Jacquelin Sue “Jackie” Johns-Homicide

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(Clayton, MO) — Twenty-five years after Nixa woman Jackie Johns was found raped and murdered, an Ozarks man is found guilty in those crimes.

A jury in St. Louis County found Gerald Carnahan guilty of First Degree Murder and Forcible Rape. Those charges came with not just one, but two, lifetime jail sentences with no parole.

The jury spent 14 hours deliberating Gerald Carnahan’s fate. After 25 years, you may not think that’s a long time to wait.

But when that guilty verdict was read, together the Johns family said “yes!” and cried tears of joy; Gerald Carnahan teared up, knowing he’ll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

It was a tale of two families — the Johns and Carnahans — waiting and wondering for 25 years.

“I didn’t think it would ever come,” says Janis Johns-Walker, Jackie’s eldest sister. “I thought he’d get out of it because he’s always gotten out of it.”

Janis says the gruesome death destroyed her family, knowing a daughter and sister was taken away too soon.

“Jackie was always the lively one — the one that would keep everything going” she said. “Mom, she just literally grieved herself to death.”

But Thursday at 3:10 p.m. — three years after Gerald Carnahan was charged with raping and murdering Jackie Johns — he’s once again wearing handcuffs.

“We were afraid it wasn’t going to come out that way but it finally did,” says Janis. “They got him and now he won’t kill anybody else.”

Jurors spent two days weighing the evidence, leaving families wondering what was the hold up.

“I just kept trying to tell myself and the family it’s a 25-year-old case and you have a lot of witnesses,” said Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore.

“I was concerned we were going to have a hung jury just because of the evidence,” says Deborah McLaughlin. “I didn’t feel like we had a motive.”

McLaughlin served as the jury’s foreman. She says initially, the jurors were split right down the middle, six to six.

“The DNA was the lynchpin,” she said.

The DNA evidence taken from Jackie’s body during her autopsy. The defense questioned how well it had been preserved over 25 years.

“You take one of these diet sugars. It’s one gram,” said defense attorney Dee Wampler. “You take it and divide it into one billion pieces and it wasn’t even one-billionth a piece.”

“I am confident justice was done,” said McLaughlin.

Her sisters agree, knowing Jackie and their mother were looking down on the courthouse and smiling.

“I’m so glad that he’s off the streets and know nobody else will ever have to go through what jackie went through,” said Janis. “Jackie was a beautiful person. She had a lot ahead of her. We’re just glad it’s over.”

Gerald Carnahan’s wife sobbed for a half-hour after hearing the verdict. KOLR/KSFX asked Carnahan’s father for a comment. He shook his head and said, “what can you say?”

Formal sentencing for Carnahan takes place October 25. The defense has ten days to get plans in place to appeal, which it plans to do.

Jackie Johns’ sisters say it doesn’t matter. They recalled their mother Shirley’s words on her deathbed in 1988: “we’ll never know, we’ll never know.” The Johns family says today, we know.

For review, here are each of Emily Baucum’s reports from the courtroom this week:

Day One: Carnahan Trial Underway with Opening Statements

Day Two: Carnahan Trial Brings Heated Testimony

Day Three: Former Sheriff, Crime Lab Director Take Stand in Carnahan Trial

Day Four: Carnahan Testimony Focuses on DNA Quality

Day Five: Prosecution Calls Last Witness in Carnahan Trial

Day Six: DNA Evidence Key Element of Carnahan Trial

Day Seven: Jury Deliberates Through Evening After Closing Arguments


(Clayton, MO) — A St. Louis County jury has found Gerald Carnahan guilty of First Degree Murder and Rape in the 1985 murder of Jackie Johns.

Johns’ family shouted “yes” following the reading of the verdict.

“We did it! We did it!” yelled Jackie’s three sisters. Joyce Johns says it was a great feeling watching guards cuff Carnahan and take him away.

After 13 hours of deliberations stretched out over Wednesday and Thursday, jurors came to their verdict at 3:10 p.m.

Members of both Carnahan’s and Johns’ families could be seen sobbing even before the verdict was read.

“What can you say?” asked Carnahan’s father. Carnahan was seen tearing up. He asked to speak to his father in private before sentencing.

“He won’t kill anyone else again,” says Johns’ sister Janis Johns-Walker.

