Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery, and the Killing of Jane Bashara

3.43 avg rating
( 81 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780425272428: Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery, and the Killing of Jane Bashara
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

Investigative reporter, and author of Nobody's Women, Steve Miller makes a thoroughly researched inquiry into a murder that rocked the privileged world of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Bob Bashara: husband, father, Rotary Club president and community leader.
Bob Bashara: slumlord, philanderer and BDSM enthusiast.
Did he also hire a hit on his wife?

Jane Bashara lived in Grosse Pointe Park, one of Metro Detroit’s wealthiest communities, when she was strangled to death in her own garage by local handyman Joe Gentz. When Joe turned himself in, he told the cops everything— including how he was hired for a hit by Jane’s husband. His payment: $2,000 and a used Cadillac.

Born into one of Michigan’s elite families, Bob was sweeping out the back alley of a property he owned when his wife was being killed. He made sure the bartenders at the Hard Luck Lounge saw him there at the time of her murder. He’d often brought girlfriends by the same bar, and for the last year had been seen with one Rachel Gillett—riding around town in her convertible, even showing up at BDSM events in the suburbs of Detroit.

When Joe Gentz confessed, his 67 IQ and barfly reputation made him less than credible. Bob successfully denied any part in his wife’s murder. But he couldn’t deny his attempt to have Joe killed in prison.

Includes photos.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Steve Miller is an investigative journalist and has worked as a correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, People magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and the Daily Beast. Miller is the author of three true crime books, including the Edgar-finalist Girl, Wanted: The Search for Sarah Pender. He is also the author of Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in America’s Loudest City  and coeditor of Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

Daniel Defoe, the author of the eighteenth-century classic Robinson Crusoe, is, some claim, the father of the true crime genre for his coverage of Jack Sheppard, a habitual burglar and incorrigible jail breaker who told Defoe his story before his execution in London in 1724.

Defoe’s stories on Sheppard’s deeds were blared across the pages of a local newspaper. The public was duly titillated, and papers were sold.

Realizing he was onto something, Defoe next wrote the tale of a guy named Jonathan Wild, a crime fighter turned racketeer who was also executed. Wild’s tale was one of duplicity; he befriended thieves then turned them over to law enforcement for the reward, a real rat fink. Even the public didn’t dig that kind of deceit, and when he was headed to the gallows, he was pilloried with rocks.

It’s tame stuff compared to today’s sordid crimes, including the one you are about to read. But it proved that people like to read about bad guys.

Murder, while many find it compelling to read of, is never easy to write about. It’s heavy to be in the middle of a project like this and realize that just for a second, you forgot that someone died. That takes you down for a bit.

Crime is almost impossible to understand, and it comes like a tornado to innocent people who think, “It can’t happen to me.” I notice it over and over, and it truly blindsides survivors.

On the more technical end, true crime books are usually eighty-thousand-word crime stories. The writing draws a writer deeper into a story than any five-thousand-word Sunday feature, but it’s the same exercise in many ways.

For Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery, and the Killing of Jane Bashara, I found myself from the beginning talking with Bob Bashara, the man who was ultimately convicted of the murder of his wife.

We exchanged emails and phone calls, which began shortly after his initial arrest on charges of solicitation of murder. I would explain this book to people unfamiliar with the case as a situation in which a guy hired someone to murder his wife and then tried to hire someone to murder the guy who murdered his wife.

“You could get rid of the whole human race that way,” one friend told me. “We could just keep paying people to kill off everyone.”

When you toss in Bob’s acknowledged embrace of BDSM—an expansive acronym folding in bondage, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism—a sexual fetish world that is probably followed by more people than would acknowledge it, the story becomes even more fascinating.

The book Fifty Shades of Grey, a novel by British author E. L. James about young lovers immersed in their devotion to the practice of BDSM, was released to the mass market in June 2011. It was less scary reading about the practice while sitting front and center at the local Barnes & Noble just a few feet from the Starbucks counter. Nothing can be intimidating in that scenario. The popularity of the book speaks of the practice, though, and some people are fascinated by it, even if they don’t practice it.

Jane Bashara’s body was found January 25, 2012, and word of Bob’s other world was quickly revealed. It included a basement room outfitted for bondage and other sexual mischief in a commercial rental strip along a main street in Grosse Pointe Park. The media called it a dungeon and did whatever it could to draw readers with lurid headlines and broadcast teasers.

Lester Holt, introducing an episode of Dateline in May 2012, called it “one of the most unusual cases we’ve ever had.”

I never thought it was all that odd. People live their lives in accordance with the wishes of others far too often; lives of quiet conformity, following the leader into a trap of sameness that is hard to recover from. It’s a set path and a trap ripe for revolt—graduate high school, go to college, decide what to do for the rest of your life, get married, have children, retire, die.

Bob Bashara started this way, walking the trail of so many before him, groomed to be upstanding and to follow the rules. His dad, George Bashara Jr., was a state appellate judge, an esteemed legal mediator and corporate counsel for Federal-Mogul, an international mechanical parts manufacturer.

