Murrieta mother killed at home

Murrieta man charged with murder in wife's death

At 1030 hours this morning, detectives from the Murrieta Police Department arrested
Kelle Lee Jarka, 39 yrs. old, for the murder of his wife, Isabelle Jarka.  The arrest occurred after Kelle Jarka made an appearance in Southwest Justice Center in Family Court where he was attempting to regain custody of his two children.  The children have been staying with relatives of Isabelle Jarka since her murder on 4/28/2008. 

On 4/28/2008 at 0845 hours the Murrieta Police Department responded to the Jarka home in the 39600 block of Tamarisk St.  Kelle Jarka called 9-1-1 to report his home had been burglarized while he left the residence to run errands which included shopping for more baby formula, despite the fact there was plenty of baby formula in the home. 

Over the past month, Murrieta detectives and forensic investigators from the California Department of Justice have been diligently and painstakingly analyzing evidence collected from the family home, Kelle Jarka’s vehicles and his personal belongings.  On the morning of April 28th, Kelle Jarka’s initial call to 9-1-1 was to report the burglary and he did not immediately reveal to police dispatchers that his wife may have been murdered until 26 seconds into the call. 

Detectives have been able to determine several of Kelle Jarka’s initial and subsequent statements were inconsistent with the substantial amount of the evidence collected at the crime scene as well as additional evidence discovered over the course of the investigation. 

Detectives believe the forensic evidence demonstrates Kelle Jarka intentionally staged the crime scene to make his home appear to have been burglarized by an intruder.  Detectives believe Kelle Jarka intentionally destroyed some of the physical evidence before he called police.   Additionally, Kelle Jarka purchased several life insurance policies in his wife’s name within weeks of her murder and totaled over $1,000,000 in value.   

The murder of Isabelle Jarka appears to be a case of domestic violence.  Since 2003, six of the last eight homicides in Murrieta have been domestic violence related, where the victim was murdered either by an estranged or current boyfriend or husband.  One additional homicide during this period involved the murder of an infant by the mother’s boyfriend. 
Adult Arrests
First    Middle    Last            Gender    Age      City                
Kelle       Lee        Jarka            M           39         Murrieta             

Charges:  Murder; with a special circumstances allegation that the murder was committed for
financial gain
Murrieta Police Department Press Release

Murrieta man charged with murder in wife's death

07:50 AM PDT on Friday, May 23, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

Weeks after a 40-year-old Murrieta mother was found beaten to death inside her home, authorities Thursday charged her husband with murder for financial gain.

Kelle Jarka, 39, was deep in debt, and in the weeks before Isabelle Jarka's killing took out life insurance policies in her name valued at more than $1 million, Murrieta police Sgt. Jim Ganley said.

Prosecutor John Davis said his office charged Jarka with first-degree murder and the special circumstance of murder for financial gain. The charges make Jarka eligible for the death penalty or life in prison.

Police arrested Jarka at the Southwest Justice Center's family law court Thursday morning as he attended a hearing to regain custody of his two children, who have been staying with their maternal grandparents, Ganley said.

On April 28, Jarka called police about 8:45 a.m. reporting that his home had been burglarized. He didn't mention anything about his wife's death for the first 26 seconds of the call, a police news release said.

Jarka told investigators he went out to buy coffee and baby formula. When he returned he found a door forced open, the house ransacked and his wife bloody and unconscious on the master bedroom floor.

One of the Jarkas' children, a 12-year-old girl, had spent the night with her grandparents, who live across the street. But it appears the couple's 6-month-old boy was in the master bedroom at the time his mother was killed, Ganley said.

An autopsy revealed that Isabelle Jarka suffered at least 11 blows to her head, but the murder weapon has not been found, Ganley said.

Detectives concluded that Jarka staged the crime scene to make it appear his home was burglarized and destroyed some physical evidence before calling police.

Jarka's statements to police and his actions were valuable to authorities, Davis said.

