Jana Carpenter Koklich was last seen on August 17, 2001, but was officially reported missing on August 20, 2001. She was a 41-year-old woman from Lakewood, California.
On August 17, Jana attended an Eric Clapton concert with her friends. Her husband, Bruce, claimed that she came home that evening, however, she missed appointments the following morning, and none of her friends or family saw her in the next couple of days.
In 2002, Bruce was arrested and charged with Jana's murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in October of 2003. Her body has never been found.
Jana and her friends attended an Eric Clapton concert in August 17, 2001. Her friends said that she did not drunk at all during the concert because she had an early morning session with her personal trainer the following morning. Her husband said that she arrived safely home late that night.
However, the following morning, Jana failed to show up for her training appointment. She hadn't called to cancel, and her trainer said she hadn't missed a session in 2 years. Even more suspicious, her mother said that Jana never missed her phone calls, but several calls on August 18 went unreturned.
Bruce just claimed that she was extremely busy. He and Jana worked together as realtors with RE/MAX International's Seal Beach office, and he said that August 18-20 were just really demanding days for her, which explained the missed training session and phone calls.
According to Bruce, he last saw her between 6 and 6:30 AM on August 20. He claims to have gone to visit a few properties and attend a funeral, and then returned to the office at 11 AM, but he claimed he grew concerned when Jana wasn't there. He called her phone, and then drove home when she failed to answer his call. This is when he realized she was missing.
He called an unidentified friend from the Long Beach Police Department and the LA County Sheriff's Department at about 3 PM.
A search commenced. The first break in the case was Jana's 1996 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, which was found on August 27. It was parked in a neighborhood around 4 miles away from the couple's home, and the backseat was soaked in her blood.
A group of teenagers interviewed said that they had found the car unlocked and abandoned at 8 AM on August 20 and took it for a joy ride. They rifled through her belongings, which included her cell phone, purse, wallet, and gun. They threw her purse and phone on top of an apartment building and sold her gun. They didn't know the car had been involved in a possible murder investigation.
When a local minister asked for the gun to be returned for $100, no questions asked, someone returned it anonymously, and it was turned over to the police.
A MURDER INVESTIGATION
From the get-go, employees of Bruce and Jana's did not believe that Bruce was in any way connected to his wife's murder. They said that they had a good relationship and didn't believe he would ever harm his wife. Bruce had 2 polygraph exams scheduled, but never showed up for them. He claimed they were unreliable, which is true.
However, Jana's family did not believe that she would just leave without warning. She was very close to both of her parents, including her father who had prostate cancer. He was also California's state democratic senator. He died the following January. Though her parents were divorced, she was their only child. Her family believes that she was murdered sometime after August 17, but before August 20, when she was reported missing. They thought Bruce was involved, but pretended to support him publicly, hoping he would divulge details to them.
Her family believed that he killed her because she wanted a divorce, and he didn't want to split their marital assets. He would have lost 51% of their business in the divorce. Also suspicious, he had taken out a $1 million insurance policy on her life.
Bruce was officially arrested for Jana's murder in January 31, 2002. Her father died before he could see her killer arrested. He claimed he was not guilty.
In the pre-trial phase, a lot of information and evidence came out. Authorities said that Jana's blood was recovered from the bedroom, and a pillow and sheet were missing. They believe she was shot there. Additionally, it came out that Bruce had been visiting prostitutes throughout their marriage, and that Jana wanted to adopt a child and he did not support that.
If you're still not sure, this should seal it for you: After her disappearance, he solicited several female ACQUAINTANCES (yes, people he knew, who knew that his wife was missing) for sex, including HIS OWN 18-YEAR-OLD NIECE. Now, that's bad, but just said... He asked his NEICE to model his MISSING WIFE'S UNDERWEAR for him, and invited her to LIVE WITH HIM! I'm sorry, I understand that we have a system in place for determining guilt and giving people their appropriate punishments... but I think we can agree to jail him based solely on this info?!
Anyway, the trial began in February of 2003 and the jury deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial, leading me to believe the neice-underwear thing was left out. A new trial began and in October of 2003, Bruce was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life.
Jana's body has never been found, and authorities do not believe it ever will be. They do not have any evidence to even know where to look, and Bruce still claims his innocent, so he won't be giving it up.
"There are no words to describe the loneliness I feel without Jana's presence in my life. It is especially devastating not to know where her body is, so that we could have the comfort of a final goodbye to her," Jana's mother, Janeth Carpenter, told the judge during sentencing.
Her father had wanted Jana to be called when he was near death so that she could hold his hand. However, he didn't live to see her killer apprehended. "After it was evident that he would never see his child again, he stopped his chemo and gave up his will to live," said Doris Morrow, her father's girlfriend.
This case hurts my heart. Jana wanted to be a lawyer, but when she met Bruce, she put those plans on the back burner so she could help him succeed. She was okay working in the background, doing all of the hard work to keep their business running while he was on the forefront. "She wanted Bruce to shine," Morrow said.
Back in 2004, when the sentence was read, Janeth said that she believed, one day, Bruce may reveal his wife's whereabouts, perhaps as a parole bargaining chip. However, as of 2020, there is no news regarding his parole or release. It has been over 15 years now, so hopefully, his sentence will be closer to the "life" side than the "15 years" side.
Jana was the light of her parents' life. Her friends adored her. And her creepy ass husband killed her because she wanted to leave his creepy ass. He killed her, but he also killed her father, who didn't want to live in a world without his daughter. He ruined the lives of those who loved her. And he refuses to release the whereabouts of her body, the one thing her parents wish for.
So PSA: Hey, men, don't kill your wives. Okay? For the love of God. Rest in peace, Jana.