Jane Bashara Update: Plot Thickens In Murder Case

Feb 01, 2012 | Updated Feb 01, 2012

The investigation into the recent slaying of Michigan resident Jane Bashara, a marketing executive and married mother of two, is heating up this week.

Michigan State Police have shocked the community by naming Bashara's husband, Bob, a well-known local philanthropist and the son of a notable state judge, a person of interest in the case. A mystery woman has also allegedly come forward and is helping police uncover a possible web of deceit.

The unsolved homicide, which is just one week old, already has all the makings of a TV crime melodrama. Is it a case of a love, lust and greed that resulted in a torrid murder plot? Or, is it a random crime -- an instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Today, investigators are still trying to determine which is true.

The Basharas were married for 26 years and lived in a spacious brick colonial home in Grosse Pointe Park. The couple raised two children together -- Jessica, a student at the University of Michigan, and Rob, an engineer for General Electric in Iowa.

Bob Bashara, the 54-year-old son of the late George Bashara, who was a state appellate court judge and served on the Board of Governors at Wayne State University, is known around the area as a prominent local businessman who manages about 50 rental properties. He is also a popular philanthropist. In 2009, Bashara, then president of the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club, received widespread praise for collecting an astonishing one million pounds of non-perishable food, one million pounds of books, and one million pounds of clothing for local and international families in need.

Jane Bashara, 56, was a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy and was senior marketing manager at KEMA Services, an energy consulting company based in the Netherlands. She was once active in a local organization called the "Mother's Club" and was given an award for outstanding volunteer work.

To those on the outside looking in, the Basharas, for all intents and purposes, were living the ideal life together. Or so it appeared until last week.

On the night of Jan. 24, Bob Bashara called several of the couple's friends and family members looking for his wife. He allegedly told them he had returned home from conducting maintenance repairs at one of his rental properties and his wife was not home.

"I got home about five after eight and she wasn't around and I relaxed and figured she was out running an errand. As nine and nine-thirty approached, I became much more concerned and I got more people involved. I called my kids to see if they had heard from her and they hadn't. I had been calling her cell phone to find out and then, as time got on, I involved the police because I was concerned there might be something wrong," Bashara told Detroit's WXYZ-TV.

A work identification card was found inside the house, suggesting Jane Bashara had been there after work, but there was no other sign of her. Bashara's cellphone and purse were also missing and her car was not parked in the driveway.

When she failed to return home by 11:30 p.m., her husband reported her missing.

At about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 25, a tow truck driver on Detroit's east side spotted Jane Bashara's 2004 Mercedes-Benz ML350 parked in an alley. The driver notified police and responding officers discovered her body inside. The location where the vehicle was found is about six miles from the Basharas' home.

An autopsy by the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office revealed Jane Bashara had been murdered. Her cause of death was strangulation.

"I lost my girlfriend and my partner, and it's just absolutely unthinkable," Bob Bashara told WDIV-TV.

Authorities learned Jane Bashara was last seen leaving a business meeting in downtown Detroit at about 4 p.m. the day she was reported missing. After leaving the meeting, she spoke with her daughter on her cellphone while en route to her home. What happened to her after that remains unclear.

On Jan. 28, the investigation took an abrupt shift, when police suddenly conducted a search of the Bashara home. They took police dogs inside the residence and were later spotted leaving with several items. That same day, police named Bob Bashara a "person of interest" in the case. Bashara was interviewed by police for several hours and was given a polygraph examination.

"Bob voluntarily came in, and he continues to cooperate with our investigation," said Grosse Pointe Park Police Chief David Hiller.

Police have not released the results of the polygraph test, but Hiller did say Bashara is "the only person of interest."

The surprise move by police prompted family members on both sides to speak out.

"He's an innocent man," Bob Bashara's sister, Laura Maurer, told The Detroit Free Press. "We know he's incapable of this horrific act."

Jane Bashara's sister, Julie Rowe, agreed: "Their statement is our statement at this time."

WXYZ-TV then reported that Bob Bashara has allegedly been involved in a relationship with an unidentified woman who works at Wayne State University. The newspaper said the woman has been cooperating with police.

The Bashara family has since issued the following statement to reporters:

"The entire Bashara family is in bereavement ... After this terrific tragedy, the family simply asks for prayers, support and respect of their privacy as they try to cope with this family catastrophe."

Authorities today are being very tight-lipped about the investigation and will not confirm or deny media reports about the alleged relationship, or about recent reports that they are close to making an arrest. Hiller said his agency would not be making any immediate comments.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said it has not received a request for an arrest warrant in regard to Jane Bashara's homicide.

Bashara's attorney, John Brusstar, did not immediately respond to a phone call from The Huffington Post seeking comment.

While the murder mystery continues to unfold, some took a break from the chaos of the hunt for the killer to bid farewell to Jane Bashara. Her funeral was held Tuesday at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. During the ceremony, the word "celebrate" was used in regard to her life, a word her sister said she is not yet ready to embrace.

"I hear these words: At peace, Heaven, rejoice, savior, better place -- but I'm not there," Rowe said during the service, according to The Detroit Free Press.

"This is not that time. I will spend the rest of my life celebrating Jane, trying to live up to her expectations, making sure her kids are happy and doing my best to continue her legacy, but I will not celebrate now," she said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified George Bashara as a former president of Wayne State University. He served on the Board of Governors at the university.