Jeanne Johns, Jackie’s eldest sister, says it feels like years have been taken off her life. She says Jackie and her mom are “looking down on them and doing the happy dance.”

Jackie’s mother Shirley passed away in 1988. Janis Johns tells KOLR/KSFX that on her deathbed, Shirley said “we’ll never know.”

“Now we know,” says Janis.

Following the reading of the verdict, court was recessed for 20 minutes until the second phase of sentencing.

Carnahan will face life in prison without parole for First Degree Murder, and life in prison for Forcible Rape. Sentencing has been set for October 25.

In the courtroom with handcuffs for the first time, Carnahan did not testify on his behalf in second phase of sentencing.

Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore listed Carnahan’s criminal record at that time: burglary, stealing, arson, attempted kidnapping, assault of law enforcement, and unlawful use of weapon. That was the first time it has been revealed to jurors.

Moore then called Janis John-Walker to the stand.

“It pretty much destroyed our family,” she says. “We’re so relieved — so glad he’s off the streets, and no one else has to go through what Jackie did. She had a lot ahead of her. We’re just glad it’s over.”

Prosecutors laid out a gruesome scenario of the death of Jackie Johns in closing arguments in her accused killer’s trial.

Carnahan was charged for the 1985 murder of Jackie Johns of Nixa. Johns was 20 years old when she vanished after leaving work one night in June of that year. Four days later, her body was found floating in Lake Springfield.

Carnahan, long a suspect in the case, wasn’t charged until 2007, when DNA tests connected him to evidence found on the woman’s body.

Defense attorneys called into question the quality of the DNA samples, after being stored in several locations, unrefrigerated, for 25 years. They also questioned the memory of witnesses after so much time had passed.


Hailey Owens

Remembering Hailey Owens – Springfield News Leader

Craig Wood sentenced to death penalty for killing Hailey Owens

Feb 21, 2017



An investigator with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force said Tuesday that Hailey Owens was not a victim of her stepfather’s alleged crimes.

Hailey, 10, was abducted and killed in February 2014 in Springfield, and her stepfather Jeffrey Barfield was indicted last week on a federal child porn charge.

Investigator Brian Martin told the News-Leader that Hailey was not a victim of Barfield.

If Hailey was a victim, Martin said, Barfield’s charges would have been “much more serious.”

Barfield, 38, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on a charge of sexual exploitation of minors. The indictment was unsealed Friday.

The indictment alleges that Barfield received and distributed material that “involved the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” between Jan. 1, 2012 and Sept. 22, 2016.

Martin said nothing in the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force investigation led authorities to think there’s a connection between Barfield’s activity and the abduction of his stepdaughter in 2014.

Since Barfield was indicted by a grand jury, public court documents do not provide any more details about the allegations.
Martin declined to provide further detail about the case against Barfield, referring those questions to federal prosecutors. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case beyond what is contained in public court documents.

Online court records indicate Barfield has been released on bond and he is being represented by an attorney with the federal public defender’s office.

Barfield’s attorney did not return a phone call Tuesday morning seeking comment for this report.

Hailey, a Westport Elementary School fourth grader, was abducted from the street near her home in west Springfield and killed on Feb. 18, 2014.

Police say they found the girl’s body in the home of 48-year-old Craig Michael Wood, hours after witnesses saw someone matching Wood’s description grab Hailey off the street and pull her into his truck.

Wood has been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in connection with Hailey’s death.

Wood’s attorney Patrick Berrigan told the News-Leader this month Wood is willing to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life in prison if, in exchange, the Greene County prosecutor drops his pursuit of the death penalty.

Barfield and his wife Stacey, Hailey’s mother, have traveled to Jefferson City this year to advocate for legislation that would speed up Missouri’s Amber Alerts, which are issued for abducted children.

Wood’s parents, Jim and Regina Wood, have teamed up with the Barfields to advocate for the legislation, which has been dubbed Hailey’s Law.

Online court records indicate an arraignment has been scheduled in Jeffrey Barfield’s case for Monday.

Sexual exploitation of minors is a Class C felony with a range of punishment between 5 and 20 years in prison.

A description on the city of Joplin’s website says the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional group that investigates “sexual predators who exploit children through the use of the Internet” in southwest Missouri.