SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A murder case that shook southwest Missouri will be showcased on national TV this weekend. A man raped and killed 20-year-old Jackie Johns in 1985. The prime suspect was not tried until 25 years later.
“A wonderful person, she really was. Upbeat and cheerful and everybody just loved her,” said Jeanne Johns.
Jeanne Johns said her sister Jackie was in her prime when her life was cut short in 1985.
“She was such a special person. It’s just nice to keep her in everybody’s memory,” Jeanne said.
Jackie was 20 years old when she went missing on her way home from work. Police found her car abandoned in Christian County, covered in blood. Her body was found a few days later, submerged in Springfield lake. Johns said the news took a toll on her parents.
“It really affected both of them horribly but my mom actually got cancer and passed away within three years of Jackie getting killed,” she said.
Johns said it was heartbreaking to lose a sister and chilling to see her suspected killer walking free in the community for decades. Witnesses had seen him at the same gas station where Jackie’s car was found.
“There was a suspect and a key suspect and it was Gerald Carnahan but there was insufficient evidence to get him,” said former Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore. “So I think part of the intrigue is not only the victim and her life and her bubbliness but I think it’s the fact that it took over 20 years to get to the point that the man that everybody thought did this was finally held accountable and tried.”
It wasn’t until 2007 that detectives connected Carnahan to the crime with evidence carefully preserved from Jackie’s body. Darrell Moore was the Greene County prosecutor who tried the case in 2010.
“The two keys to success were good law enforcement work, good police work at the very beginning and good lab work at the very beginning and secondly, the evolution of DNA,” Moore said.
Carnahan was found guilty. Moore is certain that conviction would not have been possible without DNA evidence.
The Johns case was Moore’s final case as an elected prosecutor. He stayed in contact with Jackie’s father throughout the court proceedings.
Jeanne Johns said there may be justice for her sister’s death, but her family still has questions.
“Like my dad used to say, there’s never any closure because we still don’t know for sure what happened that night,” Johns said.
Those are secrets she believes Jackie’s killer will never share.
Jackie Johns’ murder has been featured twice on national TV. Both times featured interviews with family and friends such as Jeanne Johns, friend Dayna Spencer and friend Lisa Fitzpatrick.
Now that the appeal process is over, Prosecutor Moore and investigators are included for the first time. Other interviews are set to include Dwight McNeil, the former Christian County Sheriff, and Dan Nash with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The latest special report will air Sunday on the Oxygen channel.
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