The murder of Travis Alexander by Jodi Arias

Criminal Justice

The murder of Travis Alexander by Jodi Arias


This research paper covers the case of Jodi Arias and the murder of his ex boyfriend Travis Victor Alexander. The murder happened in his house in Mesa, Arizona and Arias was convicted of first degree murder on May 8, 2013 where he was sentenced to life prison. During the murder, Alexander sustained 27 knife wounds and a gunshot to the head. This case can be interpreted by feminist theory or social control theory. The aim of this research is to offer the background of the case as well as giving a perspective on the media involvement.


Media can have a great influence on the coverage of criminal cases as it influences the pre-trial and trail proceedings (Barcella, 2019). For instance, the media coverage can have effect on the witnesses who were supposed to in the trial. Arias Jodi case affected the life of the Juror who casted the vote that saved her from capital punishment. This led to the woman getting threats from various people globally who were Jodi’s opponents. This research paper discusses the case in details by offering the theoretical analysis as well as how the media influenced the case.

A description of the crime in its historical setting

Travis Alexander was a salesman from America and his ex girlfriend murdered him at his home in Mesa, Arizona. After Alexander broke up with Jodi Arias his ex girlfriend, he reportedly told his friends, “Don’t be surprised if one of these Sundays, I don’t show up and you find me dead someplace.” Alexander who was 30 years old had predicted his own murder after breaking up with Jodi Arias. On June 9, 2008, the police found Alexander harshly murdered in his Mesa, Arizona home (Barcella, 2019). His body had been stabbed 27 times with a slash across his throat and he had a bullet on his head with his body having decomposed for five days. Jodi Arias had initially lied and pleaded not guilty. However, she switched up her story after police discovered some images which portrayed a racy-turned-violent encounter between the ex couples a few hours before the death of Alexander.

Arias had lied to the police and had a fabricated false home invasion story to the media and finally agreed that she was the murderer after evidences were found. She explained that she committed the crime as a way of protecting herself. Her trial became rife with discrepancies and a national spectacle that was tied with of graphic images of sex and violence. According to Alexander’s close friend Sky Hughes, Arias would not let Alexander go even after Alexander felt that their relationship was not working out. Whenever Alexander tried to end the relationship, Arias would always threaten to kill herself and when he said he did not want anything to do with her, she would show up at his house (Kouri, 2015). There were instances where Arias hacked Alexander’s Facebook, slashed his tires and stalked him on outings when he would start dating other women.

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The prosecutors found out that Arias paid Alexander a visit at his home in Arizona on June 4th 2008 and she arrived unannounced although she insisted that Alexander had invited her. They made a sex tape together and took graphic sexual photos of one another which according to Arias, it was Alexander’s ideas. She stated, “He tied me up, (on) the bed. It’s not my favorite but it’s not unbearable.” A day later, Arias traveled to West Jordan to meet her other lover, Ryan Burns at his home. Burns testified that Arias had bandages on some of her fingers. Friends found Alexander’s remains of his body on in his shower on June 9th 2008. He has been shot in the head and his throat was slit having suffered 27 knife wounds overall. The hallway of the bathroom had Arias’ bloody palm print which led to Alexander’s friends immediately alerting the police (Minutaglio, 2018).

A theoretical analysis of the crime event

The actions of Aria are out of the ordinary and a feminist aspect can be used in examining her actions. The behaviors of Arias are not so unusual after all when they are examined from a feminist perspective.  According to Velez-Mitchell (2013), it is assumed that Arias might have been following a cultural trajectory as explained by a sociologist Rose Weitz. Rose explains that women are taught they cannot live their lives happily and fulfilled without having a husband who in most cases is superior to them in all levels. In this case, Arias might have been looking up to Alexander who was a successful man after all having had his own business. Moreover, most women just like Arias tend to know what they want in a man and they also mold themselves into the types their dream men would like.

A second issue that can be raised out of this issue is that her behavior is what usually happens to women when they are engaged in romantic relationships. According to Chodorow (1978), babies are attached to their mothers when they are born. However, as they grow older, they learn that they are separate individuals thus end up developing ego boundaries. As they develop, most of the girls want to be like their mothers and thus start playing gender roles and mothers are not frightened by such behavior. However, when they try to form an identity that is different from that of their mothers they may be faced with different types of problems. The ego boundaries of women are diffuse in most cases and they tend not to see themselves as separate from others. Overall, Chodorow theory can be used in explaining why Arias was “becoming” Alexander.

