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The Sadist, the Hitman and the Murder of Jane Bashara
By George Hunter and Lynn Rosenthal
Exposit Books (2018)
Robert “Big Bob” and Jane Bashara were a seemingly perfect couple, respected members of Detroit’s upscale suburban Grosse Pointe community. Bob, a businessman, Rotary Club President, church usher, soccer dad, and philanthropist. Jane, the senior manager for an energy firm, who organized charity events with her husband. They had two children and had been married for 26 years.
On January 24, 2012, Bob filed a missing person report with Grosse Pointe Park Police—Jane was missing, last seen by co-workers that afternoon. The next morning, a tow-truck driver discovered her body in the backseat of her Mercedes, parked in an alley on Detroit’s east side. She had died of strangulation, her broken fingernails indicating she had fought for her life.
After a high-profile trial spanning several weeks, with testimony from more than 70 witnesses (including his children, and former mistress) Bob Bashara was convicted in December 2014 on five felony counts, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
But Bob had not killed Jane himself; he had hired Joseph Gents, his developmentally disabled former handyman, giving him $2000 and a used Cadillac for the job.
During the sensational trial, the shadowy side of Bashara’s life came to light. Posting ads on online BDSM forums (“Kneel and have all your desires and cravings opened to you…are you ready for Master Bob?”) he sought sex slaves to rule over in a “dungeon” in the basement of one of his properties. The substantial cost of attracting and maintaining a harem of submissives, and feeding his own cocaine habit, had furnished the motive for Jane’s murder: her sizeable retirement account.
Veteran Detroit crime beat reporter George Hunter and his wife Lynn Rosnethall’s meticulous account tells the complete story of the crime, the nationally watched investigation and trials, and the lives that were affected.
In August 2020, Bob Bashara died in prison at age 62.
The case was featured on the NBC true crime series American Greed: Deadly Rich in 2019 (S1 E102 “The Dungeon Master”)