Jackie Johns, the Nixa, Missouri, former beauty queen who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in the 1980s, will be the documented story told on Investigation Discovery’s Swamp Murders. For more than two decades, Jackie’s killer eluded justice. The case was finally solved due to DNA evidence. The successful true-crime series is featuring two back-to-back all-new episodes tonight. The Swamp Murders episode featuring the case of Jackie Johns and the man who killed her, Gerald Carnahan, is called “What Lies Beneath.” Stay tuned as Missouri investigators take viewers on the twists and turns of the 20-year cold case. The story of Jackie Johns is told in the book Murder On a Lonely Road by George Pawlaczyk.
Swamp Murders: “What Lies Beneath”
A young woman vanishes just after leaving her shift at a local convenience store in Nixa, Missouri, leaving her parents frantic with worry. When fishermen find her body days later, it sends the police on a 20-year chase to bring the town’s spoiled rich boy to justice.
In June 1985, Jackie Johns’ nude body was found floating in Lake Springfield in Missouri. It was quite a blow for her grieving parents and her many friends in the town of Nixa. Days before, police located her car, which was left unattended on the side of the road. There was blood inside, and an object, which was later deemed the murder weapon, was found in the trunk, according to Defrosting Cold Cases.
Suspicion quickly centered on Gerald Carnahan, aka Gerry Carnahan, a 28-year old man who was the son of a rich businessman in town. Gerald, who was married at the time, denied knowing what happened to Jackie Johns.
Police suspected Gerald Carnahan because he was seen lurking outside of the store, where Jackie Johns worked her last shift. He was also seen near the scene of the crime.
Everyone in town knew that Jackie Johns had been having trouble with Gerald Carnahan. He seemed to be obsessed with her and followed her all over town. Carnahan took a morbid interest in Jackie Johns when she worked at a local diner as a waitress. She was cordial to him but rejected his flirtations and his interest. Police say her lack of attention angered Carnahan.
Known as an arrogant bully who got whatever he wanted, police were sure that Gerald Carnahan had made it his business to get Jackie Johns to pay attention to him.
Investigators believe that Carnahan watched Jackie Johns until it was time for her to get off work. Then he pretended to have car trouble on the side of the road. Knowing that Jackie would travel down the lonely road, they believe that he may have flagged her down, getting her to stop for him, so that he could abduct her.
An autopsy report shows that Jackie Johns was savagely beaten and raped before she was murdered. Without enough evidence, the case went cold for 20 years. Then, in 2007, DNA evidence was finally matched to Gerald Carnahan. He was arrested and ultimately convicted for the murder. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2010. There is no chance for parole. Jackie John’s sister, Jeanne Johns, made the following statement after court, according to Ozarks First.
“It was hard,” she says. “I did break down toward the end and I admit it. I had so much more I wanted to say but I couldn’t because it was that hard to look at him. I just wanted to make clear that not only that not only did Gerry devastate our family but he destroyed a lot of people. The whole community was affected by what he did. I wanted to make that clear to the judge and I wanted to make clear to him that he did more harm than he could ever know. I had so much more to say, but I couldn’t. It was that hard to look at him.”
Watch Jackie Johns story tonight on Swamp Murders on Investigation Discovery. This week, ID is also featuring the case of former Las Vegas Showgirl Marjorie Orbin. Check your local listings for exact times.
[Featured Image by Investigation Discovery]