John Harrison West, Innocent; Held a Month on Murder Charges as a Result of Tom Dillard Withholding Exculpatory Evidence
By Steven Barket,
Las Vegas, Nevada
Exculpatory Evidence Withheld, Leading to Charges
John Harrison West was an unassuming Las Vegas pharmacist. He lived a good, decent life until he was sent into a tailspin with the accusation and charges that he beat to death with a framing hammer Airman Beth Lynn Jardine on June 3, 1985. Jardine was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, just northeast of Las Vegas.
The murder was a horrific one. West was accused of picking up Jardine in the at the Whiskey Creek Bar on Charleston Boulevard near Nellis Boulevard and taking her back to her apartment, where she was beaten multiple times with a hammer and sodomized her after she was dead. Her nude body with blood and other body tissue splattered all over the apartment was found by maintenance workers. Ripped pants and panties were found at the scene, as well as a bloody claw hammer – the murder weapon — along with large patches of bloodstained carpet and a bloody trail that investigators say showed that Jardine was dragged through the apartment and into a bedroom.
People said that Jardine was “very outgoing, sweet and friendly, and that she often drank alcohol in excess. Jardine’s neighbor, Dennis Lyon, testified that he heard Jardine come home and then heard banging on the night of the murder. Banging, according to him, like cupboard doors being slammed shut.
Crime scene photos showed blood spatters on the apartment’s floor, walls and ceiling. Jardine had been smashed with the hammer more than 20 times in the head, according to testimony from a Clark County medical examiner.
No one heard Jardine cry out or yell for help. She was 23 at the time of her murder.
The chief investigating officer responsible for digging out the facts of what happened and putting a case together to find a suspect and get a conviction was Las Vegas Metro Police Department Detective Tom Dillard.