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Reward fund for murder victim Jackie Johns turns into Nixa scholarship fund

February 13, 2012|edited news release
  • Pictured: Becky Sawyer, Nixa Education Foundation president; Jeannie Johns (Jackies sister); and Kristy (Keltner) Horton, original scholarship board member; receive a check from Nixa School District board treasurer & executive director of finance, Brenda Rantz
Pictured: Becky Sawyer, Nixa Education Foundation president; Jeannie Johns (Jackie¿s sister); and Kristy (Keltner) Horton, original scholarship board member; receive a check from Nixa School District board treasurer & executive director of finance, Brenda Rantz

NIXA, Mo. -- A reward fund established to find the murderer of a teenager from Nixa 27 years ago will live on as a scholarship fund for Nixa High School graduates.  The fund was never used for a reward, and Gerald Carnahan was convicted for the murder in 2010 after DNA evidence linked him to Jackie Johns' murder scene.

In June 1985, a few days before the funeral of Jackie Johns, a reward fund started with a mere $500 for information leading to the person responsible for her murder.  In just a few days that $500 grew to an amazing $11,800.  

Originally set up for six months, the reward fund was extended another six months.  One year later, in July of 1986, no one had stepped forward to claim the reward.  Local banker and Christian County Sheriff, Dwight McNeil, suggested, since no one had claimed the money, it should become a scholarship fund.  

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A letter was sent out to the 265 people who had contributed to the reward fund to see if they wanted their money back.  All agreed the money should be put into the a scholarship in memory of Jackie Johns.  The first Jackie Johns Scholarship in the amount of $300 was awarded to Paul Cox by the directors of fund:  Marilyn Richmond, Kristy Keltner, and Barbara Kreider. 

In 1987, the Scholarship Fund was turned over to Nixa School District.  Since that time, $16,690 has been awarded in scholarships to 29 Nixa students who planned to further their education at a four-year college, a two-year junior college, school of cosmetology, vocation-technical school, or other business or career training school.

The principal of the funds were not allowed to be used for any purpose for a period of 25 years; only the interest was used for scholarship purposes.  Since 25 years have now passed, it was the desire of one of the original board of directors, Kristy (Keltner) Horton, that the funds be transferred to the Nixa Education Foundation. 

On January 23, 2012 the Nixa Education Foundation was presented a check in the amount of $13,442.83, officially turning over the Jackie Johns Scholarship Fund to their care.  Anyone interested in donating to the NEF Jackie Johns Scholarship Fund may do so at www.nixaeducationfoundation.net.

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