Dateline   |  June 21, 2013

Secrets in the Suburbs, Part 1

Jane Bashara, wife and mother of two from upscale Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, is found murdered  in her Mercedes SUV that’s been left  in a seedy Detroit alley.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: most american cities have a neighborhood where the houses are bigger, the money a little older. in detroit it's grosse pointe .

>> it's the place where everybody wants to live. the homes are beautiful. the lawns are manicured. everybody appears to live this perfect life .

>> reporter: in this tasteful enclave of good schools, good churches, good families going back generations, jane and bob bashara made their home and loved their two children.

>> i love this place. how could you not?

>> reporter: big bob as he's known with the vanity plates to prove it was active in rotary, a past president and hands on for almost any community fundraiser you could name. jane was equally busy in volunteer organizations, particularly in the high school mothers group. they had been a couple nearly 30 years.

>> we clicked pretty much right away. within two years i asked her to marry me. she said yes.

>> reporter: bob said he loved that jane didn't hold anything back.

>> she was outgoing, a go-getter, yet was loving and kind. i was attracted to her right from the beginning because she had a good heart.

>> reporter: the children came along. first robert, then jessica.

>> this is where the kids grew up.

>> reporter: if you look in the front room of their gracious home on middlesex road in grosse pointe park you will see two evergreens.

>> when my son was one we brought in a live christmas tree , brought it in, decorated it then took it outside and did the same for my daughter two and a half, three years later. so we have brother and sister growing next to each other oh. now they are about 30 feet. they're wonderful.

>> reporter: bob bashara, the son of a judge is a real estate guy. he bews and sells commercial and residential properties around detroit and takes in cash flow as a landlord. he bought his first property as a teenager.

>> when you play monopoly, the person with the most property wins.

>> reporter: jane was a six-figure marketing executive who retired several years ago but went back to work when the recession took a toll on her husband's property business. to all appearances the lives lived in nice house with the grown christmas trees out front weren't all that much different from what was happening in homes up and down the streets of grosse pointe park . then came january 24 , 2012 . it was 5:30 in the evening. jane was driving her black mercedes suv home from her job in detroit . bob said they spoke on their cells.

>> she sounded perfectly fine. she said, i'm coming home , i'll be home in 20 minutes .

>> reporter: as jane drove from downtown bob said he was tending to outside cleanup chores at one of his properties. when he got home -- he thinks about 8:00 -- there was no jane anywhere in sight. did you see jane 's car here?

>> i didn't.

>> reporter: anything this disarray?

>> i just assumed she ran an errand. as 8:30, 9:00 came i started calling her. no answer.

>> reporter: bob was getting anxious.

>> i called the police and alerted them that my wife once answering the phone. i said, i'm concerned. she's not here.

>> reporter: the next morning, a wednesday, tow truck operators in the east end of detroit were making their early rounds.

>> before their shift they will drive the streets and look for stolen cars, abandoned cars to make a few extra dollars.

>> reporter: marc santia at the time was a top investigative reporter for nbc's detroit affiliate wdiv-tv.

>> a tow truck driver spots a beautiful mercedes suv .

>> reporter: a shiny vehicle that wouldn't turn a head in grosse pointe was a flashing sign saying something is wrong in detroit 's gritty east end . just abandoned in a grungy alley, no sounds from within.

>> he calls detroit police . sources tell me they walked up on the car. once they poked their head in they saw a woman's body and everything changed. this went from an abandoned vehicle to a homicide scene real quick.

>> the 56-year-old mother found dead inside her suv on detroit 's east side .

>> reporter: when do you get the call?

>> the police knocked on the door at 9:30 the next morning. i think i fell to my knees. it was absolutely the worst news i could have gotten. at that point i was grieving. i had to make phone calls . dreaded phone calls to my children. to tell them about their mother.

>> reporter: jane bashara, a wife, a mother, a daughter was suddenly violently dead at the age of 56. she had been strangled and severely beaten.

>> we are told it was made to look like it was a robbery scene. her e purse was dumped out. it looked like she was placed in her own suv and the suv was dumped in an alley on the east side of detroit .

>> reporter: grosse pointe park police took jurisdiction over the police because their working theory was jane wasn't murdered in detroit , the city that suffered 340 homicides in 2011 , but in a place just seven miles away that hadn't had a single murder since 1992 .

>> so right away sources were saying they believed she was killed in grosse pointe park .

>> reporter: grosse pointe park where residents like to think their grass is greener and murders simply don't happen down the block.