27 years after aspiring model Jo Anne Marie Jones went missing, the case can finally be put to rest. 56-year-old Stafford Joel Spicer was convicted of murdering Jones at the Pomona Superior Court October 1st.
Covina native Jones first disappeared in 1985 after leaving her boyfriend’s Long Beach residence on the morning of April 29th. He had last seen her leave for her 1978 Chevrolet Camaro after she spent the night at his house.
Later that day, the boyfriend called the West Covina Travel Agency, her place of work, and discovered that she had never made it to work. Jones’ family never heard from her again and reported her as “Missing.”
Three days after her disappearance, Jones’ boyfriend spotted her Camaro in Long Beach. He followed the vehicle and contacted the police. Upon arriving at the scene, the police found the Camaro abandoned behind a market and were able to identify the driver as Spicer and later arrest him.
Over a month after Jones’ disappearance, her decomposing body was found her on a dirt roadway in the Azusa Canyon area after four hikers returning to their vehicle after fishing smelled a strong odor near East Forks Road, east of Highway 39.
The Coroner’s office determined that she had been stabbed to death. At that time, authorities had insufficient evidence to charge Spicer with her murder, and he was released.
In 2008, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Steve Davis decided to review Jones’ cold case. Upon review, Detective Davis discovered that the blood found on the floor mat and cup holder of the Camaro contained Jones’ DNA. Additionally, a mixture of DNA from the blood stains meant that Spicer couldn’t be excluded as a contributor. Based on this evidence, police could now list Spicer as a murder suspect.
Police discovered that Spicer was now living unemployed in Las Vegas. On March 8th, 2011, LASD detectives and Las Vegas Police arrived at Spicer’s Las Vegas home on the 3000 block of Cabana Avenue and arrested him without incident.
During the trial, Detective Davis convinced the District Attorney to have the jury visit the site where Jones’ body was found, along with several other Long Beach locations relevant to the case. Evidence showed that Spicer had been living in a condominium close to the site of Jones’ abduction. Spicer was probably also familiar with the Azusa Canyon area, having made previous residences in Duarte and San Dimas.
The nail in the coffin might have been a key witness testifying for the prosecution that they had heard Spicer admit to the murder. Pair the prosecution’s evidence with Spicer’s inconsistent story as to how he acquired the Camaro, and the jury was able to convict Spicer of murder.
Along with convicting Spicer, the jury also agreed with the prosecution’s argument that Spicer had killed Jones with a knife while trying to rob, kidnap, and rape her. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan added that he believed that Jones’ murder was a crime of opportunity and that Spicer wanted her Camaro.
Deputy District Attorney Monaghan also took time to thank all who helped get Spicer convicted: “I’m very thankful the jury took the time to consider all the evidence. I’m also very thankful to cold case Detective Steve Davis, who spent several years on the case.” Deputy District Attorney Monaghan’s praise of Detective Davis echoed a statement made by LASD Captain Mike Parker after Spicer was caught in 2011. “The motto of the Sheriff’s Cold Case Homicide Unit is ‘Time is on our side,” said Captain Parker, “Homicide cases are never closed until they are solved.”
Spicer will be sentenced on October 12th at the Pomona Superior Court. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
sgvtribune.com: Ex-San Dimas man found guilty of 1985 murder