Bob got married once, briefly, then again. He had the kids, the house. He was a community leader. He worked a solid job selling chemicals for a fine company. His wife, Jane, was an outgoing, generous soul who people naturally liked.

“My whole life is dedicated to giving back,” Bob told a local reporter from the Grosse Pointe News in 1993. “Like Rotary’s motto: ‘Service above self.’ I like that. Everyone in Grosse Pointe should appreciate Grosse Pointe and southeastern Michigan. Parents should be involved with their children and with their children’s education.”

He believed that, I am sure.

But the mind is a slippery thing and can get away from you if you’re not careful. Somewhere, Bob’s wires got crossed; a little short circuit, perhaps.

He began to find himself attracted to things that were rather out of the ordinary while living out an antiquated notion of the American Dream.

He liked the idea of dominating someone in a sexual way. While working on this book, sometimes after conversations with Bob, I tried to think how his mind must have fucked with him as he lay in bed in his four-bed, four-bath, 3,400-square-footer in that upscale neighborhood, the kids sleeping down the hall, Jane blissfully unaware of her husband’s proclivities. Jane, by the way, was clearly the dominant in the Bashara marriage. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless your spouse feels stifled and takes action.

You want to think his course of action, which felt so good, scared him, but maybe it didn’t. Many people believe he is a sociopath. If so, it would allow him to rationalize his thoughts away, much like you can try to explain a scary noise in the forest off of a lonely, dark, wooded path.

That couldn’t be a bear thrashing in those woods. They don’t even come out this time of year, right?

For Bob, they came out all the time, and his sexual proclivities slowly started to rule him. He created an alternate identity, Master Bob. He went online to the websites that cater to “the lifestyle,” as it is politely described. That term applies broadly, from your common swingers to the BDSM games that Bob gravitated to.

Bob was into it. Really into it. Later on in this book, you’ll read about his games and the women he scared nearly to death. They tell me they didn’t like it, that Bob became crazed once he was given that power, once he had them bound and helpless.

Hollywood does movies that lampoon and ridicule the suburban life and for good reason. Drive down a soulless, treeless street pocked with boxes that masquerade as homes, all outfitted with seventy channels, central air on seventy degrees, windows and doors shut, and you should be afraid. These seem to me to be petri dishes of mayhem, if not in deed then at least in thought. I understand that contentment can be found under the rooftops. But if you are huddling under there for the wrong reason, well, that could very well flick the switch of weird and send someone looking for something to scratch a whole different itch.

American Beauty, The Truman Show, and Revolutionary Road all paint these benign streets as the hovels of victims, turmoil, and potential dissent.

Bob became a secretive, X-rated version of Lester Burnham, Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty. Instead of outright defying his circumstances, he decided to keep them and create a second universe.

He found girlfriends who shared his affinity for the lifestyle. And that wasn’t enough. The whole escapade into BDSM became a psychological mind-fuck that drove him crazy, this conflict of obsession and addiction to a scene and the synapses that fire in the throes of arousal.

After he was arrested for solicitation of murder, Bob and I began to email each other. He was certain he was a victim, and I suppose he was, in a way.

On February 5, 2013, he wrote to me from prison:

I love my family and try to reach out as often as I can . . . As for my wonderful son, i am soo very proud of him, his work ethic and just the man he is becoming . . . Jane and I worked very hard with both kids, giving them every advantage possible in their young lives.. my daughter is also a wonderful lady, and can debate with the best . . . i see her as a Senator, someday . . . I was shocked to read an article wrought with outright lies and misconceptions, as they need to continue to debase me and drag me thru the muddy waters of life . . . I must go, but know it is not press or fame I seek, but only to get back to a life interrupted by a senseless act, by a man I was trying to help. Had I know how sick he was, i would have never associated with him. Finally, if you do happen to reach out to my son, tell him how much I love him and I hope he is well . . . and did he get my letter, sent also for jessica . . .

I’ve met a number of killers and other bad folks. Some were just like Bob, living in nice houses, raising fine children until—snap—the thing came crashing down by their own hand.

Today, Bob still maintains he never hired anyone to kill his wife.

“I’ve talked to a number of people in here,” he told me one day in a jailhouse phone conversation. “And they all said they could understand how I would hire someone to kill the guy who killed my wife.”

One gorgeous fall day in 2013, October 21, I went to the jail in Wayne County, downtown Detroit, for a visit. As government buildings in Detroit go, it was nicer than average. No scowling guards barking orders, no rush to get in as there is across the street at the county courthouse. I simply filled out my information on a clipboard, was verified as being on Bashara’s visitor list, and entered the jail, walking into an elevator that took me to the seventh floor. I walked into a booth with a piece of glass and a phone, just like in the movies. There he was, dressed in jailhouse green scrubs, a clear plastic ID bracelet on his right hand. He was tall and unshaven. “They never got me my razor today,” he explained right away, aware he was looking grizzled. He said the lack of a shave was part of being in county custody rather than state. He had recently been moved back to the county from the state in order to be closer to his legal counsel.

“At the state they let us keep them, but here, I mean, can you imagine? This is short term. Who’s gonna kill themselves?”

