Kevin Jokumsen, a former Enumclaw local, will soon face a jury of his peers for the alleged killing of his wife, Donna Mae Jokumsen, in 1987.
Just over two years later, it appears the case is ready to go to trial, with the first day scheduled for Sept. 30.
Prosecutors may have a difficult time during the trial, as Donna Mae (maiden name Douglas) has never been found dead or alive. Although the case was re-opened in 2016 by detectives in Chandler, Arizona, it’s been reported little to no new evidence has been discovered since the original police investigation.
Here’s what we know, according to original 1987 testimonies and follow-up interviews in 1996 and 2016.
While living in Enumclaw, Jokumsen and Donna Mae dated in high school and married in 1985. It appears most members of their families thought the relationship was toxic — Jokumsen’s older sister described them being together like putting “gas on a fire” — but the families were split on who was more violent to the other. The Enumclaw Police Department responded to three incidents of domestic violence regarding Jokumsen in the summer of 1986, two in July and one in September.
The Enumclaw police were unable to provide further details to these events, but according to Chandler police interviews with Jokumsen, he said he was charged at least once (though it was later dropped) and arrested another time for violating a restraining order (but it was because Donna Mae took his car from where he was working).
Donna Mae started divorce proceedings in August 1986, but by October, the two were back together. Looking for a fresh start, they moved to Arizona in January 1987.
The arrangement didn’t last. According to multiple interviews with Donna Mae’s family and friends, she had decided to leave Jokumsen to come back to Washington with her two children less than a year later. Her father told police she called him on July 2 or 3 and said, “I’m leaving Kevin,” adding that she just couldn’t take it anymore.
Donna Mae disappeared July 5, 1987, and was never seen again.
The investigation began July 11, when Donna Mae’s mother called the Chandler police to say her daughter never arrived.
After being brought in for questioning, Jokumsen told Chandler police he and Donna Mae had a very strong relationship, and he denied having domestic problems or violence.
According to Jokumsen, he and Donna Mae had a good talk on July 3 about her and the kids going back to Washington for the summer because the weather in Arizona was too hot for her. He said Donna Mae was also homesick and discouraged at being unable to find a banking job, and was instead working at a cleaning service and the Humpty Dumpty Restaurant. Jokumsen also said he gave her a few hundred dollars to rent a U-Haul for the vacation.
After their talk, she left to spend the weekend with friends in Mesa, Arizona.
Donna Mae’s family and friends have a different recollection of events. Donna Mae was beaten and raped by Jokumsen on July 3 before spending the weekend with them in Mesa, according to Myra Sandoval, Jackie Oxford and Dawn Kirby. All three of them were also aware she was planning to take the kids and leave Jokumsen for good.
Donna Mae first showed up at the Humpty Dumpty Restaurant, where Sandoval was working, around midnight July 4 with a red face, split lip and marks on her neck, according to Sandoval’s 1987 statement. They left for a friend’s house in Mesa that morning.
On July 5, Donna Mae left her friends to go home, switch cars (the El Camino she was driving was having issues, so she picked up the Chevrolet Chevelle) and returned to Mesa, according to Sandoval. She then left again around 10 p.m. to pick up her kids and some belongings, promising to return later that evening.
That’s the last time anyone admitted to seeing her alive.
Officers eventually confronted Jokumsen with the evidence of his previous incidents of domestic issues and/or violence. He recanted his previous statement about having a good talk on July 3, and said they had a verbal argument — she was drunk and obnoxious, he told detectives — and he attempted to prevent Mae from leaving. Eventually, Donna Mae told him she wanted to talk to him on July 5 about something and then drove off to her friends’ place, according to Jokumsen’s statement.
Jokumsen went on to say his wife returned the early evening of July 5, where they talked briefly before switching cars from the El Camino to the Chevelle, and drove back to Mesa to say goodbye to her friends prior to leaving for Washington. This was confirmed by Sandoval, Oxford and Kirby; Kirby added that the two of them planned to have Kirby follow Donna Mae in the morning so Donna Mae could get the Chevelle tuned up before leaving.
Jokumsen said when he woke up early on July 6, the Chevelle was back at his house, but Donna Mae was nowhere to be found. He also told police the Chevelle was dirty when she left with it the previous night, but it was now clean, inside and out.
Shortly after Donna Mae’s disappearance, Oxford told police she talked with Jokumsen, who told her he was aware of Donna Mae’s plan to separate. Jokumsen, in a follow-up interview, denied knowledge of Donna Mae’s plans to leave him, and said he didn’t tell Oxford that he and Mae were splitting.
Eventually, Jokumsen told officers he was open to a polygraph test. The polygrapher reported “it was his opinion that Jokumsen was being untruthful when asked relevant questions about his wife’s disappearance,” read a letter from the Chandler Police Department to the Enumclaw Police Department.
Because no body was found, Donna Mae went into the system as a missing person, and no charges were filed, although detectives suspected foul play at the hands of Jokumsen.
Detectives re-opened the case again in 1996. Despite no sign of Donna Mae, detectives ended their investigation by continuing to treat her as missing.
The case was re-opened again in 2016. It appeared little, if any, additional evidence was discovered when the case was re-opened both times.
However, one key piece of evidence may be a tip the Chandler police received in 1993. According to the tip, Donna Mae was killed by Tyrone Reclosado and his girlfriend, Barbara Roman, who are unrelated to Jokumsen. The tip contained details about Donna Mae, such as her age, that she was from Washington, had two children, and even said where the body was buried.
According to court minutes, Roman is willing to testify that Reclosado was gone for lengthy periods of time during the July 4 weekend in 1987, and returned home with blood on his shirt; nothing in the 2017 Chandler police report indicated if detectives checked the site or if they found anything, and a department spokesman didn’t comment by deadline.
Additionally, detectives re-interviewed Oxford in 2016, and she said she recalled hosing off the Chevelle before Donna Mae left Mesa for the final time. However, her most recent testimony didn’t address why the inside of the car was clean.
It also appears that Sandoval’s testimony will be questioned by the defense, as she was under the influence of an un-reported substance that July 4 weekend in 1987, and has admitted her drug use has impacted her memory; the court has found this evidence to be admissible, as well as her two prior federal convictions for selling narcotics, which may impact her credibility.
Despite the apparent lack of new information, prosecutors brought the case to a grand jury, which indicted Jokumsen on Aug. 30, 2017.
A day later, an Auburn detective familiar with Jokumsen spotted him in an industrial area in Kent, the Courier-Herald reported in 2017. He was arrested and extradited to Arizona.
Jokumsen has pleaded not guilty and denies killing his wife. His lawyer, Casey Arellano, did not respond to a request for comment.