Jennifer Fulford, a 56-year-woman, was reported missing Sept. 27, 2019. Fulford worked as a nanny for the Berman family in Orange County, Florida. Earlier that day, around 11:40 AM, she’d called a contractor (Janet Grimm) who was scheduled to come to the house and told the contractor not to come. She said that something had happened to Berman’s son at school, and she needed to go pick up the boy immediately.
But at 2:30 PM, the boy still hadn’t been picked up, and that was his normal school dismissal time. In the seven years that Jennifer had been working for the Bermans, she’d never once before failed to pick up the kids immediately after school. Reid Berman then called Jennifer to ask why she hadn’t picked up the boy, but she did not pick up. And when Berman got from work that day, Jennifer was nowhere to be found. Her purse was found in a bathroom of the Berman home, but her wallet and cellphone were missing from the purse. At this point, Berman knew that something was very wrong, and called the police.
Berman also called Robert Fulford, Jennifer’s husband, to tell him that he couldn’t find Jennifer. Robert thought to check his bank accounts to see if she’d purchased anything, and noticed a suspicious ATM withdrawal of $300. Robert immediately reported this to police, who visited the ATM to look for surveillance footage. The footage showed that the person who withdrew the money was not Jennifer, but rather a strange old man who’d used Jennifer’s debit card to make the withdrawal.
Scott Nelson, surveillance footage from ATM
The man in the surveillance footage was eventually identified as Scott Nelson, a man with a long criminal history. He’d been in and out of prison for most of his life for various offenses, mostly robberies. In total, he’d spent over 20 years of his life in prison up to that point. He was eventually located and arrested in Jacksonville, FL. Scott confessed to murdering Jennifer Fulford, and he voluntarily gave them a detailed written confession.
In his confession, Nelson said that he’d decided that he would do a home invasion after losing his job, and he settled on the Berman house as his target. The night before, he’d actually scouted out the house and spied on Jennifer while she was working. Then on Sept. 27, he watched the house until he saw a package being delivered. Immediately after the package was delivered, he ran up to the door and rang the doorbell. Jennifer answered the door, and Nelson briefly pretended that he’d been the one to deliver the package before forcing his way into the house.
Jennifer screamed as he entered the house, but he immediately pulled out a knife and told her to sit on the floor. He bound her with zip ties. He then went upstairs to grab a comforter, wrapped Jennifer in the comforter, and loaded Jennifer into her own car. Scott drove the car to a nearby ATM and used Jennifer’s card to withdraw $300. He then drove Jennifer out to the vacant lot where she was eventually found. Finally, he forced her out into the field, wrapped her head in duct tape to prevent her from screaming, and stabbed her before leaving her to die.
Scott also claimed that he was responsible for 8 unsolved homicides, although it would be wise to be very skeptical of that. The trial of Scott Nelson began on Jun 24, 2019. The prosecutor for the case was Linda Drane Burdick. If that name sounds familiar, then it is probably because she was also one of the prosecutors for the Casey Anthony trial.
Linda Drane Burdick
The first and only witness called by the defense was Scott Nelson himself. He admitted that he was the one who’d killed Jennifer Fulford. But he also said that he was NOT responsible for her death. The person truly responsible for the death of Jennifer Fulford, he said, was actually a man named Julio Dominguez! *GASP*
He explained that Julio Dominguez was his probation officer, and he’d intentionally gotten Scott Nelson fired from his job and thrown out on the street. He said that he’d been living with an “allegedly Christian” (I don’t know why he says “allegedly” but that’s what he says) family who’d given him a place to live after he’d gotten out of prison, while he was working for a painting company. Then one day, Julio came barging in and told Scott’s boss about all the horrible things that Scott had done over the years.
When the boss heard about Scott’s criminal history, he immediately fired Scott Nelson. Scott was kicked out onto the street. Then after living on the street for weeks, he became desperate for money, and that’s why he decided to break into the Berman house. Because, he said, if you kick a dog enough times, eventually it will bite. And that’s what happened to him, he was a dog that got kicked too many times and decided to bite. He said that Jennifer Fulford was “collateral damage” and that her death was the fault of Julio Dominguez.
Nelson didn’t even pretend to be remorseful for killing Fulford, but he did get very agitated when the prosecutor called him a racist. So apparently, that’s where he draws the line.
Since his trial, people have disputed Scott Nelson’s version of events. For example, Nelson’s boss from the painting job has said that Scott wasn’t even fired, he just inexplicably walked off the job one day and never came back. His boss has also said that: 1) he employs ex-cons all the time, Scott being a felon wasn’t a problem for him; 2) Julio Dominguez did visit him once, but that was just to verify that Scott was indeed working. So you can decide who to believe.
The murder of Jennifer Fulford was covered by the podcast Court Junkie in the aptly titled episode: “The Arrogant Killer.”