JD Harrington Killed Carolyn Jansen, Left Body in Rubber Tub for Years, Jury Says

In November 2012, we published a post entitled UNSOLVED MURDERS IN COLORADO: READ TEN MORE PERSONAL STORIES OF VICTIMS, featuring cold cases highlighted by the invaluable Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons website.

Among the tragedies we spotlighted was the murder of Carolyn Jansen, who died in 2003, around the time she was reported missing.

Now, fortunately, the Jansen story can officially be retired from this list.

A jury has found Jon David "JD" Harrington, Jansen's former roommate, guilty of killing her and then stuffing her body in a Rubbermaid container, where it remained for two years. And the combination of DNA evidence and an investigation by a TV true-crime show may have helped bring him to justice.

In that 2012 item, we published the following photo of Jansen....

...along with this text from the FHVMP site:
Carolyn Colleen Jansen was born May 21st, 1958. She was an only child. Her parents divorced early in her life. She worked as a waitress and at many truck stops. She also sold Avon for years. She loved sandcastles, the color purple, the outdoors and and spending time with her children and grandchildren whom she loved very much. Carolyn Baker gave birth to four girls and two boys. An infant, David Yount, died soon after birth. Carolyn Baker's decomposed body was found in a Rubbemaid container in June, 2005, two years after she was last seen. The container had been left behind in an Aurora home by a man now serving time for theft and forgery. The Arapahoe County Coroner determined Carolyn Jansen was murdered.

Not much had been happening with the Jansen investigation around the time our piece was published — but in early 2014, the inquiry revved up again.

That year, the TNT program Cold Justice, starring ex-Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler and veteran CSI investigator Yolanda McClary, took on the case for an episode eventually given the vivid title "Lady in the Box." The entire program is on view below, but here's the synopsis, which prominently mentions Harrington.
Carolyn Jansen, 43, was living in Aurora, Colo., trying to make a fresh start after spending years in an unhappy marriage. In 2001, she got a job working at a local diner while she built her direct-sale beauty products business. Then, in the early months of 2003, Carolyn suddenly went missing. More than two years later, on June 28, 2005, in a suburban neighborhood outside Denver, Richard Johnson had been noticing a foul odor coming from the back of his house, which he assumed was caused by some neighborhood cats. He started to clean out his storage shed, and after moving a few boxes around, he came upon a plastic container that had a horrible smell. He opened the container, and inside was a quilt covered with insects, a skeletonized foot and long brown hair. The body inside was later identified as being that of Carolyn Jansen. The medical examiner found a fracture over Jansen's left eye, and her death was ruled a homicide by blunt impact to the head. Richard told the Aurora Police Department that the box belonged to his friend, Jon ''JD'' Harrington, who had asked him to store some of his things at his house. JD denied having anything to do with Carolyn's death and told the police while he Carolyn were roommates for a short time, he hadn't seen her in years.
The Cold Justice episode aired on March 14, 2014 — but four days earlier, Harrington was arrested on suspicion of killing Jansen.

There's no telling if the interest of the Cold Justice team reignited the investigation, or if new activity got the attention of the show's producers. But either way, the case was finally broken, more than a decade after Jansen's death.

The key piece of evidence leading to the bust: Harrington's DNA was located on the duct tape that sealed the Rubbermaid container.

The DNA and the other evidence prosecutors assembled against Harrington convinced a jury in Arapahoe County.

Yesterday, Harrington was convicted of second-degree murder in Jansen's death.

Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Carolyn Jansen.

Look below to see a larger version of Harrington's booking photo, followed by the Cold Justice episode.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts