NIXA, Mo. — A beloved beauty queen’s murder shakes a small town to its core and it will take more than 25 years before justice is served for 20-year-old Jackie Johns of Nixa, Missouri.
On June 17, 1985, at the end of a long shift at a local cafe, Jackie got into her sports car and drove off into the night.
In the early morning hours of June 18, 1985, a car was found abandoned on U.S. 160 bearing the license plate JACKI-1. The car belongs to Jackie Johns. Upon further inspection, authorities discover the keys are still in the ignition, a purse is left behind, clothes in the back seat, and blood.
Four days later, she was found dead by two fishermen in Lake Springfield and was about eight miles from where she was last seen. Authorities from Greene County, Springfield, and Christian County recovered her body by a boat dock on the northside of the lake. There were signs of serious head injuries.
“The quicker and sooner they get the culprits that are guilty of this, other poor innocent little girls won’t be victimized like our sweet thing was.”
~ Les Johns, Jackie’s Father
Gerald Carnahan was quickly identified as a suspect after being caught giving false information to the police but was not charged for the murder. No one would be able to find an answer for the next twenty-five years.
Carnahan served time in state prison in the 1990s for other crimes, including the attempted kidnapping of an 18-year-old Springfield woman in 1993.
In 2010, thanks to advancements in DNA testing technology, Carnahan was tried and was found guilty of first-degree murder and rape. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.