Author chronicles Bashara case in true crime book

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By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News
 
Steve Miller wasn’t planning to write “Murder in Grosse Pointe Park: Privilege, Adultery, and the Killing of Jane Bashara” — his fourth true crime book. 

“I was doing interviews for Detroit Rock City when this was happening (in 2012),” he said. “When I’d be talking to somebody and they’d be like, ‘What about that Bashara case?’ And I said, ‘What about that? That’s really something.’”

The more Miller thought about it, the more he thought that it might make an interesting book.

“I wasn’t looking to do another true crime book, to be honest, but it worked out that way,” said Miller, 58, a freelance journalist and author who lives outside Lansing. “I said to my publisher,
‘Let me write a quick proposal for it.’ It made perfect sense to do one. As it happened, it did turn out to be a good book.”

“Murder in Grosse Pointe Park” (Berkley MM $9.99) chronicles the murder of Grosse Pointe Park marketing executive Jane Bashara and the trial of her husband Bob Bashara, alias “Master Bob.”  

Due to the numerous twists and turns of this case — including Bob Bashara’s BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) proclivities and extramarital affairs — it became sensationalized and received plenty of media attention, locally and nationally. 

It was even covered by “Dateline NBC.”

Jane Bashara was strangled to death in her own garage by mentally impaired handyman Joe Gentz on Jan. 24, 2012. 

The next day, her body was discovered in the backseat of her luxury Mercedes SUV in an alley on Detroit’s east side. 

Gentz was hired by Bashara to kill her for $2,000 and a used Cadillac. 

Bob Bashara was named a person of interest in the investigation three days later. 

On Jan, 31, Gentz confessed to the Grosse Pointe Police Department that he murdered Jane Bashara and helped dispose of her body. However, authorities dismissed Gentz’s confession because it was on record that he had an IQ of 67. 

Gentz was released on Feb. 2012 without being charged.

Later that month, Bashara’s secret BDSM lifestyle was publicly revealed. 

It was reported that he had a “sex dungeon” — complete with hooks and whips — in the basement of the Hard Luck Lounge, a bar he owned in Grosse Pointe Park. 

Bashara had cheated on his wife. His mistress Rachel Gillett, who was also into BDSM, was unaware he was married; in fact, he reportedly lied to Gillett, saying he wasn’t.

“There was the BDSM angle, which the prosecution used as a motive,” said Miller. “He was involved in the lifestyle, which on its own is nothing nefarious, of course, but people look askance at it. I thought it was interesting to explore that, explore their inclinations. I saw the online ad where Bob was looking for sexual partners — he was ‘Master Bob.’”

David Griem, Bashara’s former lawyer, stated that his ex-client’s double-life as a BDSM enthusiast and as a philanderer did not incriminate him in his wife’s murder. 

Miller met Griem while writing “A Slaying in the Suburbs: The Tara Grant Murder,” another high-profile Michigan-based slaying that occurred in 2007 when Stephen Grant murdered his wife, Tara. 

Griem stopped representing Grant that July for undisclosed reasons.

“David’s a well-rounded, entertaining guy,” Miller said. “I liked him out of the gate. I don’t come into the legal community with any judgment at all. I like these people for being characters, for being outspoken, for being knowledgeable... We talked several times for this book.

Gentz was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Experts stated that Gentz, despite being developmentally disabled, was competent enough to stand trial. 

Gentz accepted a plea deal and is currently serving 17-28 years in prison for second-degree murder.

As part of the deal, Gentz agreed to testify against Bob Bashara, but later refused, demanding leniency. 

When writing this book, Miller spoke to Gentz, as well as Gentz’s ex-wife, mother and brother. 

“Joe (Gentz) was an interesting character,” he said. “He acknowledged that he committed the crime, but he recanted that he actually killed Jane even though it’s a little late… But when it came time to testify against Bob, he wouldn’t do it. “

Miller said “some geniuses in the jailhouse told him it was a bad idea and he was getting a raw deal.”

“He wanted more of a promise, but he wasn’t gonna get it, of course — he was a guy who committed murder,” Miller said. “He confessed to it. When you do that, (the prosecution) isn’t gonna
cut you many deals.”

Bashara began to worry about Gentz, despite reiterating again and again that he had nothing to do with his wife’s murder. 

However, on June 27, 2012, Bob Bashara was arrested for solicitation of murder. 

He spoke several times to Steven Tibaudo, a Detroit appliance storeowner. 

Tibaudo would hire a hitman to kill Gentz , who was incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail, in order to silence him for $20,000. This contract included a down payment of $2,000. 

However, Tibaudo wore a wire and secretly recorded these conversations with Bob Bashara, which were later turned over to the authorities.

Miller reportedly spoke to Bashara around this time via letters, e-mails and phone calls, even visiting him once in jail. In fact, this book reprints Miller’s email correspondence with him.

“Any time I write a true crime book, one of my biggest goals is to be in touch with the accused,” Miller said. 

Bashara pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder on Oct. 11, 2012 and was sentenced to 6-20 years two months later.

“I know I absolutely did wrong, what I did was inexcusable and I have no one to blame but myself,” he tearfully read in a statement at his sentencing. “I absolutely stand before you and my family and the world to take responsibility for my actions.” 

On April 17, 2013, Bashara was charged in his wife’s murder. Six months later, he went on trial for first-degree murder and was convicted on Dec. 18, 2014. 

A month later, Bashara was sentenced to life in prison without parole and he’s currently incarcerated at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee.

Last year, Bashara filed a motion seeking a new trial on a variety of grounds, including ineffective counsel.

Miller made no attempt to speak to the Basharas’ two children when writing this book. Requests to speak with Bashara’s various attorneys were denied.

Miller tried to speak to Jane Bashara’s extended family through an intermediary but that request also was denied. 

“A lot of these books are doing what you need to do to make a fair portrayal and a full portrayal,” Miller said. “Access to things is important, of course, because you want all the players. You make a checklist of who you want to talk to — some you’ll get and some you won’t.”   
 

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