Archive for Friday, August 14, 2009

Finally justice was served,’ says survivor of Matthew Jaeger’s brutal attack

Survivor hopes others speak out

A day after Matthew Jaeger was found guilty of aggravated battery and kidnapping, his ex-girlfriend Francie Biggs talks about what she went through.

August 14, 2009


Signs of an abusive relationship

Domestic violence doesn’t just constitute physical abuse. A partner can exert power and control by making negative comments, isolating the victim from friends or family, using children to manipulate the victim, controlling finances and coercing, threatening and intimidating. According to Women’s Transitional Care Services, here are some indicators of domestic violence:

Characteristics of an abuser

• May claim disapproval of violence

• Sees women as property or sex objects

• May be stuck in traditional gender roles, such as the male is the breadwinner and the female is the homemaker

• Blames abuse on “external factors,” such as alcohol, stress or the partner’s behavior

Characteristics of an abusive relationship

• Watches your actions closely

• Frightens you

• Isolates you from family and friends

• Is excessively jealous

• Puts you down and calls you names

• Must always have control

Where to go for help


Women’s Transitional Care Services helps domestic violence survivors in Douglas, Jefferson and Franklin counties. It provides a safe house for women and children, acts as a court advocate, holds weekly support groups, has a 24-hour crisis line and offers practical assistance for survivors looking for housing, clothes, financial support, food and legal counsel. The organization can be reached 843-3333, toll free at 1-800-770-3030 or online at

GaDuGi SafeCenter

For instances of sexual abuse, support can be found at GaDuGi SafeCenter. From the time that a survivor arrives at the hospital to the end of the court trial, a GaDuGi volunteer is available to shepherd the survivor through the process. Rape victim survivor service advocates with GaDuGi can be reached 24 hours a day at Headquarters Counseling Center at 841-2435 for Lawrence, Eudora, Lecompton. In Baldwin City, they can be reached at 888-899-2345.

Legal avenues

Victims of domestic abuse can seek a protection from abuse order, which prohibits the defendant from having contact with the victim. They can also file a protection from stalking order, which prohibits the defendant from harassing, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with the victim, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. While the order doesn’t guarantee that an abuser will stay away, it does create a legal record, which is sometimes enough to stop abuse from continuing, said Sarah Terwelp, WTCS executive director

Matthew Jaeger: Guilty Verdict

More coverage of the trial of a former Kansas University student accused of beating and kidnapping his ex-girlfriend.

Francie Biggs, the 23-year-old victim in the Matthew Jaeger trial, had prayed for a way out of her abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend.

That escape came one night in October 2007, when Jaeger entered Biggs’ apartment, found her with another man and severely beat her. With a friend driving his car, Jaeger left the apartment with Biggs. When police pulled Jaeger’s car over, they found Biggs in the back seat bleeding from injuries to her vaginal area.

“I thought: This is a horrible thing that happened to me. But now people can see — this is a dangerous person,” Biggs said. “I realized this is going to be a hard thing to go through. But it is the beginning to get to the right place.”

On Friday, one day after a Douglas County jury found her former boyfriend guilty of aggravated battery and kidnapping, Biggs talked to the Lawrence Journal-World. She hopes her ordeal will encourage other women to seek help in leaving violent relationships.

“I feel like there has been a weight lifted off my shoulders that I have been carrying around for almost two years and finally justice was served,” she said of Thursday’s verdict.

For Biggs, who now lives out of state, the long healing process started with an 11-day hospital stay and ended with a two-week trial. It was the nature of Biggs’ injuries that grabbed so many people’s attention.

“If she had a busted jaw or a twisted arm or a broken rib, it probably wouldn’t have gotten this amount of publicity,” said Nola Wright, an assistant Kansas attorney general who was lead prosecutor on the case.

While the injury was rare, the violence between young couples is not.

In 2008, 688 reports of domestic violence were made to law enforcement in Douglas County. Almost half of those victims were between the ages of 15 and 25.

“The reality of it is, domestic violence knows no bounds,” said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.

A violent cycle

Biggs had been dating Jaeger for about a year when she discovered the now-24-year-old KU student from Chicago had started stalking her. It was then that she wanted to end the relationship.

“I realized that this is not normal. When he saw that I was thinking that, and that I didn’t want to be around him, that is when it changed. He was not the same person anymore,” she said.

He would be there when she went to a gasoline station or a grocery store. She became envious of her friends’ freedom and felt as though she lived in a prison. The more she tried to get out, the more intense the abuse became.

“A lot of people were afraid to stand up to him. He was big and strong and a fighter. So most people never stood up to him. I definitely did,” she said. “And he beat me up a lot for that.”

Getting out of an abusive relationship is a difficult decision, said Sarah Terwelp, executive director of Women’s Transitional Care Services. The nonprofit organization offers a safe house, court advocacy and other resources to more than 1,000 domestic abuse survivors each year.

“It is hard to come to that acknowledgment and understanding about yourself when you feel like you should be able to take care of yourself and no one should be able to harm you,” she said.

And often, as in the case of Biggs, women face the greatest danger once they leave the relationship.

Finding help

Looking back, Biggs wished she had sought legal help sooner, such as filing a protection from abuse or protection from stalking order with the court. At the time, she was afraid of what would happen if the court order didn’t work.

While a protection order doesn’t guarantee that an abuser will stay away, Terwelp said it does put on record that abuse has been occurring.

“In some cases it works really well,” she said. “Just having that opportunity to hold the abuser accountable is enough.

Help did come for Biggs — but it was at a high cost.

On the night of the attack, Biggs had little doubt who was breaking through her window. And at first her concern was for the safety of the other man in her apartment.

“I got him out of there as fast as I could. And then I realized what was going to happen to me,” she said.

At no point did Biggs think she would die. But there was concern she would never have children.

“In the hospital, I thought, well, if I didn’t die when he did this to me, I think I might have just died, because they told me ‘we don’t know if you can have kids.’ And it just killed me.”

One day and another surgery later, doctors told Biggs she would be able to have children. Today, Biggs says she has recovered, but noted she’ll “never look the same down there.”

She praises everyone, from hospital staff to police officers and prosecutors, for the support they gave her. After the attack, she continued to live in her apartment. It was there that she found the freedom she was seeking when she drove her car for the first time after the ordeal.

“It really felt like I had been released from somewhere horrible and I could drive without being followed. I didn’t have to be afraid anymore,” she said.

‘Maybe they can look at me’

Not all domestic violence survivors have the satisfaction of seeing their abuser sent to prison. About half of the domestic violence reports that come across the Douglas County District Attorney’s desk enter the court system.

For some, the outcome is fatal.

In 2007, on average every 21 days a person in Kansas died from domestic violence. Some of Douglas County’s most high profile homicide cases have been the result of domestic violence, such as the deaths of Carmin Ross, Jana Mackey, Mary Miller and Linda Begay.

“Cases like this I suppose raise people’s curiosity. I hope it can be used to raise people’s awareness about domestic violence,” Branson said.

Biggs just wants other women to take notice.

“Maybe they can look at me and say, ‘I don’t want that to happen to me,’ because no one would want that to happen and they can get out of the situation,” she said. “Stand up for yourself, stick with what you believe in and don’t settle for a guy that will hurt you. Because it will get to the point where he is going to kill you. And nobody should take that from somebody.”


BlackVelvet 8 years, 7 months ago

What a very brave young woman! I applaud her courage and know that by speaking out, she is helping others.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if she got panhandled during this particular outing. She was on Mass and all.

ursulabirtha 8 years, 7 months ago

You are such an ispiration. You are beautiful and I have been praying for you since I heard about this. You are so strong. As a survivor of domestic violence I can tell you that there will be hard days, but remember living well is the best revenge. Good Luck to you!!!!

Janis Pool 8 years, 7 months ago

Congratulations on hanging in and hanging tough. I admire you for doing what I wish I could have done years ago in another place. I especially hope this helps you significantly in the healing process.

KatieF 8 years, 7 months ago

Francine, Thank you for sharing your story - it is so inspiring. There are people, including many of your fellow Jayhawks, from around the country who are following this story. You have so many supporters. We are so happy that justice has been served, and we wish nothing but peace and happiness for you!

lctchr1 8 years, 7 months ago

Incredible young woman. Tremendous courage. I wish nothing but the best and brightest future for you, Miss Biggs.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 7 months ago

Marion the-oh-so-concerned-expert will be checking in here very soon to tell us that this case should have been plead to lessor punishment and will be overturned on appeal.

Isn't he so smart?

average 8 years, 7 months ago

One sad part about this is, due to the list of crimes he could be charged with, he won't be on a sex offender registry when he gets out. And he deserves it a lot more than some indecent exposure types.