We talked about the news and something that had recently come out that I found to be one more ratings grab: Bob had been accused of molesting a young female relative in 1995. The Detroit News had obtained a police report that stated Bashara faced second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges after the five-year-old told her parents that Bashara had twice caused her hand to touch his genitals, one time while wrestling in his bed and one time while she was being spanked in his home.

I was dubious when I read the story, which stated he had passed a lie detector test.

“Two tests,” Bob corrected, his face ashen. I did believe him, right? I actually did. If it’s a big deal when one fails the polygraph, it should also be a big deal when they pass.

During a lull in our conversation, which we were both aware was being taped by the county, he held up a yellow pad with a short yellow pencil and a message that he did not want recorded: it read there was a “conspiracy” to get him, and “we have 12 examples.”

“There were reports that my car was seen backing out of my driveway that night of Jane’s death,” he said. But those reports all disappeared.

“What happened to those?” he asked me. I shrugged.

He had an answer.

“The police put that out there to see if it would get me to confess. But there was no way I was there at the time they claim Jane was killed,” he said.

To the end, Bob wants to be understood as a good man who had bad things happen to him. It just doesn’t work that way, though.

You just can’t explain it away like that. The justice system, such as it is, found him guilty. He is guilty.

As I worked on this book, I made the acquaintance of Rachel Gillett, the mistress that Bob was wooing when Jane was murdered.

She was reluctant but willing to tell her side of the story. We met on the patio of a Starbucks and talked about her ordeal.

“I have trust issues,” she told me almost as soon as I sat down with my iced coffee. She wanted nothing, only to talk and ensure that her story is fairly represented.

The bottom line, she said, is that she was completely hoodwinked by Bob. She thought throughout her entire three and a half years with Bob that he was estranged from Jane, as he represented himself first as widowed, then separated, on the brink of divorce, and finally divorced.

She was believable and kind, naïve to say the least, and completely embarrassed by the entire debacle. You’ll meet her in these pages, and her story is presented, her life described. A lost soul looking for something that she thought she’d found in Bob.

And she never asked me, as so many people do, for a dime. I wish I could say that about others.

There is an ugliness that these books bring out in people, and it’s no doubt partially attributable to the macabre circumstances.

Bashara’s longtime connection to the pillars of Grosse Pointe high society made it sometimes comical to watch the “get away quickly” sentiment.

“I am NOT allowing any use of any photo/image on that URL you sent in the below email,” came a response from a fellow who had taken a number of shots of a grinning Bob Bashara for the Rotary Club. I had inquired about using one for this book. I was impressed with the yelling of the word “NOT.”

Then there were the in-laws from long ago. Bob was married at a young age to a young lady named Priscilla Langs, in 1981, when she was twenty-one and he was twenty-three. The union lasted about a year.

I called Beverly Langs, Priscilla’s mother, as part of the reporting. She was as ugly as I’ve had to deal with.

“I don’t say a word without money,” she said, portraying the bottom rung of greedy America, where a home run ball is not handed back to the hitter as its own reward but instead shows up on eBay.

Journalists can’t pay for information, interviews, or time. It is simply unethical, a situation in which the subject becomes an employee and can then say anything, or at least the interviewer can make the story fit any scenario that he or she would like. Besides, what kind of journalist has to pay for information? May as well hang it up if that’s your game. Or move to England, where such a practice is in keeping with the gossipy flavor of the reporting.

But Beverly assured me that several media groups had paid her—$1,500, to be exact.

“I’m sorry to hear that things have gotten so bad for you,” I said.

“Yes, they really have,” she replied. “Now, are you going to pay me?”

“No,...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Monky Business: briansmonky
(Worcester, MA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427 Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery, and the Killing of Jane Bashara = Ask about discounted shipping available when multiple items are purchased at the same time. FAST, RELIABLE, GUARANTEED and happily SHIPPED WITHIN 1 BUSINESS DAY!. Seller Inventory # MX18-0459

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 2.21
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Steve Miller
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Omega Books and More Inc.
(Springdale, AR, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. FAST shipping, FREE tracking, and GREAT customer service! We also offer International and EXPEDITED shipping options. Seller Inventory # 3D7DSF0024LW

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 4.74
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley Pub Group (2015)
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley Pub Group, 2015. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # KS-9780425272428

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 4.98
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

MILLER, STEVE
Published by Penguin Random House
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Random House. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 0425272427

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 5.81
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.60
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley Pub Group (2015)
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley Pub Group, 2015. PAP. Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IB-9780425272428

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 5.47
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

6.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Qwestbooks COM LLC
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427. Seller Inventory # Z0425272427ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.48
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

7.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Best Bates
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427. Seller Inventory # Z0425272427ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.48
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

8.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427. Seller Inventory # Z0425272427ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.48
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

9.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427. Seller Inventory # Z0425272427ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.48
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

10.

Miller, Steve
Published by Berkley
ISBN 10: 0425272427 ISBN 13: 9780425272428
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Mega Buzz
(Bensalem, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Berkley. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0425272427. Seller Inventory # Z0425272427ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 9.48
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book