Murder suspect released | SierraSun.com

Murder suspect released

Robyn Moormeister
Sun News Service

AUBURN “Murder suspect and former Placer County Sheriff’s deputy Paul Kovacich Jr., accused of killing his wife, Janet Kovacich, in 1982, has posted bail and has been released from jail, according to jail staff and the office of Kovacich’s attorney.

“I can confirm that he’s out on bail, and that’s all I can say,” a representative for Kovacich’s attorney, Thomas Leupp, said Monday.

It was the second time Kovacich has posted bond against a total bail amount of $1.5 million.

It was unknown at press time where Kovacich has been living since his release or how he raised the money for bail. Kovacich’s parents were willing to offer their Lake of the Pines home and cabin in Cisco Grove as bond, Kovacich’s other attorney, Clyde Blackmon, said in Placer County Superior Court in a hearing Sept. 7, 2006.

Kovacich’s longtime girlfriend, Dixie King of Foresthill, and Kovacich’s son in Phoenix also wanted to post their homes for bail, Blackmon said at that time.

An elderly woman who answered the phone at Kovacich’s parents’ home in Lake of the Pines said Monday she had “nothing to do” with Kovacich posting bond.

Deeming him a flight risk, Placer County Superior Court Judge Richard Couzens originally denied Kovacich bail at the September hearing.

But Superior Court Judge Robert McElhany granted Kovacich bail in the amount of $1.5 million earlier this month, according to the Auburn Journal.

Kovacich owns a home in Mexico, Placer County Deputy District Attorney Dan Gong said at the September hearing.

During a search of his father’s Lake of the Pines home in 2005, Gong said, police found a safe in a closet containing Kovacich’s passport, four handguns, “a big wad” of foreign currency and $3,000 in United States currency.

“He was ready to go,” Gong said. “He will flee by any means possible. He’s going to get scared and run.”

Kovacich was indicted for murder by the Placer County Grand Jury and arrested Sept. 5, 2006. A county judge set his bail at $1 million. Kovacich posted a $1 million property bond Jan. 23, 2007, and was released, Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Lyke said.

Then DNA tests of a partial skull found nearly 12 years ago in Rollins Lake identified the bone as being that of Janet Kovacich. The skull has a hole behind the right ear near the top of the head, which the county coroner’s office contends was made by a gunshot, The Associated Press reported.

In March, a second grand jury amended the indictment. Officers re-arrested Kovacich on March 22.

The grand jury’s amended indictment alleged the special circumstance of kidnapping and the enhancement of using a firearm to commit the murder. That would make Kovacich eligible for the death penalty, if convicted.

Judge McElhany dismissed the kidnapping charge in June, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Kovacich remained behind bars until July 13, when he posted an additional $500,000 bail bond, Lyke said.

Couzens placed a gag order on the lawyers and investigators connected to the case, forbidding them to talk to the media.

Children were to attend local schools

Kovacich reported his wife missing on Sept. 8, 1982. She was the mother of their two children, then ages 5 and 8.

Janet Kovacich, then 27, reportedly was preparing to end the couple’s rocky marriage and confronted her husband about a divorce on the morning she vanished, according to documents filed by the prosecution and reported by The Associated Press.

Prosecutors allege that Paul Kovacich offered to drive his wife to an appointment to enroll her children at Forest Lake Christian School on Combie Road but instead took her to the reservoir and killed her, according to the AP and research of police reports by Jordan Fisher Smith, who wrote about Janet Kovacich’s disappearance in his 2005 book, “Nature Noir.”

Kovacich’s lawyers contend the hole in Janet Kovacich’s skull could have been caused by some other blunt trauma, the AP reported.

Kovacich, now in his late 50s, is scheduled to appear in Placer County Superior Court at a later date on the charge of murder with the special allegation of using a firearm during the murder.