Fortunately, Google (etc) never forgets. Young people... you have a valuable tool today. Research someone before becoming their intimate.

rbwaa 8 years, 7 months ago

Congratulations to a brave and inspirational woman.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 7 months ago

Dear Ms. Biggs, I cannot tell you how touched I am by the depth of your courage and strength. Going through the trial had to be incredibly difficult. Going public was a superhuman feat of strength. I hope beyond hope that women everywhere take this to heart and get the help and support they need to leave an abuser if they ever find themselves in this situation. We are human beings, not punching bags. I also want to say how deeply angered I was that Pedro Irigonegaray attempted to drag you through the mud. This was being victimized by the justice system when you already were a victim and I sincerely wish there was a way he could be sanctioned for pulling such a nasty trick. It, too, is one of the reasons women are afraid to seek legal help. In the past Mr. Irigonegaray had done much to help women in the legal arena. But in taking this case and using the tactics that he did he shot his credibility clear into the basement and out the back door. I hope his summer home/BMW/stock portfolio was worth the loss of his principles. Heal well Ms. Biggs and know that you have the support, respect, admiration and prayers of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. As a previous poster put it, "The best revenge is a life well lived."

svenway_park 8 years, 7 months ago

Pete Irigonegaray should be ashamed for his arguments in court infering the Francie was sexually libertine.

Yes, a defense attorney must be zealous. But nowhere does the law require defense counsel to use the two-bit technique of slandering the sexual mores and reputation of the victim.

I am sure Francie had been warned this was coming. And yet she had the courage to show up daily, even though she knew she would likely hear this terribly personal slander, without any ability to respond.

But she can speak now.

Go Francie! Thank you for having the courage to speak in public and share your story.

somebodynew 8 years, 7 months ago

sven- I agree with you. I think Pedro has done a lot of good things in the past, and I believe it is not just Jaegar who lost. Pedro has lost a lot of respect from people who have followed this case closely.

Sadly, that is not a whole lot of people in the scheme of things. As an example, this story was not even covered in the Topeka paper until there was a very short article about the conviction. That story didn't even generate any comments. Other than the Lawrence community most people probably do not realize, or care, what he did.

Ms. Biggs - again, thank you for being so brave and standing up, putting yourself on public notice for what is a very personal situation. May the best come to you wherever you go.

In the words of someone famous - "You go girl..."

KansasPerson 8 years, 7 months ago

Ms Biggs, I and my family followed this case closely, even while traveling (good job J-W and Twitter updates) -- we were very much in your corner, as were so many of commenters here. I applaud your courage and hope fervently for a good life for you from here on out.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 7 months ago

To Mr. Jaeger's parents - may I suggest that rather than continuing to throw money down the sinkhole that is your child's legal fund, you instead donate that money to the organizations listed in this story?

Do something good with that money. No good will come from continuing to pay for a new vacation home for Pedro.

Monica Miller 8 years, 7 months ago

I just thought this funny and wanted you to know. . . Last night I happen to be on the phone with a friend of mine that is actually serving a couple months in DCJ and he had to get off the phone because they were being locked down. So when they got out, he called me back and, of course, I asked what that was all about. Apparently Jaeger had gotten into a fight with somebody. Further discussion revealed that this is,by far, not the first fight he has gotten into. He has been trying to impress everyone with his "karate" moves. I thought it funny when he told me that earlier that day 4 people had jumped on Jaeger and they ended up having to put him in this restraint chair. Couple hours later, they brought out the chair and bloody clothes. I can only hope this is a little hint of what Jaeger has to face for YEARS down the road. I don't think he will last long at all in prison. Especially since he is already gettin his a$$ handed to him here in the county.

booklover 8 years, 7 months ago

You Go Girl! I have been following this ordeal since it started and praying for you. I'm glad to see that you are healing. Stay strong and I wish nothing but the best for you in the future!

Sharon Aikins 8 years, 7 months ago

It took a lot of courage for you to go through all this, Francie. I have to admire your spirit and determination to see this through. And thank you for speaking out now, to be a role model for other women. I sincerely hope the rest of your life is filled with peace and happiness, and even some kids if you want them. It wasn't easy but you stuck with it when others might have caved.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Wade, I too hope that what you said was satire because if it's not it sounds hauntingly like the rantings of George Sodini, the man who recently shot and killed three and wounded nine women in a Pennsylvania gym club. Much of what you just said in your post echoes things he said in his online blog. If you are serious, please please get help. No matter what a woman's past history is in relationships or emotionally with men there is NO excuse for violence.

Judgesmails 8 years, 7 months ago

Thats one tough chick!

