Clayton, MO (KSDK)-- The long awaited march towards justice has finally come for a Springfield area family, whose daughter was abducted, raped and killed before being thrown into Lake Springfield 25 years ago.
Trial for 52-year-old Gerald Carnahan will begin today in St. Louis County Court, before Judge Michael Jamison. The case was moved to the court in Clayton due to extreme media coverage of the incident in the Missouri Ozarks in southwest Missouri, and the need for an impartial jury.
Carnahan is charged with first-degree murder and forcible rape in the death of 20-year-old Jackie Johns of Nixa, south of Springfield, in Christian County.
Johns was abducted in June 1985 outside a convenience store in Greene County and was never seen alive again. Dozens of detectives investigated the case and helped in the search for the victim.
Authorities located the woman's car the following day and her nude body in the lake several days later. Officials say the woman had been sexually assaulted and bludgeoned with a tire iron before being tossed into Lake Springfield.
Several last minute motions are expected to be decided Monday morning before the jury selection process begins. Opening statements could be heard as early as Tuesday.
Carnahan was long suspected in the case of Jackie Johns disappearance and murder, but was never charged until 2007 when a DNA match linked him to the victim.
If convicted of the charges, Carnahan is facing a life prison term with no chance of release. The death penalty in the case was waived after the elderly father of the victim told prosecutors his family preferred closure in Jackie's death versus a long drawn out appeals process that accompanies capital punishment cases in Missouri.