Nevertheless, the behaviors portray by Arias show that she might be suffering from some kind of mental disorder as they appear to be at extreme end of the continuum. In this regard, various studies have shown that different psychopathologies can be explained by the quest of a person to meet rigid gender rules and roles. Mary Pipher who is a psychologist explained that many girls began to develop psychopathologies during their teen years despite them being fine as children. Relating this aspect to the cultural rules for women, Pipher explains that girls are expected to follow harmful social directives as they move from childhood to adolescence (Adams, 2019). For instance, girls are under pressure when it comes to their physical appearances and they spend a lot of time trying to look perfect.

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Martinez (2016) asserts that social control theory can also be used in explaining the deviant behavior of Arias. After meeting Travis Alexander, she became involved with the Mormon Church and she was later found guilty of murdering him. She had already converted into a Mormon because she wanted to Travis to be more attracted to her and think highly of her since he was a Mormon and maybe he wanted to date a Mormon woman.

A description of media involvement and coverage of the case from investigation to disposition

The case of Travis and Arias was one of the cases that were saturated in the media. There were threats to the witnesses and allegations of legal misconduct as there was live broadcast globally from the courtroom. This led to judges, defense lawyers and prosecutors arguing about the amount of media coverage that should be allowed in a sentencing trial as well as the restrictions that should be put into place. To a large extent, all cameras are ban by federal courts when there are court proceedings. The courts in Arizona tend to have rules which are progressive in regards to accommodating media in courtrooms and there were possibilities of media and new camera rules being made effective thus making the Arizona courts more accommodating (Hogan, 2013). The provisions made were for courtrooms to allow multiple cameras and for the reporters to the spectators and reporters to use electronic devices in courtrooms. The judge determines whether TV cameras should be allowed and incase they are disruptive, they are banned.

During Arias first trial, the TV cameras were very disruptive as the trial groupies went to the courthouse to stalk the families and lawyers of the victim as well as the defendant. Some of the witnesses received death threats and they fled. This made the judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers worry how high profile trial can turn into a circus. The trial became the topic of discuss for at least four months in social media and television as it had an attractive female killer and an attractive male victim. Moreover, there was a sex tape as well as naked photographs, a host of muckraking network-TV personalities and a dramatic and charismatic prosecutor. It was also live streamed to millions of people globally (Barcella,2019).After the first trial, Arias’ defense lawyers started closing hearings to the public and the media and TV cameras were to be banned in the retrial although still cameras could be allowed.

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A perspective concerning the media effect on case outcomes

Jodi Arias was viewed as a high profile public figure. Her social media had many followers who are composed of admirers and detractors which include people who love or hate her. The high profile was due to a lot of news media coverage that her trail received over the years. Jodi’s reputation also affected the life of the Juror who casted the vote that saved her from capital punishment. This led to the woman getting threats from various people globally who were Jodi’s opponents. There were death threats in Twitter and Facebook where Juror received threats also against her family. Juror had made some comments during the Jury deliberations that lasted for some days (Minutaglio, 2018).

The society we are living in has various digital and broadcast media outlets that are always competing for stories in addition to gaining attention of oversaturated audiences. In the current world, the media mostly takes stories which are filled with beauty, violence, sex and scandals as a way of breaking through the clutter and becoming a global phenomenon. Most people believed that Jodi was found guilty of murder through the media even prior to her peers finding her guilty of the crime. The image of Jodi Arias that appeared on the media profile contradicted to the facts of the brutal crime she was charged with since it focused on her attractive appearance and was highly sensationalized (Kouri,2015). Her stylized public image was very different from the real Jodi Arias and people questioned if Arias manipulated or assisted the media in the creation of her public image and how it affected the outcome of her sentencing and trail. Jodi Arias had become a popular culture phenomenon and was eventually told that she would spend the rest of her life in prison. Despite all the hype in the media, Jodi was neither a fallen angel nor was she a monster. She was a convicted murderer who had taken on a criminal celebrity status and had gotten an immense following globally as a result of the severity of her crime, her demeanor and appearance which were all spun and stylized into a misrepresentation by the news media. This is mostly due to the advancement in technology in the society we are living in.


Adams, J. L. (2019). A rias, J odi. The Encyclopedia of Women and Crime, 1-1.

Barcella, L. (2019). A+E Networks UK. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from

Hogan, S. (2013). Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story: a Beautiful Photographer, Her Mormon Lover, and a Brutal Murder. Macmillan.

Kouri, K. (2015). The Jodi Arias Saga: A Tragic Opera. GEMS (Gender, Education, Music, and Society), the on-line journal of GRIME (Gender Research in Music Education)8(4).

Martinez, J. (2016). Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars. HarperCollins.

Minutaglio, R. (2018). Jodi Arias: A Look Back at the Murder That Landed the “Sex-Crazed” Photographer in Jail. Retrieved 5 April 2020, from

Velez-Mitchell, J. (2013). Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias. Harper Collins.

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