"The significant evidence in this case is the inconsistent stories about what happened," Davis said.

The inconsistencies pertained to where Jarka was before his wife's death, what he did in the days after and how he handled himself, Davis said.

At the Tamarisk Street home of Isabelle Jarka's parents Thursday, her brother-in-law, Paul McGraw, said they were aware Isabelle and Kelle Jarka were having marital trouble, but had no inkling of their money problems. The couple appeared to be doing well financially -- they had two Lexus vehicles and an expensive powerboat, he said.

McGraw said the family doubts that Isabelle knew the extent of her husband's financial problems either. Family members described Isabelle as unfailingly kind and generous, but also naïve.

"She was easily taken in by people," her sister, Laura McGraw, said. "She was very trusting."

Jarka was "very controlling" and secretive about his personal affairs, Paul McGraw said. Outwardly, he seemed to be a nice person and a great son-in-law, often going out of his way to help his in-laws, McGraw said, but he had a "darker side."

The family confronted Jarka after Isabelle's death but he denied having anything to do with it, McGraw said. Since then, McGraw said, the family has avoided speaking with him. They don't even know if Isabelle's remains have been released to Jarka, McGraw said.

Family members said they were convinced from the start that Jarka was responsible for Isabelle's death. But weeks later, her sister Maritza Trelata said, they still cannot fathom his motives.

"We'll have to live with that forever -- why."

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Booking Card - Kelle Jarka
Kelle Jarka
Husband pleads not guilty
On Wednesday at the Southwest Justice Center, Murrieta resident Kelle Jarka, 39,
pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder with a special circumstances allegation
of his wife Isabelle, 40.

Isabelle Jarka’s mother Tina Canchola, front, and sister Laura McGraw leave the
Southwest Justice Center Wednesday, June 4, 2008 after Kelle Jarka was arraigned
for his wife’s murder.

Violent end to a life spent making others smile
10:17 AM PDT on Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

Hiding behind corners to surprise unsuspecting loved ones as they walked by -- memories of
such antics are all that Isabelle Alexandra Jarka's family has left.

The 40-year-old mother of two was found dead April 28 inside her Murrieta home, and much of the information about her slaying remains solely within the purview of investigators and

Isabelle's husband, Kelle Lee Jarka, has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges that
make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. His attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

Jarka, 39, waits in a Riverside County jail cell until his trial. Today would have marked the couple's 19th wedding anniversary. Isabelle Jarka had spent nearly half of her life married to Kelle when Murrieta police found her on the floor of her home. A pool of blood was near her head. Her skull had been hit more than 10 times with a blunt object, according to police and court records.

It was a violent, ugly end to a life spent making others smile.

Her sister, Maritza Trelak, recalls that Jarka occasionally would amuse herself by poking a
finger into the middle of the newspaper, scaring the reader.

Her penchant for silly antics did not perish with her. The Jarkas' 12-year-old daughter is
following in her mother's footsteps, said Trelak, who spoke on her family's behalf.

Jarka also enjoyed entertaining people at her home, and relatives raved about her cooking,
especially Italian cuisine. She was a gourmet chef who listened to tenor Andrea Bocelli and poured her creative talents into interior decorating and sewing.

"She loved providing the best for her family," Trelak said.

Inside the Jarkas' spacious Murrieta home, which was opened to the public for an estate
sale, were several bookcases filled with magazines and books devoted to cooking,
dieting, fitness, home decorating and ways to improve one's appearance.

The youngest of three sisters, Jarka grew up in La Mirada, a suburb of Los Angeles County, in a home where her mother, Tina Canchola, cooked breakfast, packed their lunches and had dinner ready when their father, Elias, came home from work, said Trelak.

Jarka grew into a warm, compassionate woman, Trelak said.

The family moved to Missouri in the late 1980s because of their father's job. Jarka, a Jehovah's Witness, was living there when she met Illinois resident Kelle.

