The 1995 unsolved brutal murder of Shana Marie Jaros

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About 52 miles from the Illinois state capitol, Springfield sits the small community of Nokomis in Montgomery County.

I grew up about 125 northwest of Nokomis. I have never been there, but I viewed it on Google Maps. It is a typical small Illinois town with cafes, gas stations, and mom-and-pop shops lining East State Street/Highway 16, the main road through town.

It shocks me that I had never heard of this brutal murder of a teenager so close to home until a few short years ago. And the reason for that is evident: There was little media coverage of this brutal murder. It did not reach too far beyond Nokomis that I can see.

So, here is the story of Shana Marie Jaros. You might have read about her, but I wanted to cover it, so here we are.

Shana Marie Jaros was born in Montgomery County on July 15, 1977, to Duane and Debbie Jaros. She has three younger siblings, Janelle, Jeff, and Stefan.

Shana’s parents owned the Time Out Cafe in Nokomis, and her father also worked the night shift at Hillsboro Bottling Co.

Shana graduated from Nokomis High School in May 1995 and worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Golden Manor Nursing Home. She also babysat children in her spare time. Shana wanted to be a nurse one day, working with children or Alzheimer’s patients.

The young woman has been described as an all-around good, warm and friendly person who always wore a smile.

Shana turned 18 on July 15, 1995, and felt it was time to leave her parent’s house. So in late October 1995, she moved into a studio apartment at 527 S. Maple St. Early news reports state that she lived with a female friend, but I am not sure if this is correct.

On Oct. 31, 1995, Shana took her seven-year-old neighbor, Roni Brown, trick-or-treating. Roni’s mother, Kim, worked with Shana at the nursing home. 

Afterward, Shana hosted a small party at her apartment. Guests included her friend Tanya Gilmore, Tanya’s boyfriend, Jason Carver, and a neighbor of Shana’s, Billy Malloy. 

At around 9:30 p.m., Duane Jaros brought Stefan, then 10, trick-or-treating to Shana’s apartment, and she peeked out her window at her father’s car. Duane said he usually would turn the car’s dome light on and wave at her, but this time he did not, something he would later regret.

Shana and her guests were playing cards. Stefan said he saw Carver and Malloy drinking beer, and everything seemed normal. Shana gave him some candy, and he and Duane left.

According to news reports, Shana’s party broke up around midnight.

Shana’s landlady lived next door. Around 6:50 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1995, she noticed Shana’s front door open and went to investigate. She found Shana dead inside; her fully-clothed bloody body lay on the floor between the front door and the wall. A quilt partially covered her body. The landlady ran home and called the Nokomis Police Department.

Police gathered evidence at Shana’s apartment for about eight hours. There were no signs of forced entry or sexual assault.

Shana’s father had just finished working the night shift at Hillsboro Bottling Co. Her mother was already at work, and her siblings were at school.

Duane changed clothes and went to bed. Less than an hour later, the telephone rang. He thought it was in regards to Shana’s car. She had let friends borrow it two weeks ago, and they had wrecked it. 

A few minutes later, Montgomery County Coroner Rick Broadus arrived and told him the tragic news: Shana was dead. Shocked and in disbelief, Duane called Debbie at work and told her the news.

Debbie later said, “The worst part was we sat there all day, and no one came – no police. We were just left there not knowing anything. It was terrible. We heard her body laid there until one in the afternoon. It was way late before we ever talked to the police.”

Shana Marie Jaros: photo of her parents, Debbie and Duane Jaros at a 1998 news conference regarding their daughter's unsolved 1995 murder
Debbie and Duane Jaros in 1998

An autopsy later revealed Shana “had been stabbed 54 times in the chest and neck, and her throat had been slit ear-to-ear,” writes author Jenn Baxter.  She had died from massive blood loss, and the coroner estimated the time of death at around 4 a.m.

Shana’s murder was the first to occur in Nokomis since 1969.

Investigators questioned the three people who attended Shana’s party that night and do not consider them suspects, although the reasons are unclear.

Shana’s apartment building was comprised of six apartments on one level. Her next-door neighbor was out of town. However, a woman who lived on the other side of Shana said she heard some scuffling at 4:46 a.m. but did not hear anyone entering or leaving Shana’s apartment at that time.

Furthermore, no one reported hearing screams or anything unusual coming from Shana’s apartment. 

The murder seemed overkill, suggesting it was a crime of passion and that she knew her killer. Nothing was taken, and she had not been raped. It is logical to assume, due to the location of the body, that Shana had opened the front door to her killer, who immediately attacked her. 

In cases similar to Shana’s murder, the killer is often a female who murdered her victim out of jealousy or rage. But Shana did not have any known enemies and was well-liked by those who knew her. 

