Today Is The Anniversary Of Cheyenne’s Most Infamous Murder
The most notorious crime in Cheyenne history happened 36 years ago today. November 16, 1982, 16-year-old Richard Jahnke Jr. and his sister Deborah killed their abusive father at their home on Cowpoke Road.
The controversial trial made national news and inspired the made-for-television movie "Right To Kill?". Both children were convicted of voluntary manslaughter. Deborah was sentenced to prison for 3-to-8 years. Her brother received a 5-to-15 year sentence. The case ignited a firestorm of criticism for the prosecutor and judge, who were accused of suppressing evidence detailing the father's physical and sexual abuse.
Following the public outcry, Wyoming Governor Ed Herschler commuted their sentences. Deborah was released from custody and served another year of probation. Richard was remanded to the Wyoming Boys School in Worland and was paroled in 1985 at the age of 19.
Just days after Richard's release, his mother Maria Jahke remarried Cheyenne businessman John Druce. She is now 75 and still lives in the same house where her abusive ex-husband was killed. Deborah and Richard eventually changed their names, moved out of state, and raised families of their own.