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Two indicted in connection to 2018 murders

From STAFF REPORTS

WHEELING — Two people have been criminally charged in the ongoing investigation into the 2018 murder of a couple and their unborn child.

The Wheeling Police Department and Ohio County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday that Gerald Wayne Jako, Jr., 36 of Wheeling and Dana Marie Bowman, 33 of Wheeling both were indicted on three counts of murder and two counts of concealing a deceased human body. The Ohio County grand jury returned indictments on the pair Monday.

Jako and Bowman were indicted in connection with the investigation into the deaths of Trevor Vossen, Lauren “LuLu” Cree-Jenkins and her unborn child.

Jako currently is serving a prison sentence on unrelated charges at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Mount Olive, W.Va. Bowman was arrested Thursday by the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force in Wyandot County, in northwestern Ohio. She is currently incarcerated at the Seneca County Jail in Ohio.

Jako and Bowman are the second and third people to be charged in connection to the murders. In late July, Wheeling police arrested Brendon Barbour, 34, of Idabelle Avenue, Wheeling, who was charged with two counts of concealing a deceased human body and two counts of aiding a felon, both felonies.

Barbour is accused of having helped dismember the bodies of the slain couple. Their remains were recovered on Aug. 16, 2018, along a rural road in Raleigh County, along with a reciprocating saw, scissors, and a kitchen knife. The couple were identified through dental records, and had been reported missing since Aug. 3, 2018.

Barbour posted $25,000 bond from the Northern Regional Jail and is out on bond, while being tracked via GPS monitoring. His original bond of $100,000 was lowered shortly after his arrest.

According to court records, two witnesses told police that Barbour had gone to a residence at 2727 Wood Street, to bring drugs to the residents there. Once there, Barbour allegedly assisted in cutting the bodies of Vossen and Jenkins to pieces. Police say the witnesses provided facts that would only have been known through discussion with someone at the crime scene.

Police records indicate that Barbour had approached Wheeling police in September 2018, wanting to speak about the case but demanding “a deal” before he would. Police say that Barbour seemed to want to cooperate, but had seemed reluctant and afraid. Barbour apparently stepped out for a smoke break and never returned.

Jako was convicted in 2019 on robbery charges in connection to his 2018 robbery of the State Line Cafe in Valley Grove. His 100-year sentence was upheld by the state Supreme Court in June. Jako was identified by the witnesses as one of the two people Barbour had brought drugs to in his criminal complaint, which was filed on July 29.

On June 25, Wheeling Police and the Ohio County Prosecutor’s office held a joint news conference to discuss details of the 2018 homicide case in an effort to further the investigation. Tips generated following the news conference led to effective information, which was presented to the grand jury that convened as regularly scheduled this past Monday.

“This week’s indictment means we are a step further in this case, but our work continues,” said Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger. “Thanks to the ongoing support from our community and local news outlets, law enforcement successfully gathered additional information to obtain a grand jury indictment in this years-long case. Once again, I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Prosecutor’s Office, the Raleigh County, W.Va. Sheriff’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners.”

Bowman will return to West Virginia after an extradition hearing in Ohio. Both will be then arraigned in front of an Ohio County circuit court judge at a later time. As of Friday afternoon, no date for either arraignment has yet been set.

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