Prayer vigil marks one-year anniversary of Jane Bashara’s murder

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 31, 2013


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Dozens of friends, relatives and fellow parishioners at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church paid tribute to slain Grosse Pointe Park mother and marketing executive Jane Bashara on the one-year anniversary of her murder during a prayer vigil Jan. 24 at the church.

The solemn service, which lasted about 30 minutes, was led by the Rev. Marianna Gronek. Family members used the Paschal candle, which Gronek said “symbolizes Jesus’ power to overcome … our sorrow and our loss,” to light seven smaller candles, which were placed in a row in front of the Paschal candle.

Through prayers, hymns and readings, participants acknowledged Jane Bashara’s life and mourned her loss. She was said to have been an active volunteer with the church.

“Keep Jane ever present in our hearts, and may we honor her memory, embracing each new day with courage and faith,” Gronek prayed.

The church wardens, chancellor and rector issued a statement for the media on the tragic anniversary that read, “Through our belief in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, we continue to offer prayers for healing on behalf of our sister, Jane, for this whole community, and for all who continue to mourn her loss on the yearly anniversary of her death. Even as we grieve with wounded hearts, we also give thanks for the fullness of joy in which Jane served in our parish ministries and now lives with her Lord, and toward which we faithfully travel in healing and hope.”

Born June 22, 1955, in Mount Clemens, Jane Bashara, 56, was a senior marketing manager for Detroit-based KEMA Services. She had a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Detroit Mercy and a bachelor of business administration degree from Central Michigan University. Well-known and well-regarded for her service to the community — especially through the Grosse Pointe South High School Mothers’ Club, of which she was a past president — she was survived by her two young-adult children, Robert Bashara Jr. and Jessica Bashara, as well as her husband of 26 years, Robert Bashara, her parents, John and Lorraine Engelbrecht, and her siblings, Janet Gottsleben, Julie Rowe and John Engelbrecht.

Jane Bashara’s body was found inside her Mercedes SUV, in an alley on Detroit’s east side, on the morning of Jan. 25, just hours after her husband reported her missing to police. Although, as of press time, he had not been charged in connection with her murder and has maintained his innocence in the case, Robert Bashara was labeled a “person of interest” by Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety early in the investigation, and has thus far been the only person to whom law enforcement have given this designation.

Justice for Jane — a group of Jane Bashara’s friends, colleagues and others who formed last year to campaign for prosecution of those responsible for her murder — didn’t have a comment at press time about the one-year anniversary of her death. However, an anonymous spokesperson for the group said, by email, “We are holding Jane’s children, her family and her cherished friends especially close in thought and prayer during this difficult time and (in) the upcoming weeks, that they may find solace, comfort and strength in each other, and, as one of our members posted so eloquently, ‘… that they find a way to celebrate and remember her without pain but only love.’”

At press time, a sentencing exam for Joseph Gentz, 49 — the Grosse Pointe Park handyman who said he killed Jane Bashara at the behest of her husband — was rescheduled from Jan. 29 to March 1 in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Vonda Evans. A spokesperson for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said Evans told prosecutors and defense attorneys about the adjournment Jan. 23. Gentz, who pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in exchange for agreeing to testify truthfully in future court proceedings, is expected to spend the next 17-28 years in a Michigan prison for his involvement in the homicide.

Meanwhile, Robert Bashara, 55 — who pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder Oct. 11 in front of 3rd Circuit Court Judge Bruce U. Morrow — was slated to spend the next six to 20 years behind bars for trying to have Gentz murdered in jail. At press time, Bashara was incarcerated at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections website. As a level IV security facility, it is the second-highest security level facility in the state; a level V facility is a maximum-security prison.