Overview of Janet Lay
Janet Lynn Lay was a beloved 45-year-old woman who was living in Southport, FL at the time of her death.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much publicly-available information about who Janet was as a person prior to her death. Janet worked as a retail clerk in the area and was a member of the Lynn Haven United Methodist Church. Janet is remembered as being fun-filled and full of life.
Betty, Janet’s mother, acted as her strongest advocate until her death in 2014. Betty strongly believed, and preached, that the worst thing that could happen is for Janet to be forgotten.
“I know I’ll never forget her, but I just want everybody who knew her to take time out to remember her” - Betty Mount, Janet’s mother.
Janet’s trailer bursts into flames.
On the morning of April 9, 1999, Janet’s home burst into flames for seemingly no reason. Authorities would later determine that there were no signs of accelerant being used to start the fire, and conclude that the fire was likely started by a fire on the kitchen stove, or a lit cigarette.
Janet’s body is found.
Once the fire department extinguished the fire, investigators were able to enter the rubble, where they found Janet’s body underneath the rubble, sitting on a recliner in what would have been the living room of the home. Authorities quickly determined that Janet had actually been killed before the home caught on fire, and that her death was caused by two stab wounds.
Within days of Janet’s death, an arrest is made.
Two days after Janet’s death, police arrest Robert Gene Marjenhoff. Marjenhoff and Janet reportedly knew each other, though they did not have a close relationship. The primary piece of evidence linking Marjenhoff to Janet’s murder is a confession he had made prior to his arrest, when he claimed that he had been in an altercation with Janet on the day of her death.
Several things stood in the way of a prosecution in Janet’s case. For starters, Marjenhoff’s IQ was significantly lower than average. After multiple evaluations, it is determined that he would likely be unable to stand at trial. More importantly, Marjenhoff came forward with an alibi for the time that Janet was likely killed. With these in mind, all charges against Marjenhoff were eventually dropped.
“I miss her. Especially when I come home and I look at the answering machine. There used to be one or two or three messages a day from her” - Betty Mount, Janet’s mother.
Where the case stands today.
Today, authorities are still looking for the person who killed Janet. Marjenhoff remained out of prison for the remainder of his life, until his death in 2006. So, who killed Janet and why? If you have any information, please contact Panhandle Crime Stoppers at (850) 785-TIPS (8477).