Convicted murderer Bob Bashara dies

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published August 21, 2020

 Robert "Bob" Bashara appears in a Michigan Department of Corrections photo taken Feb. 18, 2020.

Robert "Bob" Bashara appears in a Michigan Department of Corrections photo taken Feb. 18, 2020.

ANN ARBOR — Robert “Bob” Bashara — the former Grosse Pointe Park man who was convicted of orchestrating the January 2012 murder of his wife, Jane, at their home — has died.

Bashara, who was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole in January 2015 for first-degree murder in the brutal slaying, died at an Ann Arbor-area hospital Aug. 17 at the age of 62. Chris Gautz, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said Bashara had been hospitalized since July 26.

“I cannot talk about the cause of death due to HIPPA,” the law that protects the privacy of a patient’s medical records, Gautz said by email.

Bashara was known to suffer from diabetes. As to whether his death might have been related to COVID-19, Gautz said he couldn’t comment on that, but he added that there were no positive cases of the deadly virus at the prison where Bashara had most recently been incarcerated, the Woodland Center Correctional Facility in Whitmore Lake.

Bashara’s murder trial garnered national attention after it was revealed that he had his wife killed so that he could start a new life with his girlfriend, a woman he had met while participating in the BDSM lifestyle. The sensational and salacious nature of Bashara’s secret life — details of which came out during a lengthy trial in Detroit’s 3rd Circuit Court — often overshadowed the tragic loss of Jane Bashara, 56, a respected, successful marketing executive and loving mother who volunteered at her children’s school and was active in other capacities in her community and church.

Jane Bashara’s mother, Lorraine Engelbrecht, fought tears as she addressed the court during Bob Bashara’s sentencing hearing in 2015.

“I miss Jane terribly every day,”  Engelbrecht said. “There will never, ever be closure for what he did to my daughter. … Every day of my life, I ask why didn’t he just go and live his scummy dungeon life and leave my daughter and my grandchildren alone.”

Engelbrecht died in January 2019 at the age of 87. Her husband, John, preceded her in death, passing away in March 2014, less than a year before a jury would find Bob Bashara guilty of the murder of his daughter.

Joseph “Joe” Gentz, 56, a handyman who had done work for Bob Bashara, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 3rd Circuit Court in December 2012, for which he was sentenced to 17 to 28 years behind bars in a Michigan prison. Gentz, who said Bashara offered him money and an old Cadillac in exchange for killing Jane Bashara, said that when he changed his mind about committing the crime, Bashara pulled a gun on him and forced him to beat and strangle Jane Bashara to death in the garage of their home on Middlesex Road. Gentz, who was being held at the Muskegon Correctional Facility at press time, could be eligible for parole as early as March 2, 2029. 

Throughout his trial and a series of unsuccessful appeals, Bob Bashara insisted he was innocent, despite the volumes of evidence prosecutors presented in the case against him.