Jon David "JD" Harrington
I have talked a few times about the show Cold Justice. It was originally a TNT television show but despite their apparently good ratings was canceled in early 2016. It was recently announced that the network, Oxygen, is picking the show up but there has not been a release date set. While it seemed rather hush, hush about why the cancellation occurred I gander to guess it had to do with the criticism it received as well as because of at least one lawsuit filed against the show. Wikipedia says that as of January 2015, which was after only two seasons had aired of the show they had twenty-one arrests, eleven indictments, four confessions, three guilty pleas and three conviction had been obtained due to the show. While on the surface this all sounds wonderful but despite the fact that I enjoyed the show, if for no other reason to learn about cases I had not heard of, I was one that often criticized things. It seemed almost unbelievable how this crew would go to a town and work with them on cold cases that had been on the books sometimes for decades and by the time the show aired there was often an update that an arrest had been made. There was speculation and claims in court that the network, and/or the producers of the show, pushed to have arrests made or that they would not air the episode. In more than one case I felt there was a complete rush to arrest a suspect and I stated early on that unless investigators got more I did not see a conviction being obtained. In that particular case I was correct. The person was taken to trial and was acquitted.
So often people complain that cases are not solved quickly or that when authorities have a suspect in their sights that an arrest is not made in what they think is a timely manner. Prosecutors more often than not wait to file charges or have someone arrested until they have built a case they are fairly certain they can obtain a conviction. When a case is taken to trial and a defendant is acquitted there are no second chances, at least not generally.
This case was featured on the show and while I have discussed cases that ended in acquittals this was not one of them. The odd thing about the case was that while the victim had disappeared in either late 2002 or early 2003, her body found in 2005 with a definite connection to the defendant, he was not arrested until 2014. This was between the taping and the airing of Cold Justice.
Jon David “J.D.” Harrington and Carolyn Jansen were roommates at an apartment in Aurora Colorado when she disappeared. Exactly when that was is uncertain as some research says 2002 while others say early 2003. Harrington would tell acquaintances that Jansen had seemingly took off and took their rent money. Over the next few years Harrington would move around quite a bit, often staying with friends. At some point in 2004 it seems that he stayed with a friend named Richard Johnson. It appears that while Harrington stopped staying at Johnson's home, he continued to store stuff there.
Reports as to where exactly Harrington's items were stored at Johnson's home, or just how Johnson came to discover something in one of Harrington's containers differ. Some reports say that the items were stored on the back porch of the home, while others says they were in the garage. Some reports say that Johnson began having a smell in his yard and went to search for the source which took him to Harrington's belongings. Other reports say that Johnson was in the process of moving Harrington's things into a shed when the lid came off of a container and a foul smell emerged. No matter how in fact Johnson was led to the Rubbermaid container is less important than what he discovered inside. He would find a blanket but also see what he thought to be a skeletal foot. Johnson would call the police.
Johnson would immediately say that the container was one left at his home by Harrington, who had obviously been on the police radar considering Jansen's disappearance. Forensic testing would determine that the body in the container was in fact that of Carolyn Jansen. A real cause of death could not be fully determined. An examination showed a fracture over her left eye but no way of knowing how it got there or what caused it.
It would be another nine years before Harrington would be arrested on March 10, 2014. DNA had been matched to Harrington on the sticky side of duct tape that had been used to seal the container. That is what ultimately sealed his fate. He of course contended that he was innocent and his defense brought up other suspects such as Johnson himself or even Carolyn's ex husband.
In August of 2015 Harrington was convicted and later sentenced to twenty-five years. According to the Colorado Department of Corrections his first parole date is in November 2025. His projected release date is February of 2026 but he could be in prison until the year 2038.