Kelle Jarka's uncle introduced them during a religious event, said Trelak.

They married July 7, 1989, and honeymooned in Cancun, Mexico, where Isabelle Jarka developed a stomach ailment from the local cuisine, causing the couple to return home earlier than planned, Trelak said.

For their second wedding anniversary, Kelle Jarka gave his wife a diamond tennis bracelet.

She was excited about the gift and had trouble unwrapping the jewelry box, a videotape of the anniversary party shows.

When she saw the bracelet, her face lit up with a big smile. She kissed her husband, a brief peck on the lips, then displayed the bracelet for all to see.

Isabelle wore the bracelet often and planned to pass it on to her daughter, Trelak said.

Kelle Jarka listed the bracelet among the items he reported missing from their home after his
wife's death, according to Murrieta police Sgt. Jim Ganley.

In 2007, Jarka learned she was pregnant with the couple's second child.

It was a happy accident, a pregnancy that was not planned but absolutely welcomed, Trelak

"And once she found out it was a boy, well that was a source of pure joy to her. It just made her family feel 'complete,'" Trelak said.

Six months later, the Jarkas' infant son was in his parents' master bedroom, police said, not far from his mother when she was beaten to death.

Reach Tammy J. McCoy at 951-375-3729 or

Death of Isabelle Jarka

Death of Isabelle Jarka

Death penalty not sought in Murrieta slaying

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco decided against seeking the death penalty in the case of a Murrieta man charged with murder for financial gain in connection with his wife's April slaying, officials announced Thursday.

Kelle Lee Jarka , 40, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder for monetary benefit after the bludgeoning death of his wife, Isabelle, in their Murrieta home.

On April 28, with their infant son nearby, Isabelle Jarka was repeatedly beaten on the head with a blunt object in the couple's bedroom, according to police and court records. Kelle Jarka had taken out $1 million in life insurance on his 40-year-old wife weeks before her death and the family home was in foreclosure, authorities and public records state.

All of the facts of the Jarka case were taken into consideration before a decision was reached, said Michael Jeandron, a spokesman for the district attorney's office. Pacheco was not available for comment.

Since Pacheco's term began in 2007, the office has pursued the death penalty in 10 of 11 cases where a decision was announced, according to a search of published reports and the district attorney's web site.

Jeandron said the figures are not accurate, adding that not every decision is made public.

"We have many cases where we have chosen life without the possibility of parole," he said.

He could not provide specific information. Reactions to the decision varied in Isabelle Jarka's family, with her parents favoring the death penalty.

"If you take a human life not for reasons of self-defense, yours should be taken," her parents Elias and Tina Canchola said in an e-mailed statement. "No words can possibly describe the pain, suffering and heartache experienced at the loss of your child."

Isabelle's sister, Laura McGraw, was satisfied with Pacheco's decision.

"I feel that life in prison without possibility of parole is duly deserved," McGraw said in an e-mailed statement.

Kelle Jarka's defense lawyers did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Jarka convicted of murdering wife to collect insurance
Special to the Valley News
Monday, September 14th, 2009.

MURRIETA - A 41-year-old Murrieta man was convicted today of murdering his wife to collect on the three life insurance policies he had taken out not long before her death.

The six-man, six-woman jury, which deliberated about 3 1/2 hours over two days, also found true a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain against Kelle Lee Jarka.

He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced

Nov. 6 for the bludgeoning murder of his 40-year-old wife Isabelle, with whom he had two children.

As the verdict was read before a courtroom packed with family members of the defendant and victim, Jarka showed no outward response.

The victim's brother-in-law spoke on behalf of her family and said they were glad the trial was over so they could move on.

Paul McGraw said he and his wife, Laura, are adopting the Jarkas' 14-year-old daughter and 22-month-old son.

The La Verne resident said the family had a good relationship with the defendant while he was married to Isabelle, and no one had any idea the couple was having financial troubles.

