One of the most anticipated murder trial in the Ozarks of the past quarter century is underway in St. Louis County after a judge ordered a change-of-venue for a story well-known in southwestern Missouri.
For 25 years, Gerald Carnahan has been the chief suspect in the rape and murder of Jackie Johns, a 20-year-old woman whose sports car was found abandoned — the backseat covered in blood — in July 1985. Several days later fisherman in Lake Springfield pulled her nude body from the water. Witnesses reported seeing Carnahan, now 52, parked in a convenience store lot where Johns stopped before disappearing. In 1986, a grand jury indicted Carnahan for lying to prosecutors and tampering with evidence regarding John’s death. Those charges were later dismissed.
In 2007, Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Sgt. Dan Nash, asked to review cold cases within the department. He was handed the Jackie Johns file and found that authorities had carefully preserved vaginal swabs taken from her body. Nash got Johns’ then-boyfriend to submit DNA and found no match. He then got a subpoena to check Carnahan’s DNA. The result came back positive.
The jury is not being sequestered during the trial, but Circuit Judge Michael Jamison instructed them on Monday not to talk about or research the case on their own and to avoid news reports about the trial. A timeline of the case is here.