked questions that I thought other mothers with children in prison, or with high notoriety, might be interested in hearing responses on from Sandy. Asking tough questions was not my intention, and I do not know the answers to your questions. I didn’t have a reason for using the word boyfriend, it’s just the way it was written. I’m glad you read the story, and I thank you for doing so. I would encourage you to read my blog on my friendship with Jodi. There’s a link at the end of this blog. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment and asking me your questions. Sorry I didn’t have answers for you. Best…..D.

  22. Thank you so much, Marilyn. I’ll pass your kind words on to Sandy. Thank you for taking the time to comment. D.

  23. Yes, Sondra, I do. Although it’s very different than Estrella Jail. I’ve never been to a prison before. Incredibly complex security, which included me having to pass a background check. Jodi can have one visit per week, so I’m on her visitor schedule along with family and friends. It took six months to get my paperwork approved, so I’ve only had one visit so far. But the nice part is that the visits are for three hours. Lots of time to chat! Thanks for reading and commenting…..D.

  24. Great article. However, I wish you had asked tougher questions. 1). does she (the mother ) feel that Jodi is 100% responsible for this? 2). What was (the mothers) first thought when she saw her daughter behind bars 3). What was her take on meeting the “boyfriend”. 4). How did the mother feel when Jodi stated that her mother beat her as a child… so on and so on. And I do have a question, I noticed you didn’t use his name “Travis” you referred to him as the “boyfriend”, is there a reason for that? Just a passing thought. All in all, good article. Thank you.

  25. Thank you, Cheryl.i appreciate you taking the time to comment. I will pass your kind words on to Sandy. D.

  26. As a mother of four grown children, I understand where my loyalty lies to them. Fortunately, I have not had to endure anything close to this. I do however believe that Jodi is solely responsible for her adult choices, and hopefully accepts her punishment from what she alone chose to do that day. Bless the Alexander family, and your family Sandy. Also, my condolences in the loss of your mother.

  27. I’ve always thought Sandy and Bill got a raw deal from the media. Not for one minute do I believe she ever condoned Jodi’s actions, I doubt she ever will. The obsession now is with Angela. People say the most disgusting things about her. As a mom, that would deeply disturb me that people would attack a girl they don’t even know. I can’t imagine how hard this is for Sandy, and Bill. Their lives will never be the same, that is for sure. I’m also sorry to hear about the loss of Sandy’s mom. I’m glad Sandy spoke out. Good for her. At the same time, I truly wish people could move on. Every single time any news comes out about Jodi, people are all over it like bees on honey. They need to let it go. Its over and done with. The past is the past.

    People claim that they don’t want to hear more about her, so why do they keep on talking about her then? Let it go. Move on. As for Sandy and Bill, and their family, well, I wish them all the best. I am glad they stay out of the spotlight. I hope they can live a peaceful, and quiet life without being stalked, or harassed. They don’t deserve the bad comments, and snotty attitudes from anyone. They really don’t. As for Jodi, well, she is where she is for a reason. She has to live with it, and deal with the outcome for the rest of her life. I just hope her family can live as normal a life as possible without paying for her actions. No matter who you support in this issue, well, I think its time to let it go, and let it rest. Let the Arias family live in peace, and quiet, and solitude, and move on with your own life. There’s more to life than being obsessed with someone who has done what she did. Time to move on. For everyone.

  28. Thank you, Rhonda, for such a thoughtful and caring response. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment. ~D.

  29. Thank you for reading the essay, George, and noting my inconsistencies. I appreciate it, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Good to hear from you. ~D.

  30. Thank you, Mike. And thank thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate it! ~D.

  31. Thank you, Pandora, as always, for being supportive of the Arias family and your ability to be so respectful to everyone–not easy! And I really want to thank you for being such a loyal supporter of my writing on all topics, it means so much to me! xoD.

  32. Thank you for this interview. I have wondered how the Arias family has fared in their home town. I am glad that the people of Yreka have been understanding towards the Arias family. Jodi’s family members are victims in this. Both families were injured when Travis was murdered.

    I want to thank Mrs. Arias for always being so respectful about the Alexander family and their loss. While Jodi’s aunt has been heartless, Mrs. Arias has been very respectful; I appreciate that.

  33. Thank you both, Dori and Sandy, for this article. It’s true that such a tragedy did affect so many lives. It brought out the worse from some and the best from others. It affected our lives even when we started following the trial as bystanders… ultimately becoming friends with Jodi and the family. I can’t imagine the pain and loss that Jodi’s family feels. The social shaming and shunning didn’t ‘break’ them though. They stood behind Jodi and have been strong, respectful, loving and caring. We all can learn a thing or two from this outstanding family!
    Dori, thank you for doing the interview. As always, your work is sterling. ♥
    Sandy, my respect for you is enormous. Through the hardest time of your life, you have been so graceful and kind. Not once did you ever exhibit any sort of callous character even though you and your family were often attacked and dragged through the mud. I admire you so much! ♥

  34. Thats so sad. The murder ruined or altered so many lives. Too bad it wasn’t stopped. I do feel bad for her mom. She was respectful to travis’ s family

  35. If she left home at 17 and was then arrested when she was 27, how could she have worked a series of odd jobs for 20 years? Her poor mom was as big a victim of her abuse as anyone. Sad that she can’t say anything.

  36. Rhonda Bartall- Dye

    Sandy, I get it. You did nothing wrong. We try doing the best for our Children. Sometimes they go wrong. Jodi made her own mind up to do what she did. She has to pay the price. I know it’s hard on the family. My Brother went down the wrong path too, but we will always stand by him. He is our family and we will always love him. We do not condone what he did….but we are there for him.

  37. Thank you for taking the time to read this, Lynn, and for taking the time to comment! ~D.

  38. Heart felt interview ….. a mother who will always share her love with your child. Stay strong, Sandy.

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