Missing Person-Cheryl Kenney-Nevada, MO

Cheryl Kenney_1456499592792_7213014_ver1.0_1280_720

25 Year Mystery: Where is Cheryl Kenney?

Kenney disappeared in Nevada, Missouri, leaving 2 children


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NEVADA, Mo.  — 25 years ago Saturday, a woman from Nevada, Missouri vanished, leaving no clues behind.

Law enforcement says despite the length of time that has passed, closing this case is still a priority, and they need the public’s help.

“She was a local, a native of Nevada. At the time, I believe she was living near Walker,” said Sgt. Jeff Baker, Nevada Police Department.

Sergeant Jeff Baker says Cheryl Kenney was a mother of two, a wife and a honest, hard working person. That all changed the night of February 27th, 1991.

“Apparently, she closed the store about 10 o’clock that night, and was never seen again,” said Sgt.Baker.

Sgt. Baker says over the years, thousands of hours have been spent on dozens, if not hundreds of interviews, all aimed at finding out what happened to Kenney.

“They went to several different leads that they’ve got, you know, I mean, nothing ever came about,” said Sgt.Baker.

Sgt. Baker began looking into the case for himself about five years ago, and says the shear lack of clues is frustrating.

“There was no evidence to even be found at the location she was reported missing. I mean, there was no struggle, no sign of a break in, nothing missing from the store. I mean, it was just like she just vanished,” said Sgt.Baker.

While the Kenney investigation, which is still considered a missing person case, was always an active one, Nevada Police Chief Graham Burnley says it’s been a major emphasis for his department since he took over in 2011.

“It was a time for us to take a look at it and see if we could come up with anything fresh,” said Graham Burnley, Nevada Police Chief.

He says he believes someone out there knows what happened to Kenney, or has information that could help them finally provide answers, and closure to her family and the community.

“I really want to have some sort of information. If we can have the community help us with this, it’s so important for us to get some input from someone who knows something about the case, and give us some direction on where to go,” said Chief Burnley.

Chief Burnley says with the 25th anniversary of Cheryl Kenney’s disappearance upon us, now is the time for anyone with information to come forward, and help her family find peace.

“They want some closure on this, as we want to provide that to them. My police want that same closure. There’s nobody in the world that wants to see a resolution to this case more than we,” said Chief Burnley.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Nevada Police Department at (417) 448-5100. Chief Burnley says callers can remain anonymous.


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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.


Crime victims honored at annual brick-laying ceremony

Crime victims honored at annual brick-laying ceremony
at the Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield on April11, 2016.
Scenes at the Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park Leslie North points heavenward to recognize her murdered A crowd was gathered at the Memorial Garden in Phelps at the Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield4 of 8 at the Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield A Springfield Police Officer holds the flag at the Nell Jersak dedicated a brick to her Father Ollie Crosswhite Charlie Rikard dedicated a brick to his horse

Linda Regan, development director at the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, summed up Monday evening’s event in two words: sad and wonderful.

Regan was one of 12 presenters Monday at the annual brick-laying ceremony at the Victims Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park.

Twenty new engraved bricks were added to the garden to honor victims of violent crimes, their families and those who serve them in the Springfield community.

More than 100 people attended the 24th annual ceremony, which is part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott dedicated bricks to all of the local law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

With some family members of the deceased in attendance, Arnott said the bricks meant a lot to him.

A crowd was gathered at the Memorial Garden in Phelps

“It’s an honor to be able to represent these officers and the sheriff,” Arnott said. “I’m sorry it’s taken this long to recognize this publicly.”

Todd Myers, Greene County chief assistant prosecutor, presented a brick in honor of Shaun and Mark Staudte who died in 2012 after being poisoned with antifreeze.

Diane and Rachel Staudte, Mark’s wife and daughter, have pleaded guilty to murder and received life sentences for poisoning the men.

Myers said Diane Staudte did not organize proper memorials for the victims when they died. He said he hopes the brick will provide some comfort for the family.
Myers said Diane Staudte did not organize proper memorials for the victims when they died. He said he hopes the brick will provide some comfort for the family.

Leslie North points heavenward to recognize her murderedBuy Photo
Leslie North points heavenward to recognize her murdered son Weston as she stands with her husband Wesley in the Memorial Garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield on April 11, 2016. (Photo: Bruce E Stidham/News-Leader)
“Although she tried to erase them from her life, we have chosen not to erase them from our memories,” Myers said.

Other bricks Monday were dedicated to victims of homicide, victims of drunken driving crashes, victims of assaults, long-time community volunteers and police detectives.

The Rev. Saehee Duran, chaplain with the Springfield Police Department, closed Monday’s event with a prayer in which she applauded the community for joining together to support the names.