GROSSE POINTE (WWJ) – Some potentially key evidence in the murder investigation of a Grosse Pointe Park woman has disappeared.
A report Friday morning said the clothing 56-year-old Jane Bashara was wearing when she was killed is missing, and experts say it might contain the missing pieces that could help police solve her murder.
Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division Director John Collins told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday that its crime lab didn’t get any clothing worn by Jane Bashara.
“This is a disaster. This is like police work 101,” said WWJ Legal Analyst and Talk Radio 1270 morning show host Charlie Langton. “It’s the first thing you collect in any kind of criminal case and clothing could potentially identify the killer in this case.”
Records from the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office show Jane Bashara was wearing black stretch pants, a greenish-blue blouse, slippers and underwear when she was apparently strangled to death and left in her SUV, abandoned in an alley at Pinewood and Annott in Detroit on Jan. 25.
“The crucial pieces of evidence in this case would be the DNA, the blood, which could very well be on that clothing in that car, in that house. But, when you don’t have a substantial piece of evidence like the clothing, that is a big blow to the prosecution’s case,” said Langton.
The medical examiner says the clothes were turned over with the body to a local funeral home in Grosse Pointe. Representatives from the funeral home say in normal cases, blood-stained clothing is usually destroyed and not returned to the family.
Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950, David Griem, attorney for Bob Bashara — Jane Bashara’s husband — said private investigators hired by the family picked up rumors of the missing clothing about a week ago.
Listen to Griem’s full interview:
“They went to the funeral home and the director of the funeral home refused to answer their questions,” Griem said — adding that he’s not sure what is to blame for the loss of evidence.
“I’ve tried not to bash the police. All I can say is that we are deeply, deeply disappointed. We could count the ways, you know, there have been so many such issues in the case and this is just one more,” said Griem.
Investigators are now trying to figure out exactly what happened to that clothing, or if it even still exists.
“The police knew that this was a crime scene right away, that there was going to be an autopsy done, that there was criminal activity all around this case. And so police have a duty to take every single thing that they can get and the first thing is the clothing,” said Langton.
Joseph Gentz, 42, was arrested last Friday and charged Monday with First Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the case. Gentz reportedly told police that he was hired to kill Jane Bashara by her husband – who was named a person of interest early on.
Langton and Griem both said the loss of evidence could be devastating to the criminal case against Gentz.
“The defense could make a motion to throw the case out if there isn’t substantial evidence and that would be a real tragedy here. We’ll have to see if police have other evidence and I suspect that that’s why police went back to the Bashara house to see if they could possibly find that DNA evidence,” said Langton.
“Speaking for the Bashara family, we’re doing everything we can do. We’ve got two investigators working on this case, we’re trying to find Jane’s killer and this is just one more road block in accomplishing our goal,” said Griem.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.