By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) The man who allegedly drove Joe Gentz to the police station to confess the murder of Jane Bashara called Charlie Langton’s Talk Radio 1270 morning show Friday to say Gentz wasn’t the only one involved.
Steve Virgona, who says he’s a longtime friend of Gentz’s, also reported Jane Bashara’s last words.
“Let’s put it this way, he (Gentz) said Bashara pointed a gun at him and said ‘Do it now'” Virgona said, adding, “Her last words were ‘please don’t do that, ‘please don’t do that.'”
Gentz, a tenant of Bob Bashara’s and reported handyman, is charged with murder and conspiracy to murder, though no conspirator has been charged with him. Police have named Bashara a person of interest in his wife’s death.
Virgona said he gave his own statements to police after Gentz told him his version of the story — and he’s upset that so much of what he told officers and prosecutors has already turned up in the media. Grosse Pointe Park police did not respond to calls seeking comment on Virgona’s story.
The case has captivated metro Detroit and the country — with accusations of infidelity and sadomasochism in tony Grosse Pointe, one of the state’s most affluent communities. Bob Bashara, a building manager and owner, had been married to Jane, a marketing executive, for decades, and they have two children in college.
Jane Bashara was found strangled in her own Mercedes in an alley in Detroit earlier this year, after her husband reported her missing. What happened?
“Joe had physical evidence on his face, he had other evidence that was on him,” Virgona said.
Were there more people involved in the crime? Langton asked.
“I know there is,” Virgona said, later adding, “Joe’s told me for sure that Bob Bashara offered some other people (money for murder), third parties.”
He added his account of what Gentz told him about the murder, saying Bashara told Gentz “you’re going to do the job or you’re going to die with her.”
“He’s very easy to manipulate,” Virgona added. “If there’s anything involved with money or something … he’ll jump right into it.”
A competency hearing for Gentz this week was adjourned until June 11. Verona said Gentz had a “brain aneurysm” at one point, but he’s competent and has passed his competency tests “with flying colors.”
Virgona got involved in the case, he said, after he was watching coverage of the Bashara funeral on TV and realized he recognized people in the footage. The next thing he knew, he said Gentz was knocking on his door.
“Joe got scared, he wanted to take off, but he decided to do the right thing,” Virgona said, adding that he and a pastor friend decided to drive him to police to confess. “He went upstairs, took a shower, put a nice suit on, gave me his jacket, wallet and his watch and all that stuff (and then went to police.)”
What did he tell police? “I want to confess the murder of Jane Bashara, conspiracy to it,” Verona reported Gentz told police, adding, “The police department got video tape.”
Police held Gentz while the media staked out the Grosse Pointe Park department. But after a few days, Gentz was released — before he was arrested again and officially charged.
“That’s something I never understood … I was shocked,” Virgona said. “I can say this if you want to come and arrest me, go ahead. I was shocked because here I am … I’m a main witness to put Bob Bashara and Joe Gentz away and here they give Joe Gentz back to me and I feel like I was a babysitter for a week.”
Virgona also spoke to officers, saying they “kicked him out” of the station three times when he tried to tell his tale, before eventually taking him seriously. He said he was the one who told them to look for DNA evidence in the Bashara garage.
How did he know? “Because Joe Gentz told me,” Virgona said, later adding that’s where Gentz told him the murder happened.