Buried body found on rural farm in Warrensburg leads to wife's arrest

Posted at 4:28 PM, Apr 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-25 17:16:24-04

A Knob Noster, Missouri woman has been arrested for the murder of her husband.

Jema Donahue, 31, was first charged with second-degree murder in the death of 31-year-old Javon Donahue. On Monday, April 24, additional charges were brought against Jema Donahue in her husband's death. She also faces charges of armed criminal action, abandonment of a corpse, unlawful use of a weapon, concealing a felony, and tampering with evidence. 

According to a release from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Javon Donahue's body was found buried on a rural Johnson County farm.

According to a probable cause statement, Jema Donahue admitted she killed her estranged husband in her basement with a 22 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Jema Donahue also told officials that her mother and another man helped her dispose of the body. 

Ricky W. Armstrong, 50, is charged with tampering with evidence by helping dispose of the victim’s body. His bond is set at $75,0000 cash-only. He is currently in custody, according to a news release from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Margaret “Peggy” Heffernan, 60, is charged with destruction of evidence and abandonment of a corpse. Her bond is set at $75,000 cash-only. Heffernan surrendered to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office with counsel. She is also Jema Donahue’s mother. 

Jema Donahue was detained shortly after discovering the body.

Multiple sources told 41 Action News that Jema and Javon Donahue moved back to Missouri after Christmas after spending several years in Pennsylvania.

It's unclear how long Javon had been missing. 

41 Action News was able to get hold of an old family friend from Pennsylvania. She wanted to remain anonymous but agreed to a short phone interview. She said she was shocked and heartbroken by the news and that she can't imagine Jema hurting anyone. Although, she was also one of two sources who alleged Javon had been abusive towards Jema for several years.

"She's a wonderful person," said the family friend. "She's a wonderful mother. She's a very hard-working woman. She would do anything for anyone. I cannot see her harming anyone. I just don't believe that she would be part of this. He was very abusive from what I understand. And I know she had bruises on her. She wouldn't talk about it. I know she kicked him out a couple of times here and asked him to leave because she was always the bread winner. He never wanted to work."

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said they will provide more updates on Monday. 

Jema Donahue's bond is set at $250,000 cash-only. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Officials from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Warrensburg Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Kansas City Police Department are taking part in the investigation.