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After hearing of a letter Malissa Ancona reportedly wrote to the judge admitting she was the one who pulled the trigger, killing her husband Frank Ancona, St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin spoke to her attorney, District Defender Shirley Zipfel. 

“What I think is factual at this point is that Malissa Ancona certainly gave information to investigators during the investigation,” Mahurin said. “She also at one point became a cooperating witness for the state against (her son) Paul Jinkerson Jr.”

Mahurin said she was deposed and was under oath during a full deposition at the county jail many months ago conducted by the attorney for Jinkerson. She gave information at that time that would be consistent with her original statements during the investigation.

“Now when I talked with Ms. Zipfel (Wednesday) night, she was unaware of her client writing the letter and both of us understood there was a correspondence that it was filed, but neither one of us have been able to verify its authenticity as of 10:40 a.m. Thursday,” Mahurin said. “I don’t know if Malissa Ancona wrote it. I don’t know if she wrote it under duress. I don’t know anything other than there is a correspondence that purports to be from her with information.”

Mahurin is waiting to hear from Zipfel on what Malissa Ancona says about the letter. He said there is going to be a suppression issue on it and there is still going to be an issue of whether it’s admissible.

Should the letter be verified that Ancona did in fact write it in a sound state of mind, Mahurin said this could completely nullify any type of plea agreement or arrangement with the state, because she would have perjured herself during the testimony of giving sworn statements.

“Now she would have given contradictory information, because any deal that I cut with a co-defendant in a case, the baseline is you must testify truthfully at all times,” Mahurin said. “Even if it’s not helpful to me, you still have to testify truthfully. So now she is giving, if in fact this is true, it would be contradictory statements if it were true and if she wrote it without being under duress, in the correct mental state and of her own volition.”

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

In a letter mailed to the judge and filed with the courts, Malissa Ancona wrote she was reaching out about her public defender. She said after being represented by two lawyers from the public defender's office she didn’t feel they were doing their job.

She wrote that she couldn’t get her public defender to come see her and she had important information about the case. She stated 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 said that in 2003 the State of Missouri declared her mentally ill. She wrote she needed to speak to a lawyer and that she was told to lie by a 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 Ancona wrote 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 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. He is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution and abandonment of a corpse.

Malissa Ancona has a trial setting scheduled for April 19 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 Malissa 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 Malissa Ancona would have to admit that she sent it, he added.

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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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