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Letters: Woman who died on ranch near Idyllwild in relationship with boss

Jodi Newkirk wrote several letters to Keith Harper during her 4 months at the ranch.

MOUNTAIN CENTER, Calif. — ***This article contains graphic language***

More letters and journal entries have been found, written by a woman who died last month on the Bonita Vista Ranch near Idyllwild.

Family members discovered the letters among Jodi Newkirk's belongings in a nearby rental house.

The letters suggest Newkirk, 46, was in a relationship with her 72-year-old boss at the ranch.

Most of Newkirk's handwritten letters are undated but she started working at the Bonita Vista Ranch in Mountain Center four months before she died.

One letter dated September 22, 2021 showed Newkirk knew that the owner of the ranch, former La Jolla resident Dia Abrams, had gone missing from the ranch in 2020.

Abrams' ex-boyfriend, Keith Harper, then took over as trustee of the estate.

Below is a transcript of the letter Newkirk wrote in September to both Harper and Abrams:

Sept. 22, 2021
Dear Dia (& Harper)
So even tho we never met I really feel a bond with you. I know it’s very possible you may not feel the same. You may just hate my guts. But I hope from the bottom & all of my heart that you realize that I truly have you & yours, all of your animals, friends & home, possessions, & even Harper’s best interest at heart. Right now I am totally and completely screwing up my life as far as my legal, my soc. sec., my personal relationships (tho it was already). And I know so far it has been a challenge to get the right people & get moving in the direction of getting out of the red & maybe Harper can take better care of himself so he can be around here for you when you come home! And I do honestly think you will be coming home!! I hope you like me!!
P.S. I just want to say thank you so much to you & to Harper both.  Because this has been a life saver to me.  It’s given me a purpose again!! And believe again!!

Credit: Newkirk Family

Dia Abrams went missing on June 6, 2020, leaving her truck, cell phone and purse behind. She still has not been located.

On December 23, 2021, Harper called 911 to report Newkirk had been killed at the Bonita Vista Ranch in an ATV rollover accident. Riverside homicide detectives responded to the scene and, days later, put out a news release calling Newkirk’s death suspicious.

Newkirk worked on the ranch. Harper was her boss and landlord.

Below is a transcript of an undated letter written by Newkirk:

We need to figure out what my hours will be & how much my pay is. We can deduct the rent off the top. Then figure recent [sic] how many hours a day I’ve been working & the days. Because it seems I have been here at least 6 days a week. And the time you were gone. I’m feeling extremely & I mean extremely frustrated by everything & not being able to have any kind of outside activities is getting me seriously burnt out. Not only that but I need to be able to be home at least 3 nights a week & I would actually prefer more. I feel like you don’t really appreciate me like you could & you[‘re] constantly trying to hire another person (girl).

In another undated letter, Newkirk's relationship with Harper appeared to have turned toxic:

Harper, I am so dumbfounded…So I was already inside when you answered the phone. I’m assuming it was Jen. I’m almost positive I heard you say hi Jen.  But I’m totally completely positive without a doubt that I heard you say “All she does is follow me around all day.” I am not one to be real sensitive usually but this is wow. I can’t begin to express how hurt I am!  Even if there was not a personal relationship of sorts between us, I still am so unspeakably devastated. I can’t even talk to you right now. I honestly don’t know what to do as I’m pretty much stuck here again. And to know this is a bitch I begged you for!! How dare she!!  What the hell did I do to deserve this?? Be at your beck & call, your every need.  Every everything I do my damnedest to get done for you!! I try my ass off & I have absolutely nothing in my life from prior to living for Harper. Fuck that sounds totally lame but I’ve been so grateful & so happy to be here I just let everything else go. Not like my relationship was much but my dog, my work release & shit… WTF??

