SALT LAKE CITY — The children of Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte have not been told their mother is accused of killing a guard to help her new husband escape from custody in Tennessee, the woman's ex-husband said.
"She was a wonderful person. A very loving, caring person," Eli Gourdin said Wednesday night from his Smithfield home. "She loves the children dearly. She was just a wonderful mother and wife."
Jennifer Hyatte, who lived in Utah until about four years ago, is believed to have ambushed two guards as they were leading George Hyatte from a courthouse hearing, fatally shooting one, and then speeding away with her husband. The couple were captured Wednesday night at a Columbus, Ohio, motel.
Hyatte and Gourdin met while students at West Jordan High School, married in the fall of 1992 and had three children.
The pair divorced in 2000 but talked once or twice a week on the phone, Gourdin told the Deseret Morning News. The last time Gourdin heard from Hyatte was Monday, when she told him how excited she was that George, her husband of three months, was going to be released.
"We don't know George, we can't judge George," said Gourdin's current wife, Katie. "You know, we've never met him. We only know what Jennifer's told us. She's very much in love with him."
Hyatte's three children, who were with Eli and Katie for the summer, had not heard about what happened to their mother. Jennifer had full custody of the kids, the oldest of which is 12 years old.
The last time the children saw Hyatte was in June, while visiting her family in Tennessee.
"I wanted to wait until there was some finality to it before I told the kids," Gourdin said. "She'd called them regularly, they had called her, she was still being a mother. So for this to happen, it was just like way out of context.
"I wish I knew why she did it," he said. "I wished I knew why so I could tell the kids, because that's going to be their biggest question, and I don't have the answer. I wish that somehow, I could talk to her and find out why."
Although the children, along with Eli and Katie, had never met George, they had all talked to him on the phone. Gourdin said, "He seemed like a great guy."