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There has been a turn of events in the case of the murder of Frank Ancona after his wife submitted a letter to the courts admitting she was the one who pulled the trigger, not her son, like she originally claimed.

During initial interviews after the discovery of Frank’s murder, Malissa Ancona claimed her son, Paul Jinkerson Jr., shot and killed Frank while he was asleep in the bedroom of their Leadwood home. Malissa 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.

In a letter mailed to Judge Wendy Wexler-Horn and filed with the courts, Malissa wrote she was reaching out about her public defender. She said after two lawyer's from the public defender's office she didn’t feel they were doing their job.

Malissa wrote that she couldn’t get her public defender to come see her and she has important information about the case. She discussed that she should have already had an evaluation with a therapist more than a year ago and should have been put back on her medication.

She stressed that in 2003 the State of Missouri declared her mentally ill. Malissa wrote she needed to speak to a lawyer and that she was told to lie by her prior attorney.

She wrote that she was under the influence when she spoke to the detective and couldn’t recall what happened the night her husband was shot.

Malissa said her son was innocent and she wanted to let the court know that he did not pull the trigger ... that she did. She ended her letter stating that she felt if her public defender couldn’t do her job she would like to fire her and get someone else.

According to a probable cause statement on Feb. 9, 2017, 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.

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, 2017 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, 2017 which revealed extensive blood evidence in the master bedroom. Malissa Ancona was present prior to and during the service of the search warrant.

Jinkerson has a trial set for May 5-6, 2019. He is charged with first degree murder, armed criminal action, tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution and abandonment of a corpse.

Malissa has a trial setting scheduled for April 19, 2019 at 8 a.m., and is facing charges of 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.

Eric Barnhart, one of Jinkerson’s attorneys, told a St. Louis reporter that Malissa Ancona’s claim in the letter was contrary to what she said in a deposition, when she did not admit pulling the trigger.

Barnhart said Ancona told him that she had been offered a plea deal by prosecutors that would reduce her murder charge to second-degree and cap her potential prison time at 20 years, if she testifies truthfully.

Asked if the letter could be used in Jinkerson’s defense, Barnhart replied, “I would say that.” But Ancona would have to admit that she sent it, he said.

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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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