Credit: Newkirk Family

More letters detailed Newkirk's growing frustration and, eventually, she wrote about starting to look for another job:

So I’ve decided that when we lose this house I’m going to find a job around here riding horses. I can still help you too. But I’m thinking this is honestly going nowhere for me.  Frankly I’m not too happy & I haven’t even gotten to be here & enjoy what I’ve been working so hard for. Busting my ass to have my own place w/ my horse & my dogs & I have none. I’m really really sad & depressed after our “talk” (not) today. But it was majorly enlightening for me. It really opened my eyes & I still feel like I can’t catch my breath & my whole equilibrium is off. Now you walk away so I can’t hear you talking on the ph. Not that it’s any of my business but I go through the fucking stress & that tension & the constant worry about you! Fuck you Harper!! Right now I don’t have another fucking word for you. Except you just fucked yours off. What we had wasn’t really all that to you probably cause you have no idea what you had & you never will. No I’m no Anna or Patricia but you know what? I may not be perfect but I am true, honest, loyal, & sincere. I would have killed, died, given my right arm for you. Even if you don’t deserve it. Even if you fire. Not anywhere near the great human being you wish you were or you act like you are. I know who you are :) I loved (love) you anyway. You will see when I’m gone and I’m already gone. Good Bye.
P.S. I’m heart broken completely I am so… lost & sad worse than that I thought of you as my closest friend & my only close friend lately the only person in my life I truly want to be with & enjoy being around. Very very sad :(  I [heart] you.

Credit: Newkirk Family

CBS 8 reached out to Keith Harper, informing him of our intention to publish Newkirk's letters. He has not responded to messages seeking comment.  He has not been charged with any crime in either the disappearance of Dia Abrams, nor the death of Jodi Newkirk.

Newkirk’s autopsy has been completed and her remains cremated, however, her cause of death is pending toxicology testing results, according to family members.

CBS 8 obtained recordings & journal entries, letters, and lists of chores Newkirk had done on the ranch.  Family members are turning over the records to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department as the investigation into Newkirk's death continues.

Additional transcripts of some of the letters attributed to Newkirk are printed below:


You did a shitty ass job of making the beds & I had to redo them. They looked like shit & they couldn’t be photoed like that. And I can’t believe the way that you treat me.

It’s a total slap in my face. And like right now you come right behind me & act like I didn’t do a good enough job. I vacuumed the whole house twice & got under everything & even most of the window sills I even dusted & polished the fucking wood almost all of it. I did my very best & no matter how hard I try & how much I do your [sic] still right there one step behind me to finish the one last step in whatever I’m doing, yet you don’t to 1/2 the detailed complete job with your own projects. Look at the indoor BBQ wow.

Nov 4
Dear Harper
So here I go again. And you most likely didn’t even read the last one. I’m beyond hurt & upset and honestly I don’t even know why I even still put myself thru this shit. I have no life at all. I have no fun. I want my fucking horse back Harper &  you haven’t done anything to help me or let me at least go look for him. And it’s because of you & your stupid bridge that I don’t have him!  I want my horse back.  I want you to act like you appreciate a thing I’ve done & lost &…

all the work that you never say thanks, never say good job. No instead you say you can’t trust me!!  It makes me literally sick to my stomach and it really is totally completely bullshit & you know it. Your just to [sic] much. Your [sic] really starting to hate you & we don’t want that. We don’t want ugliness between us Harper.


Hi again. This is the second letter today. But you didn’t read the first one & you probably won’t even read this one. But I’m going to write it anyway. Because I need to vent. I’m losing my mind. I can’t believe you don’t even… 

when I realized that you sure can act like you like me a whole lot when you want me but I really don’t matter that much to you. When you said it was OK that you could talk about all that on your phone with those other girls & not me.


Dear Harper, So I know I shouldn’t be writing this down & your [sic] most likely not going to read it anyway. Sometimes it really helps to vent. And Boy I have a ton to say about everything obviously. With you being gone it’s very hard for me to feel OK with everything. I need to communicate & in person is always best. I feel like we have gotten kinda on different pages lately. Probably because I feel like you’re a computer dog like a high class gigilo (sp?). Anyhow you really do sleep with as many females as you can & you tell all girls what they want to hear & you tell them all basically the same thing. I listen to you & I really am feeling very strange about the always going to miss me comment in the text a few days ago? What the hell was that about & you never did elaborate? Anyhow I don’t like the way that sounds. Not a bit. It’s weird. With you gone tho I do miss you but I’m thinking things are going to be different when you are back. Not sure who will initiate it but I’m feeling it big time.

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