He characterized Kelle Jarka as a regular guy who got along fine with his wife's family. Isabelle, he said, was ``like my little sister.''

After her death, McGraw said he wasn't initially persuaded Kelle Jarka was the killer. But over time, ``nothing fit,'' he said, and his brother-in-law didn't seem that emotional or upset over his wife's slaying.

``I would have been in pieces. I would have been a wreck. He was not a wreck,'' McGraw said.

Jurors declined to talk to reporters after the verdict.

According to the prosecution, Jarka bludgeoned his wife because she was thinking of leaving him and the two were in deep financial trouble. An autopsy showed the victim was struck on the head 11 times.

The murder weapon, believed to have been a blunt object, was never found.

Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky said Jarka took out three life insurance policies on his wife -- altogether valued at $1.3 million

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The Press-Enterprise Death of Isabelle JarkaRead This Story to me!

MURRIETA - A 40-year-old mother of two was killed in her Murrieta home Monday morning, authorities said.

Coroner's officials identified the woman as Isabelle Jarka.

Her 39-year-old husband called 911 about 8:45 a.m. Monday to say he stepped out to run errands and returned to find his Tamarisk Street home ransacked and his wife unconscious in their bedroom, said Murrieta police Lt. Dennis Vrooman.
Isabelle Jarka
When police arrived, Jarka's mother, who lives across the street, was already there, Vrooman said.

An officer and paramedics tried to revive Jarka, but she was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 9 a.m., Vrooman said.

Sgt. Jim Ganley said that as of late Monday afternoon investigators were still interviewing the husband and that they had no suspect information to release.

The husband told police he had gone out for less than an hour to pick up coffee and baby formula. When he returned, the husband said, he found that a side door to the garage had been forced open.

Jarka had suffered head injuries, including cuts on her forehead, but it was not immediately clear how the injuries were inflicted, Ganley said.

The couple's 12-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son were at their grandparents' house across the street, where they had spent the night, Ganley said.

At the crime scene Monday, a quiet street with newer two-story homes with two-car garages, neighbors gathered in their driveways trading information about the killing and the family of the woman who died.

"They're Jehovah's Witnesses," said Kristine Scott, who lives down the street, "so they kind of keep to themselves. They're kind of introverted."

Scott said she had been up since 4 a.m., but did not hear any unusual noises. She did not even realize anything had happened until she looked outside to find the neighborhood lined with police tape.

Another neighbor, Sharon Hicks, said the oldest homes in the neighborhood were built about seven years ago and the family of the woman who died had lived there since then.

Hicks and other neighbors said groups of Jehovah's Witnesses sometimes would park at Jarka's parents' home and proselytize around the neighborhood.

Neighbor Kim Papazoglou said Jarka's husband worked in construction and was always cordial when she met him picking up the mail. She said Jarka home-schooled their child.

"This is a quiet little neighborhood," Papazoglou said. "We never see anything like this."

Staff writer Tammy J. McCoy contributed to this report.

Autopsy reveals Murrieta woman killed by blows to head

08:16 AM PDT on Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By Sarah Burge
The Press-Enterprise

An autopsy showed the 40-year-old woman killed Monday in her Murrieta home died of blunt-force trauma strikes to the head, authorities said.

Sgt. Jim Ganley said the autopsy was performed Tuesday on Isabelle Jarka, whose husband reported finding her unconscious in their bedroom Monday morning. The autopsy also showed signs of defensive wounds to her hands and arms, Ganley said.

The husband told investigators he went out to run errands and when he returned less than an hour later, it appeared someone had broken into and ransacked their Tamarisk Street house, a police news release said. The couple’s two children, a 12-year-old and a 6-month-old, were not home at the time. They had spent the night at their grandparents’ house across the street, Ganley said.

Investigators have not released any suspect information about any suspect.

See Court Records
Updated Sept 2, 2009