SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — After a murder conviction 25 years in the making, the families of other cold-case victims are holding out hope for justice.
A jury convicted Gerald Carnahan Thursday for the murder and rape of Jackie Johns in 1985. Johns’ father, Les Johns, received dozens of phone calls from family and friends relieved by the conviction. One phone call came from a father who understands Johns’ pain. Elmer Lewis’ daughter, Deb Lewis, disappeared two years after Jackie Johns.
For decades the two dads wanted answers. They often leaned on each other because their daughters also shared similarities in life and in death.
Jackie Johns disappeared in 1985. Deb Lewis disappeared in 1987.
"I’m sure Les told you this too but there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t think about it,” Lewis said. “You still have pictures in your home but you get by because you know she's in heaven."
Both Johns and Lewis’ cars were found without them inside. “It caught my eye because the parking lights were on the headlights weren't and the driver side door was open,"
former radio news reporter Bob "B.J." Honicutt said. He found Lewis’ car along Highway 160 in 1987. He later realized he found a crime scene. "When her body was discovered I believe in Newton County,” Honicutt said. “It felt really, really weird because I had been just a few minutes behind a possible abduction."
Another stranger found Johns' body in Lake Springfield. "Jackie Johns’ car was full of blood and it had all the evidence in there and Debbie's there was nothing, nothing touched in her car," Lewis said.
Both crimes went unsolved for decades. "I think there (are) always people out there that want to see cold cases solved," Honicutt said.