When Adelle Jensen went missing in 2015, her estranged boyfriend told her family she ran away and left behind their toddler-aged daughter.
After authorities found evidence she was dead, he told them she committed suicide.
For years it seemed as if Joshua Dow, 35, was going to get away with killing Jensen, whose body has never been recovered. He pleaded guilty in 2016 to interfering with her body and was set to be released from prison in February.
But Jensen’s family finally received some semblance of closure Wednesday when Dow, of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering Jensen, dismembering her body and disposing of her remains in dumpsters across north Minneapolis.
Jensen, whom friends and family called “Addie,” was 25.
“I thought that with his destruction of Addie’s body that there was no way that they could’ve proceeded” with a murder charge, her father, David Jensen, said after the sentencing. “And I am grateful, eternally grateful, that the homicide department kept up with the efforts and gathered enough evidence to make this happen.”
Jensen was killed on Nov. 18, 2015, several days after Dow had allegedly assaulted her, prompting her to move into her parents’ home along with her daughter.
It wasn’t until new evidence and witness accounts surfaced that Dow was charged this year in her murder. He pleaded guilty in November to second-degree unintentional murder.
The 20-year term was agreed on as part of Dow’s plea.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said in May that the murder charge became viable because of additional interviews with witnesses, new digital forensic evidence and statements Dow made to others in the past three years.
Dow researched garbage collection times, disposed of Jensen’s remains throughout north Minneapolis and threatened his brother’s and their mother’s life to coerce the brother’s cooperation with the coverup, according to the criminal complaint.
Police inspected 60 to 100 tons of garbage but were unable to find Jensen’s remains.
Jensen’s family called police, prosecutors, victim advocates, supporters and the witnesses “Addie’s angels.”
Before the sentence was handed down, Jensen’s family told the court she was a “loving, soulful, beautiful, kind” daughter, sister and mother.
“As a mother, I will never be completely whole again without my Addie,” said her mother, Cinda Jensen. “I miss her beautiful smile, our hugs and kisses every time we’d meet or say goodbye, and her big, deep, raspy laugh.”
Cinda Jensen said her granddaughter, whom she and her husband adopted, has begun asking about the circumstances around Jensen’s death.
“She asks, ‘Did mommy eat something that was bad?’ ” Cinda Jensen said. “Just for a moment, can you think of how this innocent question can rip your heart out? Think about the haunting truth she is going to have to learn some day.”
They recalled how Dow deceived them in 2015. Jensen’s family reported her missing three days after she had been shot and spent several days searching for her.
“He sent us — desperate and distraught — searching for clues to her whereabouts, and he used this time to dismember her and dispose of her like trash,” said Jensen’s older sister, Logan Giambruno. “He did not apologize. He did not shed a tear.”
According to the criminal complaint: Investigators learned from Dow’s brother that he was at the home he shared with Dow when he heard a single gunshot.
The brothers went for a drive and Dow told him Jensen had shot herself. Dow demanded his brother go along with the story that Jensen was missing.
“The Defendant pointed a gun at [his brother’s] head and told him he would shoot him and their mom if he did not cooperate,” the complaint said.
The brother told police they moved Jensen’s body to a warehouse in the 2500 block of N. 2nd Street in Minneapolis, where they worked. The brother brought police to the location, but Jensen’s body was gone.
Dow cried and apologized when he was given an opportunity to address the court Wednesday.
“Not a single day goes by that I don’t regret not doing the right thing right away,” Dow said. “Every single day I cry thinking about my daughter and Addie.”
Jensen’s parents said afterward that Dow’s statements didn’t address his crime and said his apology wasn’t sincere.
“The guy’s incapable of telling the truth,” David Jensen said. “He’ll say whatever he says to minimize his impact.”
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708