WHEELING, W.Va. — A Wheeling man decided to plead guilty Monday to two counts of murder just before jury selection was set to begin in his trial.
Gerald Jako, 38, admitted to shooting and killing Trevor Vossen and his pregnant girlfriend Lauren Cree-Jenkins at a house in Wheeling 2018, dismembering their bodies and then taking the remains to Raleigh County and burning them.
Jako told the court Monday he killed the pair out of revenge.
Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak told MetroNews the prosecution was ready for a two-week trial.
“His attorneys had asked for a plea agreement and we had extended one. The state really did not believe he would enter a plea agreement but he did to our surprise,” Turak said.
The plea just minutes before jury selection was to start.
Jenkins was pregnant at the time of her death and Jako was originally charged with three counts of first degree murder. The charge in connection with the unborn child was dropped as part of the plea deal. The prosecution also agreed to drop the body concealment charges.
Turak said the family members of the victims had different reactions to the plea agreement.
“It was bitter-sweet, more bitter than sweet,” she said. “There’s always that desire to see and hear and know everything that happened, as much as the state can prove and I think being deprived that will haunt some family members. By the same token, there is also relief in knowing there is some finality—-and closure is not to be underestimated.”
Turak said what Jako did to the victims was “incredibly brutal.”
“The bodies were discovered chopped into many pieces off of Sullivan Road in Raleigh County,” Turak said. “It was very, very brutal. It was very gruesome, very little remained in the terms of being able to gather clues.”
Turak gives a big assist to the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department.
“They were unbelievable in their tenacity. By the time they knew the case was going to be in Wheeling because the murders occurred up here they put us in fantastic position to take the ball and run with it,” Turak said.
Turak also credits work by Sgt. Rob Safreed of the Wheeling Police Department.
Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims ordered a pre-sentencing investigation Monday. He’ll sentence Jako at a later date. He’ll face two life prison terms.
Jako is already serving a 100-year prison term for a 2018 robbery.