Twenty year-old Jackie Johns was a beauty queen and favorite of many Nixa, Missouri, townsfolk. Her beautiful smile and outgoing personality made her favorite Sales Barn Cafe waitress as well.
When Jackie’s car is discovered along a desolate road on the morning of June 17, 1985, it didn’t take much asking for town residents to began searching for the popular young woman. And everyone was shocked when her lifeless, battered body was pulled from Springfield Lake.
Almost immediately, investigators zeroed in on Gerald Carnahan, son of a wealthy business owner who had a crush on Jackie. But try as they may, detectives couldn’t get the proof they needed to charge Carnahan with the crime.
Until 22 years later.
Investigative journalists George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer chronicle the double decade case in their September 2012 book Murder On A Lonely Road.
Beginning with Jackie’s life as a town sweetheart to her shocking murder, through Gerald Carnahan’s life as the favorite son of wealthy parents to his trial for aggravated rape and murder. The authors also cover other cases, presently considered cold cases, in which Carnahan is suspected – including the murder of Debbie Sue Lewis and “the missing three” case of Springfield, Missouri.
There is a fantastic story in Murder On A Lonely Road, well-written and expertly told but, unfortunately, it gets lost in page after page of what I call hero-worship; that is, excessive detailing on the lives of cops and prosecutors involved in a case where it serves no real purpose. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I have the utmost respect for our guys and gals fighting everyday crime but it was just too much.
As I said, however, it is an interesting story. It’s a case filled with twists and turns and one that can serve as an excellent debate topic on guilt or innocence and the validity of DNA testing on two decades-old samples but, for me, so much was lost in, to use my favorite term, fluff and filler.
I won’t make a recommendation on Murder On A Lonely Road one way or another. I’ve presented the pros and cons. Hopefully it’s enough for you to decide whether it’s your kind of book or not.
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