Shocked friend of Knob Noster murder suspect says ‘something must have gone wrong’

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KNOB NOSTER, Mo. -- Neighbors say they're surprised. Friends say they're shocked. Investigators say it's murder.

Jema Donahue, 31, is accused of killing her husband, Javon, also 31. Johnson County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Jema around 1 am Saturday. Twelve hours later, she was charged with second degree murder.

Jema Donahue

For most of Saturday, investigators congregated around Jema Donahue's parents' house, near the Johnson and Pettis county line. Neighbors told FOX 4's Rebecca Gannon, Jema recently moved back from Pennsylvania, and in with her parents. Sunday afternoon, the red jeep neighbors say belongs to Jema was still parked in the driveway.

Neighbors say they saw Jema and her to school-aged children around the house and in the neighborhood; occasionally they saw Javon, her husband.

The Johnson County, Mo. Sheriff says Jema killed Javon, and buried him in a shallow grave on a farm in Johnson County. Reached by phone Sunday afternoon, a friend of Jema's from Pennsylvania said she "just can't believe" Jema, who stood less than 5' 7" and 130 lbs., could do something like this.

The friend told FOX 4, "Jema's not an animal", and "something must have gone wrong. I just can't believe this could happen." The friend, who is unmarried and disabled, says Jema often helped her around the house and cared for her, almost as a daughter would help an aging mother.

Residents say the neighborhood where Jema lived with her parents is usually very quiet. Flags decorate the area, as many people who live here retired from Whiteman Air Force base. One neighbor said he'd seen sheriff's officers out a couple of times since Jema moved home.

Prosecutors say a tip led them to Javon Donahue's body, but would not provide any other details over the weekend. They also say the investigation is ongoing.

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