The first year following Shana’s murder, investigators received hundreds of tips and interviewed numerous people. They collected over 200 pieces of evidence and sent them to the state crime lab in Springfield and the FBI’s crime lab in Washington for testing. Sadly, forensic experts found nothing that would lead police to Shana’s killer.

In a 2019 interview with Dee Dee Gatton of News Channel 20, Duane Jaros said, “Everybody that had contact with her in the last 24 hours left the state.”

When Gatton asked Illinois State Police Special Agent Randy Custer to confirm whether Shana’s murder was not a random act of violence, Custer replied, “At this point in time, I couldn’t specify or make a determination whether it was a random act or not.” 

Investigators never established a motive for the killing or arrested anyone in the crime; Shana’s murder remains unsolved nearly 27 years later.

The Jaros family established the Shana Marie Jaros Memorial page on Facebook. 

There is a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of Shana’s killer. 

If you have information regarding this case, please get in touch with the Illinois State Police at (217) 324-6212 or Crime Stoppers of Macoupin & Montgomery Counties at (800) 352-0136.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

Shana’s murder was not a random act of violence. Nokomis is a small town, and her apartment sat several blocks away from Highway 16. Whoever killed her knew that SHE lived in that apartment.

Nokomis had a population of 2500 people in 1995. You cannot convince me that people there do not know the killer’s identity. If nothing else, people gossip in small towns. Word surely got around because I can’t imagine the killer has kept their mouth shut for almost 27 years without telling a single soul. 

Stabbing someone 54 times and cutting her throat would be a bloody mess. Blood spatter had to be everywhere. Whoever killed her likely had her blood on them and cut their hand while stabbing her; the knife handle would have been slippery from the blood. Did the police check with local hospitals to see if anyone showed similar injuries?

What evidence did police find in the apartment? What was Shana wearing when she was killed? Was she in regular clothes or pajamas? Did Shana wrap the quilt around her when she went to the door or did her killer place it on her body after killing her?

I think Shana’s killer lived in Nokomis and had knocked on her door; Shana awoke and answered it. As I mentioned earlier, assuming the attack happened after she opened the door is logical. The landlady found her body on the floor between the front door and the wall.

So, robbery and sexual assault were NEVER the motives when the killer(s) headed to Shana’s that night. The killer just wanted Shana dead. That is significant anger.  Whoever the a-hole killer was, there’s no way this person could commit the perfect murder without help covering it up.

Let’s say someone other than the three obvious people killed Shana. Did anyone else see Shana that night? Who were the friends who wrecked Shana’s car two weeks before her death? Could her murder be related to that incident? 

We know the neighbor heard the scuffling at 4:46 a.m. Supposedly, Carver, Gilmore, and Malloy left Shana’s place at midnight. That is nearly FIVE hours. What, if anything, occurred between midnight and the murder?

I don’t think all three people at that party are innocent for a second. I’d like to know why the police do not consider them suspects. According to Duane Jaros, the people who saw Shana during the last 24 hours of her life had left the state. Not just the area, but ILLINOIS. 

I think something happened at the party, and one or all of them returned to kill Shana. How close was Shana to Tanya? Were they best friends or acquaintances? Was Tanya the jealous type? Maybe she thought Shana was flirting with her man. Unfortunately, women have killed out of jealousy.

It doesn’t make sense that the killer was NOT one of the three party guests; it just doesn’t. But you never know.

A person named Dayna Molloy left virtual flowers on Shana’s memorial. She wrote that her first husband’s grandmother, Elsie Mae Delahunt, owned Shana’s apartment building and was the landlady who found her body. Elsie passed away on Nov. 7, 1997, at age 88. Dayna also wrote that Elsie was too scared to remain living alone next to the crime scene. I don’t blame her. How awful!

Malloy was Shana’s neighbor, but did he live in one of the apartments? There were six total apartments. One tenant was out of town; the other heard the scuffling. If Malloy lived in one, that leaves two apartments. Who lived in them?

He was involved in a car accident in 2016 that claimed the life of his wife, Margaret Malloy, 56. He was 53 at the time. So, Malloy would have been 32 in 1995. Shana was only 18. It seems strange that she would hang out with someone that much older than her.

Carver and Gilmore would have been closer to Shana’s age as they are now in their 40s.

As of 2016, Malloy resided in Gillepsie, IL, about 40 miles southwest of Nokomis. At one time, he lived in NYC. It would be interesting to find out when.

Carver and Gilmore reside near Nokomis. I think they got married because Tanya became Tanya Carver. However, I do not think they are still married if they did. Regardless, they have lived in various places in the U.S. since 1995.

I tried finding all three on Facebook, but a million people have the same names. And I’m guessing they keep their profiles private. 

I think 27 years is long enough for the police to remain hush-hush on this case. Please give us more info! This case needs to FINALLY be solved.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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