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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

[CA] After Justice for Janet Kovacich

..."I think ultimately we were pleased to be able to bring to peace the spirit of a young 27-year-old mother whose life and hopes and love for her children were extinguished by her husband"...

Chief Valerie Harris answers questions related to 26-year investigation
Auburn Journal
[EXCERPTS] A 26-year investigation into the disappearance of a missing mother of two came to end last week. A Placer County judge sentenced former Placer Sheriff Sgt. Paul Kovacich Jr. to 27 years to life in prison for murdering his wife, Janet Kovacich, on Sept. 8, 1982. An appeal is reportedly pending, and Paul Kovacich's now adult children are defending their father, saying he is innocent. Law enforcement, however, is reflecting on a case that plagued the community for years and say justice has finally been served. Below Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris answers questions about what the verdict and sentence mean to the department and what they would say to Paul Kovacich... (4.) What was your reaction, and the reaction of the police department as a whole, to the verdict? - "A sense that all of the "teamwork" and efforts by the law enforcement community in this region and beyond brought justice to Janet. So many of us worked the case and never had the pleasure of meeting Janet Kovacich, yet we felt the time investigating the case allowed us to get a glimpse of what a wonderful person she was. Many felt we were able to give a bit of Janet's memory back to her family."... (11.) Anything you would like to say to Paul Kovacich Jr.? - "I would ask that he consider the request from Janet's brother, Gary Gregoire, last week in court. Mr. Gregoire asked Mr. Kovacich to reveal where he put Janet. This will allow family to put Janet in her final resting place and hopefully bring some additional closure and relief from the pain they have suffered for so long. It is just that Mr. Kovacich give Janet back to all of those people that loved her so much." [Full article here]

Brother speaks on behalf of his family
Auburn Journal
By Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
[EXCERPTS] When Jean Gregoire was on her deathbed, one of the last requests she asked of her son was to never forget his sister, Janet Kovacich, and her children. Jean Gregoire and her deceased husband, Leo, had lived the last 19-plus years of their lives searching for their long-lost daughter and died never knowing what happened to her... They died never knowing two of their grandchildren outside of the quick glimpses they would catch watching them walk out of school or driving by their house. And they died never seeing their daughter's killer made to answer for his crime. "The day Janet went missing, my parents' lives basically went on hold and they never recovered," said Gary Gregoire, Jean and Leo Gregoire's only son and Janet Kovacich's only brother. "For my dad, it was like life didn't mean as much to him after that. He just kind of went into a shell"... Gary Gregoire's voice quavered at times with emotion as he described for the Journal the past 26 years of his family's life... He said his mother blamed herself... The struggle to find Janet Kovacich and connect with her two children dominated Jean and Leo Gregoire's life until they died... Gary Gregoire, who said tears streamed from his eyes when he heard of Paul Kovacich's guilty verdict, speculated that if his parents were alive today, they wouldn't have much to say to the convicted man. Instead, they would continue to try to talk to their grandchildren... He said he hopes John and Kristi Kovacich - who were not allowed inside the courtroom during the trial - will review the evidence and transcripts and draw their own conclusion about what happened to their mother, who loved them dearly. He said he will always be there for them... [Full article here]

DESPITE CHALLENGES, LAW ENFORCEMENT NEVER FORGOT JANET KOVACICH Old, new police chief say proud of way investigation handled
Auburn Journal
By Jenifer Gee
[EXCERPTS] Former Auburn Police Chief Nick Willick doesn't remember ever meeting Janet Kovacich but he spent a significant part of his law-enforcement career looking for her. The mother of two disappeared Sept. 8, 1982, and it would take 26 years before a jury convicted her husband, Paul Kovacich Jr., of her murder. "I'm very glad the case finally went to the people and that there was justice," Willick said. "This particular case was probably worked on more than any other case that the Auburn Police Department was involved in"... It wasn't until September 2006, after Willick had retired, that Paul Kovacich was officially named a suspect in the case. It was then that a grand jury indictment him for Janet Kovacich's murder... He admitted that it was "very frustrating" when some witnesses passed away over time... Willick credited many people with helping bring a 26-year-old cold case to a true close. "There have been a number of cases over the years you never forget and this is one of those," Willick said. "For not just myself but for anybody involved in the investigation of the case, it never left their minds. They always felt the need to look at this again. That was the thing I'm probably most proud of. All of the people involved in the investigation, they didn't forget" [Full article here]

'YOU DON'T HEAR OF MANY CASES THIS AGE' District Attorney's Office reflects on Kovacich sentence, verdict
Auburn Journal
By Jenifer Gee
[EXCERPTS] ...[District Attorney Brad] Fenocchio said the range of time between when the mother, Janet Kovacich, disappeared to when the case went to trial, made it more "complicated"... During Paul Kovacich's sentencing hearing Friday, his and Janet Kovacich's children, John and Kristi, spoke in support of their father, the defendant. John and Kristi Kovacich, now 32 and 33, said they were angered to watch an innocent man go to jail and that they've lost faith in the justice system. They strongly criticized the investigation and prosecution of the case. Suzanne Gazzaniga and fellow prosecutor on the case Dave Tellman said they invite John and Kristi Kovacich to meet with their office and review any evidence presented during the trial. Fenocchio said John and Kristi's view was subjective. "I understand and appreciate the sensitivity that the children have to this verdict and to this sentence, but they are very subjective in their review of everything that led to this conviction," Fenocchio said. "The jury, on the other hand, was objective and they made a decision based upon rather than emotion, but based upon logic and based upon the law." When asked to sum up in one word how she felt about the end of the case, Gazzaniga answered, "justice... I think ultimately we were pleased to be able to bring to peace the spirit of a young 27-year-old mother whose life and hopes and love for her children were extinguished by her husband" [Full article here]
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