DNA evidence solves 1985 murder of missing Missouri waitress

Missouri

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NIXA, Mo. — On June 17, 1985, at the end of a long shift at a local cafe, Jackie got into her sports car and drove off into the night. She was a waitress and beauty pageant winner.

Jackie Johns

In the early morning hours of June 18, 1985, a car was found abandoned on U.S. 160 bearing the license plate JACKI-1. The car belongs to Jackie Johns. The keys were still in the ignition, a purse was left behind, there were clothes in the back seat, and blood was everywhere.

Four days later, her body was found by two fishermen in Lake Springfield. The location was about eight miles from where she was last seen. Investigators from Greene County, Springfield, and Christian County recovered her body by a boat dock on the northside of the lake. There were signs of serious head injuries. 

Gerald Carnahan was quickly identified as a suspect after being caught giving false information to the police. He was not charged with the murder. No one would be able to find an answer for the next twenty-five years. 

Carnahan served time in state prison in the 1990s for other crimes, including the attempted kidnapping of an 18-year-old Springfield woman in 1993. 

In 2010, thanks to advancements in DNA testing technology, Carnahan was tried and was found guilty of first-degree murder and rape. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

“The quicker and sooner they get the culprits that are guilty of this, other poor innocent little girls won’t be victimized like our sweet thing was.” 

~ Les Johns, Jackie’s Father

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