Gerry Carnahan, 48, was arraigned Friday morning in Greene County on charges of first-degree murder and forcible rape. Twenty-two years and two months after the beating death of Jackie Johns, police and prosecutors say they have the guy who's good for it.
Carnahan was 28 when Johns died; he's 49 now, and looks several years older. His appearance in court coincided with a written statement from local defense lawyers Dee Wampler and Joe Passanise, who expressed sympathy for the Johns family while entering a not-guilty plea for Carnahan.
The Ozarks was a remarkably different place in 1985 -- much more naive to the awful shock that comes when a woman is abducted and killed. When Jackie Johns' body was found in Lake Springfield on a Saturday morning, five days after she'd disappeared, the dispatcher for the Christian County Sheriff's Department cried, openly and without shame. It seemed absolutely appropriate.
For the next seven years, everytime a woman vanished, Gerry Carnahan was the invoked boogeyman. He wasn't evil incarnate, as many tried to portray him -- but even setting aside the alleged links to unsolved slayings, he was involved in disturbing crimes, including the attempted kidnapping of a woman from Sunshine and Ingram Mill.
Carnahan was sent to prison for four years for that bit of nastiness. He's apparently spent his time since on family business, living much of the year in China.