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Video: New questions emerge in murder of Jane Bashara

  1. Transcript of: New questions emerge in murder of Jane Bashara

    ANN CURRY, co-host: Anyway, we begin this half-hour with the mystery surrounding the murder of a successful marketing executive. A family handyman has been charged with the crime, but are investigators now going after someone else? NBC 's Craig Melvin 's in Grosse Pointe Park , Michigan , with details on this. Hey, Craig , good morning.

    CRAIG MELVIN reporting: Ann , good morning to you. Jane Bashara met a gruesome death. The mother of two was found strangled inside her abandoned Mercedes . Her husband, Bob , has maintained his innocence from the beginning, but there are reports this morning that he led a dark double life and may have even been involved in his wife's death. Inside his ritzy Grosse Pointe home, Bob Bashara 's future is in question.

    Mr. DAVID GRIEM (Attorney for Robert Bashara): Robert Bashara , his children and I are treading water in a lake full of sharks.

    MELVIN: It's a horrifying, bizarre case that's shocked this affluent Detroit suburb. It started in January when Jane Bashara , a mother of two, was found in this Detroit alley, dead, inside her Mercedes SUV . The successful marketing executive had been strangled. Days later police named Bob Bashara , her husband of 26 years, a person of interest .

    Mr. BOB BASHARA: We loved each other.

    MELVIN: While their marriage wasn't perfect, Bashara insists he would never hurt his wife.

    Mr. BASHARA: The fact that they've named me the person of interest is unthinkable to me, that they think I could harm my sweetheart.

    MELVIN: Then a strange twist. Family acquaintance and handyman Joe Gentz reportedly confessed to the gruesome crime and said Bob Bashara had paid him cash and this old Cadillac to kill Mrs. Bashara .

    Offscreen Voice: You're under arrest for the murder of Jane Bashara .

    MELVIN: Police didn't confirm the confession, but Gentz was charged with murder. He's mentally disabled, according to reports. Experts say that could complicate this case.

    Ms. BETH KARAS (Legal Analyst, truTV): It's definitely a hurdle for the prosecution to deal with a handyman who has psychological issues.

    MELVIN: And another problem, questions now swirl about what some call Bob Bashara 's sordid double life , allegedly involving the underground world of sadomasochism. Bashara denies the allegations of an S&M lifestyle.

    Mr. BASHARA: I don't want to get into that because I have my children to worry about.

    MELVIN: As for the murder, the mystery remains and prosecutors did not confirm nor deny a potential arrest.

    Unidentified Woman: There's a number of ways prosecutors can look at this, but the point is they don't have direct evidence.

    MELVIN: With each passing day, the saga takes its toll on the Bashara family.

    Mr. GRIEM: He's not doing well. He's got two children that are devastated.

    MELVIN: Now, again, prosecutors are not saying much about more potential charges, only telling NBC News that the investigation into the murder continues. Meanwhile, as for that handyman, Joseph Gentz , he will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is competent to help in his defense. He is expected to be in court next month. Ann :

    CURRY: All right, Craig Melvin . Thank you so much for your reporting on this story. It is now 7:34. Here's David.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/10/2012 10:22:12 AM ET 2012-04-10T14:22:12

It's a murder mystery that's rocked America's auto capitol. A Detroit marketing executive was found strangled to death in her car, and a family acquaintance reportedly confessed to committing the crime — alleging he was paid by the victim’s husband.

In late January, Jane Bashara, 56, who lived with her husband in the tony Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Park, was found dead in her Mercedes SUV in a downtown Detroit alley. While police named her husband Bob Bashara as a person of interest, handyman Joe Gentz was charged with murder after reportedly telling police that Bashara paid him $2,000 and an old Cadillac to kill his wife. Police did not confirm the confession, and reports suggest that Gentz, 48, is mentally disabled.

Authorities continue to probe the case with an eye toward possibly charging Bashara for involvement in the slaying. A report from NBC's Craig Melvin that aired on TODAY Tuesday examined claims that Bashara had lived a dark double-life that may ultimately end up in charges for his wife's death.

Contacted by NBC, prosecutors would neither confirm nor deny potential charges against the 54-year-old, saying, "The investigation into the murder is continuing." But the Detroit-area newspaper The Macomb Daily reported Sunday that Bashara may be charged within the next 10 days.

Meanwhile, Bashara's attorney told NBC’s Detroit affiliate WDIV-TV that the cloud of suspicion hanging over his client's head has been hard to bear for the family, which includes two children.

"Robert Bashara, his children and I are treading water in a lake full of sharks," attorney David Griem said.

Reports from Detroit surfaced that Bashara may have been having an affair with a woman employed at neighboring Wayne State University and that she, along with another woman, may have been involved in the underground world of sadomasochism, laying bare possible motivations for his wife's murder.

But Bashara told WDIV while his 26-year marriage to Jane wasn't perfect, it's beyond the imagination to believe he was responsible for her murder.

"The fact that they've named me the person of interest is unthinkable to me," he said. "That they think I could have harmed my sweetheart.

'We...we...loved each other."

Bashara has denied allegations he engaged in an S&M lifestyle, and told WDIV, "I don't want to get into that, I have my children to worry about."

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But authorities in Detroit have been examining evidence and building their case for more than two months. Gentz was charged with Bashara's murder on March 2, but reports that he is mentally disabled are throwing a cloud over the case. Legal analyst Beth Karas told NBC News Lentz's mental capacity could complicate the murder case.

"It's definitely a hurdle for the prosecution to deal with a handyman who has psychological issues," she said.

And the case could well come down to whether Gentz's story that Bashara hired him to murder his wife is believable, criminologist Casey Jordan told NBC. "There's a number of ways prosecutors can look at this, but the point is they don't have direct evidence."

Still, being a focus of his wife's murder investigation has taken its toll on Bashara and his family, his attorney, Griem, said. "He's not doing well...he's got two children that are devastated."

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