Exclusive: Jennifer Petkov Says 'I'm Sorry,' Wishes to Move On
'It just seems like no matter how quiet I stay that I’m still being accused of doing things that I’m not doing,' the Trenton woman, who used Facebook to post doctored photos of a dying girl, told Patch in an exclusive interview last week.
Jennifer Petkov says she is sorry, and she has a big regret.
Petkov, of Trenton, first made national news in October 2010 when she posted on Facebook photographs she doctored of a 7-year-old girl dying of Huntington’s disease and her mother, who died as a result of the disease in 2009.
Though no criminal or civil charges were filed against Petkov for posting the Facebook photos, the story blew up in local and national media. A follow-up story Trenton Patch ran on June 23 was read by about 1 million people.
In the photos, the face of the girl, Kathleen Edward, was superimposed onto a skull and crossbones, and her mother, Laura Edward, 24, was being embraced by the grim reaper.
"The entire world thought I was this evil child-hater, child-taunter," Petkov told Patch in an exclusive interview last week at a restaurant in Trenton.
Petkov said she made the pictures of the girl and her mother out of spite and posted them to her own Facebook page, but took them down shortly after.
She made a mistake, she said, and making the two pictures is her biggest regret.
“If there was anything I could do to change it I would, but I can’t,” Petkov said.
But the Detroit Street disputes continue.
Petkov, who talked to Patch with her husband, Scott Petkov, said she wanted to tell her side of the story because she believes many accusations directed at her since the initial event have been false.
“We haven’t spoken to anyone, under the advice from our attorney, and it just seems like no matter how quiet I stay that I’m still being accused of doing things that I’m not doing,” Jennifer said. “I can only be quiet for so long, but then eventually I look guilty because I’m quiet.”
Since the initial Facebook incident, neighbors have come to authorities to complain about the Petkovs at least a couple times.
On Oct. 13, 2010 Jennifer Petkov was charged with felonious driving and reckless driving for allegedly trying to run over a neighbor, Tana Boling, with her car as Boling was crossing the street in the 200 block of Detroit Street.
In February, Petkov pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault and battery and received 18 months probation with the following conditions: psychological evaluation with treatment if recommended, substance abuse evaluation with treatment if recommended and anger management.
Petkov told Patch last week that she did not try to run her neighbor down with her car, but, against the advice of her attorney, Scott Weinberg, she felt she had no choice but to accept the plea bargain because she was convinced she would not get a fair trial.
"It was against my legal advice that she plea, but she wanted to end the squabble between the neighbors," Weinberg said, adding that he had evidence he believes would have exonerated his client.
As a result of that plea bargain, Petkov was ordered to stay off Facebook. She also agreed to have no contact with Boling or the five-block area of Detroit Street, as well as Washington, Cleveland, Parkplace and Roerig streets.
The sentence meant she also had to move out of her house and not return until after her probation ends in September 2012.
Recently, Petkov had to go before a judge after Trenton police removed her from the house. She said she had returned to get court documents pertaining to her ex-husband.
Weinberg said the judge told Petkov that while it was a legitimate reason to go back to the house, it was bad judgment and to keep her legal papers elsewhere. Petkov did not receive any further legal action for violating her probation.
And on June 20, according to a Trenton police report, Kathleen Edward’s grandmother and the Petkovs' Detroit Street neighbor, Rebecca Rose, told police in June that she has been continually harassed by the Petkovs via Facebook and in person.
Police said they tried to obtain a written witness statement from Rose, but while she was writing she stated, “I can’t take it anymore” and ran out of the Trenton Police Department crying. No charges have been filed.
'I'm still being accused'
Petkov, however, told Patch she had nothing to do with that incident.
She said she not been on Facebook since the judge ordered her to stay off the popular social-networking site. She said she gets updates on Internet news and Facebook from her father.
Petkov said any recent comments on Facebook directed toward Rose or Kathleen were not coming from her or her husband.
The Petkovs said someone had been using their names and images to create false profiles on Facebook, and they do not have Facebook pages.
“Anyone can create a Facebook page and pretend to be whomever they want and it’s to the point right now that I just want to scream,” Petkov said.
The Petkovs said they have contacted Facebook to have the fake profiles removed, but have not been successful.
The spokesperson went on to say, "because of the diversity of our community, it's possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for being removed or blocked."
Petkov's critics, however, have been quite vocal on Facebook. A page created to rally people against her has about 8,500 likes.
People use the site to share messages of hope for people with Huntington's disease and to exchange insults directed toward Petkov.
The Petkovs said they have no idea who created the page, but wish it would be taken down.
In the meantime, Petkov said her life goes on. She said she's not harassed or bothered by anyone in Trenton or anywhere else.
“No one bothers us,” Petkov said. “We can go to a restaurant. We can go to a store. I get no harassment. Nothing.”
The Petkovs also said they have a good relationship with other people on Detroit Street, but they have tried to sell their house. They have had no offers. They blame the slumping housing market for their difficulty selling the home. They also said people had posted the listing for their house on the Facebook page made to rally against her.
Scott Petkov said he has lived in the house for more than eight years and plans to stay in the house if it isn’t sold.
Jennifer Petkov's probation runs until September 2012 and she plans to stay in the house after her probation if they can't sell. She currently lives with family, but did not wish to disclose any more information about her current residence.
“Ultimately, we would like to sell the house and move on,” Scott Petkov said.
A means to an end
The Petkovs gave several reasons for what started their neighbor disputes with Rose, but they said it did not start when Jennifer posted the pictures of Rose’s daughter and granddaughter on Facebook. They said it had been going on long before the pictures were posted.
The Petkovs said the Trenton Police Department attempted to bring the neighbors together with a mediator, but it never came to fruition.
Deputy Chief Jim Nardone said the Trenton Police Department, through the detective bureau and police administration, offered mediation to look for a way for the Petkovs and Rose to resolve some of their issues, but at least one of the parties was not interested. He would not elaborate on which party declined mediation.
"We were trying to get them in a reconciliation program where people work together to try and resolve all of their issues," Nardone said. "The help would have been independent of the police department and there was likely to be no expense."
Petkov said she has apologized for the pictures and that she and her husband have tried to move on.
The Petkovs said they turned down interviews with the National Enquirer, Inside Edition and The Today Show, as well as many local TV outlets, because they felt if they were quiet the situation would go away.
But they changed their mind because they now feel standing mute makes them seem guilty of continually harassing the little girl and her grandmother. Still, the Petkovs said, they just want to be ignored.
“I just want to be left alone and quit being brought in to everything,” Jennifer Petkov said.
“The bottom line is: We are good people,” Scott Petkov said. “We do good by our family, and we don’t bother nobody.”
“I just wish everybody would just leave us alone," Jennifer Petkov said, "and move on and focus their energy on helping this little girl (Kathleen) and this family heal and move on with their lives.”