Justice was served to that Punk!

Sigmund 8 years, 7 months ago

Francie Biggs, from victim to vindicated, much respect.

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says… "To Mr. Jaeger's parents - may I suggest that rather than continuing to throw money down the sinkhole that is your child's legal fund, you instead donate that money to the organizations listed in this story?"

If you feel that strongly about it I am sure you will lead by example. I suggest you donate your own money as you have control only of your own finances. Jaeger's parents have not been accused of, let alone convicted of, committing a crime.

somebodynew (Anonymous) says… "I think Pedro has done a lot of good things in the past, and I believe it is not just Jaegar who lost. Pedro has lost a lot of respect from people who have followed this case closely."

If you were accused of a heinous crime, you wouldn't hire Pedro Irigonegaray? What if you could afford him, facing a decade in prison, and were guilty?

The role of the defense attorney is to challenge the prosecutions case within the rules to insure the State can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It appears Ms. Biggs and the jury were able to easily withstand any questions about being "sexually libertine." After the defense threw everything including the kitchen sink at the prosecution's case the jury sorted it out and returned verdicts that I can have confidence in because the witnesses and evidence were tested and survived the test.

KatieF 8 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully the Chicago area newspapers start publicizing the verdict, he will probably move back there someday, and people in the area should be aware of the type of predator he is, and how is family spared no expense in the trial and slandered the victm.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 7 months ago

There are still far too many mothers out there that will blame the girl for being evil and tempting her son. I have heard women during this trail saying that she likes it rough and it must have been fun for her. How ignorant can you be? When men hear women who trash other women in this area, what do they think?

Sigmund 8 years, 7 months ago

Irish (Irish Swearingen) says… "I have heard women during this trail (sic) saying that she likes it rough and it must have been fun for her."

You should change the crowd your hanging with. Other than anonymous posters on the LJW Online I haven't heard that from anyone, male or female.

YOUNGCSI (Anonymous) says… "Last night I happen to be on the phone with a friend of mine that is actually serving a couple months in DCJ and he had to get off the phone because they were being locked down."

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas. Those that are friends with criminals are much more likely to be victims of, or convicted of, a crime. Let's hope we won't be reading about you on the front pages of the LJW in the future.

Monica Miller 8 years, 7 months ago

you have in the past. .. i'm past that now, thank you for your concern though

Judgesmails 8 years, 7 months ago

Irish - "I have heard women during this trail saying that she likes it rough and it must have been fun for her."

Youre a moron for repeating that trash you "heard." Think before you type, idiot.

Monica Miller 8 years, 7 months ago


Cait McKnelly 8 years, 7 months ago

Are you sure about that color of jumpsuit ironhorse? The last I heard a yellow jumpsuit had a different connotation to it than what you've explained.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 7 months ago

Is justice ever truly served in this dawn-to-dusk existence?

... or just reciprocal vengeance?

Sigmund 8 years, 7 months ago

YOUNGCSI (Anonymous) says… "you have in the past. .. i'm past that now, thank you for your concern though"

Not concerned about your past, but will look forward to reading about you in the near future. Will you be the victim or the criminal?

tangential_reasoners_anonymous (Anonymous) says… "Is justice ever truly served in this dawn-to-dusk existence? … or just reciprocal vengeance?"


Monica Miller 8 years, 7 months ago


geekin_topekan 8 years, 7 months ago

I was going to ask Youngcsi, where he got his info.

MJ should have been in classification lockdown for the weekend at the very least, which means he can get out for two hours, by himself, to bounce a Bball around the "yard", pick out a book, shower and catch a rerun of "Charmed".

His meal choice is limited but quite competitive compared to most jails.

Monica Miller 8 years, 7 months ago


igby 8 years, 7 months ago

I've never seen such stupid-a$$ed post before!

This really brings out the Morbid=perverts that Lawrence, seems to have it's share.

...and experienced jail-birds; your so full -of-syith! Wankers!

She will have no problem moving on with her life, she is a beautiful young women.

Sigmund 8 years, 7 months ago

YOUNGCSI (Anonymous) says… "how do you know i wasn't the victim in the past? how quick you were to assume that i was the criminal… .not smart, sigmund. and very insensitive."

I assume nothing except if you continue to hang with criminals you'll likely be a "I didn't think this would happen to me" victim, or the "I'll never be caught" criminal we will be reading about in the future on the front pages of the "if it bleeds it leads" LJW Online.

