Originally published on 5/17/2003
A year and two days after emergency room nurse Jan Scharf disappeared from her Cameron Park home, El Dorado County sheriff's detectives arrested her husband, Glyn Scharf, on suspicion of homicide Friday.
The arrest came after an all-day search of his Center Street home in the Amador County city of Jackson while he was out of town, said El Dorado County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Kevin House.
After returning home about 5:30 p.m. Scharf was arrested, House said in a telephone interview.
Detectives would not say if any property was seized, but did say the search lasted 24 hours.
The arrest followed a yearlong investigation that family members complained was not making any apparent progress.
"There were a lot of pieces to this puzzle," House said, "but the final straw was the lead detective being able to put all of those pieces together and present it to the district attorney - who determined that we had enough of a case to make arrest."
Although the UC Davis Medical Center nurse's body has not been found, the passage of a year - during which her cell phone and ATM card were not used - will help prosecutors convince jurors of her probable death, House said.
Glyn Scharf was being held without bail in the El Dorado County jail, where members of Jan Scharf's family gathered Friday night.
Aimee Bautista, Jan Scharf's daughter, said news of the arrest brought relief to the family.
"We're amazed and happy that this has come about," Bautista said, "but it's just the first step in the process."
Bautista, 24, had a close relationship with her mother. The two talked several times a day and had been planning Bautista's wedding, which has been postponed.
Bautista said she was not shocked by the arrest.
"I always hoped for this to happen, but didn't want to let myself expect that it would," Bautista said.
Her family was not alerted to the possibility of an arrest, she said, even in light of a vigil Wednesday marking the one-year anniversary of Scharf's disappearance.
"I wish we would have known that day," she said.
The vigil was sponsored in part by the Sheriff's Department in an effort to reawaken public awareness in the case.
Glyn Scharf was the last person to report seeing his estranged wife alive.
He said he last saw her about 8 p.m. on May 14, 2002, when he went to their Cameron Park home.
The Scharfs, who were married in 1988, legally separated on Sept. 21, 2001, and Jan Scharf sued for divorce on Dec. 5, citing irreconcilable differences.
Glyn Scharf told authorities that although legally separated, the two still stayed in the Cameron Park house to save money.
He said that awoke at 6:40 a.m. May 15, 2002, and her bedroom door was closed and her Ford Explorer was gone, officials said.
Five days later, the vehicle was found in Folsom outside a 24-Hour Fitness, where she was a member.
Deputies canvassed the Scharfs' neighborhood that weekend and were told by a neighbor that she had heard some commotion on the night of May 14.
"There was a female screaming in distress, and the next thing she (the neighbor) heard was a vehicle leaving at a high rate of speed," House said. "There may have been more than one vehicle."
Jan Scharf, 45, had telephoned the Sheriff's Department at least four times and filed two police reports before her disappearance.
In one call, she stated that a gun was missing from her home. Another time she told deputies she believed that someone was trying to poison her coffee.
When she filed that report, officials took a sample of her blood and sent it to the state Department of Justice crime lab for analysis.
After her disappearance the results came back positive for digoxin, a drug for controlling or slowing an irregular heartbeat, House said.
"There were traces of digoxin in her blood," House said. "It absolutely helped out the case, but it wasn't one of the overwhelming pieces of the puzzle."
Carl Asmus, a nurse at the UC Davis Medical Center and one of Jan Scharf's close friends, said in an interview two weeks ago that Glyn Scharf's job as a paramedic on a private ambulance allowed "easy access to all sorts of drugs."
"Whenever you have a medical emergency, the patient's medications are brought along in the ambulance to the hospital," Asmus said.
Glyn Scharf served two terms on the Cameron Park Community Services District board, resigning in August when he moved to Amador County.
Family members said the arrest has helped them gain a sense of closure, however small.
"We still need to find her, but this definitely helps," Bautista said.