Two people have been arrested and charges have been filed in the death of Frank Ancona which occurred last week. The initial search for the missing Leadwood man led several law enforcement agencies on an investigation in two separate counties.

Malissa Ancona, 44, of Leadwood, who was the victim's wife, has been charged with a class A felony of murder in the first degree, felony armed criminal action, a class D felony of tampering with physical evidence and a class D felony of abandonment of a corpse. Both are being held on no bond. 

Her son, Paul Jinkerson Jr., 24, of Belgrade, who was the victim's stepson, is charged with a class A felony of murder in the first degree, felony armed criminal action, a class D felony of tampering with physical evidence and a class D felony of abandonment of a corpse.

According to a probable cause statement on Feb. 9 the murder occurred at 1124 Mill St. in Leadwood. Frank Ancona was shot and killed inside a bedroom of the home and then was placed into Jinkerson’s vehicle. Frank Ancona's body and his car were taken to Washington County and dumped. The car was found in the Mark Twain National Forest on a service road on Feb. 9, but at that time Frank Ancona had not been reported missing. Later when Frank Ancona was reported missing, the forest service worker who had seen the car earlier notified authorities of where the car had been parked and officers went back to where it was still sitting.

Frank Ancona's body was found in the Belgrade area on the banks of the Big River off Route C on Feb. 11, by a family out for a fishing trip.

A search warrant was served at the Ancona home on Feb. 11 which revealed extensive blood evidence in the master bedroom. Malissa Ancona was present at the home prior to and during the service of the search warrant.

An investigator reported that Malissa Ancona admitted to him in a recorded interview that her biological son, Jinkerson Jr., shot and killed Frank Ancona while he was asleep in the bedroom of the home. Malissa Ancona also admitted that she failed to report the crime and additionally attempted to destroy blood evidence and altered the crime scene in an attempt to conceal what had happened. It was reported that she was acting in concert with her son.

Malissa Ancona was taken into custody Saturday for questioning after the search warrant was served to search the home she shared with Frank Ancona. She was later released and picked up a second time late Sunday evening on a 20-hour hold for investigation.

An autopsy conducted Sunday on the body revealed Frank Ancona died as result of a gunshot to the head.

The story of Frank Ancona's death spread around the globe over the weekend, not because of his disappearance or how or where he died, but because he had long claimed involvement in a chapter of an organization tied to the Ku Klux Klan. But seemingly any involvement with the KKK had little, if anything, to do with his death. 

Frank Ancona was reported missing Friday after his employer reached out to the Leadwood Police Department with concerns of his whereabouts. The employer reported Frank Ancona had not shown up for work Wednesday or Thursday, which was out of character for him.

A Leadwood officer went to the Ancona address but no one answered the door. The officer contacted Police Chief William Dickey, who then went back to the house to investigate further.

When the chief and officer arrived they found Frank's wife, Malissa Ancona, and her son outside the home. They inquired about Frank Ancona and were told by Malissa Ancona that he got a call from his workplace and needed to drive across the state to deliver a part, which is what he did for a living.

Frank's son, Frank Ancona Jr., told police that other family members had not heard from his dad, which was very much out of character for him. A call to the employer verified they did not send Frank across the state on a job.

The officers requested to enter the house. At first Malissa Ancona denied access, but later consented to allowing them to enter. Once inside, the officers found a safe which had been busted open and any contents removed.

It was also discovered that all of the man's firearms were missing except the handgun he carried regularly as a holder of a concealed carry permit.

Malissa Ancona told the police that Frank Ancona told her he was leaving to go out of state on this job and that when he got back he was filing for a divorce. She said he took the firearms with him.

She also said his threat of a divorce was why she had posted a notice on Facebook earlier in the week looking for a roommate. She said with her husband leaving she would need a roommate to share the living expenses.

But other family members living nearby said Frank Ancona would never have taken all of his firearms with him.

The Leadwood officers left the home and put a "check the well-being" alert out to area law enforcement agencies. Shortly after the alert was dispatched, word of the black car being seen outside Potosi the previous day was reported. Officers went to the location and found the car.

“Deputies responded on Friday and located the vehicle and secured it,” said Jacobsen. “We left deputies at the scene and secured it overnight due to the loss of light. On Saturday morning we conducted a search of the area on foot by members of the Potosi Fire Protection District and the sheriff’s office. We didn’t locate much of anything in the woods, but we did locate evidence of a burn pile near Mr. Ancona’s vehicle.”

Later that day Jacobsen reported they executed two search warrants and arrested a male on an unrelated drug warrant out of Washington County. While they were waiting for the issuance of one of the warrants he was notified that they had received a call from a lady who was taking her family fishing. They had located a body near the bank of the Big River outside Belgrade.

“We processed the scene and the body was transported by the Washington County Coroner’s office for an autopsy to determine a cause of death,” said Jacobsen. “The body was positively identified as Frank Ancona and his family was notified.”

The investigation has been handled as a joint effort involving the sheriff’s office in Washington County, St. Francois County Sheriff’s office, the Leadwood Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Saturday around 2 p.m. investigators made their way back to the Ancona residence off Mill Street in Leadwood and immediately put up crime scene tape around the house and blocked off the nearby street while awaiting a search warrant.

Shortly after the search warrant came through several officers searched the home.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department obtained a search warrant for a second address, this one in that county, and searched the home and the homeowner’s car.

Then on Sunday morning the autopsy was performed and it was confirmed the cause of death had been a gunshot to the head.

St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin presented the case to the judge Monday morning and the warrants were signed and served.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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