Mother's 'torture' after son from Sheffield is found murdered in America

A grieving mother has spoken of the 'torture' she has endured since learning her son from Sheffield was brutally murdered after moving to America to start a new life.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 9:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 9:17 am

Andy Jackson moved to Sheffield as a teenager and the Owls fan spent most of his adult life in the city, where he lived in Hillsborough and Arbourthorne and worked for the immigration service.

In 2015, he changed his name to AJ Gryffin, married an American woman and moved to Albuquerque, in New Mexico.

Andy Jackson's body was found dumped in the desert, having reportedly been wrapped in plastic and gaffer tape

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Andy's mother Penny Thornton told how more than eight months later they are still waiting for a death certificate to be issued, so he can be cremated and his ashes can be returned home, and are desperate to piece together what happened to the 'bubbly' 51-year-old with a passion for cooking.

"It feels like an unofficial torture where nobody's telling us anything," she said.

Andy's mother said he had a 'bubbly' personality and a passion for cooking

"We want his body to be released so he can be cremated and laid to rest, and we want to know what happened to him, because we're not getting any answers."

Mrs Thornton said police in New Mexico had told her there was a 'strong suspect' but no one had yet been arrested.

And it was only through those who know Andy in the US that they learned he had apparently been killed at his home in Albuquerque before his body was driven to the village of Magdalena, where it was reportedly discovered by a walker on September 11.

Andy had worked for the immigration services in Sheffield

Mrs Thornton was only told by police in January, while she was visiting her brother in Florida, that her son had been killed.

New Mexico State Police told a paper in Albuquerque that Andy's death was being investigated as a murder. They would not release further details, but said officers were 'currently working leads and making progress in the case'.

Andy was estranged from his family, who believe he wanted to start afresh in the US and said had cut all communications with them before leaving, but they followed his Facebook updates to make sure he was OK and hoped to one day be reconciled.

Andy, who was born in Nottingham, moved to Sheffield with his family aged 15 and lived there until 2009, when he moved to Manchester.

Andy advertised his services as a personal chef after moving to America

He had a 24-year-old son and had been married twice before meeting his third wife.

Andy's mother said he had been a 'troubled soul' towards the end of his life but was previously a 'bubbly' character who had lots of friends when he lived in Sheffield.

"He was very bubbly and he loved cooking," she said.

"He would cook for everybody and would take chocolates in for his work colleagues with praline filling which he'd made from scratch, He also loved walking in the countryside around Derbyshire and was fond of real ale.

"Once he changed his name and got on the plane I think he thought he'd left behind the person that was Andy Jackson and was starting afresh."

Andy and his third wife soon divorced, and court papers in the US show it was an acrimonious split with both filing restraining orders against one another.

He launched a website promoting his services as a personal chef and he frequently shared messages and photos via Facebook and Instagram.

In his last Facebook post, dated August 12 last year, he wrote of his need to 'get out more' and said he had 'legal issues to write for next week'.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: "Our staff have been assisting the family of a British man who died in New Mexico in 2017, and are in contact with the US authorities."

The Star has contacted New Mexico State Police.