As for being insensitive, bite me.

fuel_for_the_fire 8 years, 7 months ago

"I've never seen such stupid-a$$ed post before!"

How about the time igby thought that GOP stood for Government of Power? That was pretty stupid.

And what makes you think this young woman will have "no problem moving on with her life"? Because you find her attractive? That's also pretty stupid. How dare you so cavalierly dismiss the ordeal this woman has had to endure.

This young woman may need a great deal of counseling; and if she does need support to move past this traumatic event, then I hope she seeks it.

Haiku_Cuckoo 8 years, 7 months ago

"If you were accused of a heinous crime, you wouldn't hire Pedro? What if you could afford him, were facing a decade in prison and were guilty?"

Is that supposed to be a joke? After watching him crash and burn for the past two weeks, I don't think anyone would hire him. Also, if I was guilty, I would man-up and take responsibility for my behavior. I wouldn't pay a guy to lie on my behalf and publicly shame and belittle the victim with the hopes that it would would get me off the hook.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 8 years, 7 months ago

tange: “Is justice ever truly served in this dawn-to-dusk existence? … or just reciprocal vengeance?”

Sig: "Yes."

Appropriate, if disappointing, answer.

I've said it before. I'll say it again. (Can it be said enough?) The welling of a vengeful sentiment within an individual would seem to reflect a perception/appreciation--even an embracement--of a justice within this reality of ours. Problem is, its execution relegates one to the position of the perpetrator (even if "executed" via some vicarious enjoyment derived from the suffering of another sentient).

If justice does not independently exist in this world of hours--the universe taking care of itself and its own, so to speak--then there is little that mere mortals can do to tip the balance, except perhaps to compromise themselves in that elusive (recursive) pursuit.

"Vengeance is Mine... saith the Lord." (Cannot even the agnostic can appreciate the wisdom of these words?) The toxicity of the venom on the tongue is but a swallow away... the lethality of the executioner's blade, foolishly self-wielded.

(Sorry... for a moment, there, I lost myself.)

igby 8 years, 7 months ago

Fire: The GOP comment was a satire. Your not really in touch with reality. The victims strong and it's been two years. Don't be such a lemon-head reveling in what you think this women needs. She really could do without people like you, who think she's damaged or in need of years of advice dragging her down. Best thing for her is a new and better life away for her past with Jaeger.

BrianR 8 years, 7 months ago

Stay strong Francie.

Just administer the MMPI to everyone you intend to date, that couldn't hurt.

somebodynew 8 years, 7 months ago

Sigmund - "If you were accused of a heinous crime, you wouldn't hire Pedro Irigonegaray? What if you could afford him, facing a decade in prison, and were guilty? "

Well, quite honestly I probably would not. And that has nothing to do with my feelings about this case. I (in a past career) have faced Pedro a couple of times. I have experienced interactions with other attorneys I feel are just as, if not more, competent than Pedro - and they don't cost as much.

Grundoon Luna 8 years, 7 months ago

When I first heard this story I was so thankful the police pulled the car over because this would have been our own Simpson trial or Unsolved Mystery otherwise.

Francie, may you always have the strength, courage and wisdom of the Goddess with you. I have a feeling the "force is strong with this one" already for seeing this through. If you are up for it, I hope you go further and sue that pathetic P O S in civil court so he has that to look forward to after getting out of prison. It is very unfortunate you suffered many indignities at the hands of that coward but resolve to not ever let anyone treat you like that again. That really is all he is: a coward. Well, and a bully.

SWJayhawk13 8 years, 7 months ago

Francie --

I want to thank you for the tremendous strength and courage that it took you to survive this horrible attack, and to have the strength to stand up for yourself in court and face the slandering of Irigonegaray. You have proven how strong of a person you are, and you have given hope to other women survivors -- whether of domestic abuse or sexual violence. As a victim myself (I am only 2 years younger than you), I was too afraid to take things to court. I couldn't emotionally handle the defense trying to drag me through the mud -- as they did to you. But you did it and you came out of it no longer a victim but were able to stand up for yourself. I hope that you can keep that mentality for the rest of your life and remember how strong you are, and how much of an inspiration you are to survivors of abuse/assault. I wish you the best and hope that scumbag Jaeger will man up (like that'll happen) and accept his conviction and serve his time. If he doesn't though, I know that you will have the strength to again face him in court. I wish you the best!

Lauren Reinhold 8 years, 7 months ago


Thank you for seeing this case through trial and then speaking out to the press. You are an inspiration to victims everywhere!

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