Friend of Knob Noster murder victim says he spent final days fearing for his life

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. -- A Missouri woman is charged with killing her husband, and now prosecutors have also charged her mom and another man in connection with the crime.

Ricky Wayne Armstrong

Ricky Armstrong faces a charge of tampering with evidence in regard to the death of Javon Donahue.

Margaret Heffernan faces the same charge, and another charge of abandonment of a corpse, in the death of her son-in-law.

While investigators have not released a motive for the murder, friends of Jema have told FOX 4 that they suspect she was physically and mentally abused by her husband Javon, and that he was the jealous type.

Today, a long time friend of Javon has come forward to defend him.

"'Cause he is a good man. From the day I met him, he has been a good man, good friend. He would not do no wrong to anybody."

Javon Donahue

Amanda Dillard said she collapsed to the floor when she heard that her long time friend Javon Donahue was found dead, especially because in the days before his disappearance, Dillard said Javon was in fear for his life.

"He told me. He called me and he told me that he did not feel safe down there anymore and that he needed to get away," Dillard recalled. "And that Jema was too far gone on drugs and he couldn't help her no more."

Javon spent most of his married life trying to help his wife Jema, Dillard said of the couple who met in drug rehab. Both seemed to be on the right path for a while.

"I just remember when they first met they were so happy, and then she started struggling again and he moved her," Dillard said.

That was about 5 years ago, according to Dillard. The Donahues moved to Pennsylvania to start fresh and get away from, as Dillard called it, the bad influences that plagued Jema.

"And they were doing great out there. She was clean and she missed her family and so he came back home with her and three months later he is dead," Dillard explained.

Jema Donahue

Jema Donahue told police that she shot and killed her husband in a bedroom at the Knob Noster home where the couple lived. Then, with help from her mother, 60-year-old Peggy Heffernan, and friend, 50-year-old Ricky Armstrong, they buried Javon's body in a shallow grave on a Johnson County farm.

"Violence is not the answer. Killing people is not okay. I am glad that she got caught," Dillard said. "They had to drive miles with him in the car from the house to the burial site. That is disturbing."

Kansas City attorney John Picerno has been hired to represent Jema. He met with her Tuesday evening in the Johnson County, Mo. jail.

Jema Donahue is in jail being held on a $250,000 cash bond. Heffernan and Armstrong are also in custody, held on $75,000 cash bonds each. They are expected to make their first court appearance Wednesday or Thursday.