Murder of Leesa Jo Shaner, daughter of an FBI agent remained unsolved for 35 years until William Zamastil is convicted: Paula Zahn is on the case

Leesa Jo Shaner on her wedding day
Leesa Jo Shaner went to collect her husband from Tucson airport and was never seen alive again. Pic credit; Family Photo/On The Case With Paula Zahn

In May 1973, Leesa Jo Shaner went to give her husband, Gary, a lift home from Tucson airport. Gary was returning from a military trip to Japan, and a homecoming celebration was planned back at the house with all the family. Unfortunately, all celebrations ceased when Leesa was abducted from the airport parking lot.

When Leesa failed to meet Gary at the airport arrivals, he searched the parking lot for her car. When he found the vehicle, it was unlocked, and Leesa’s purse was still inside.

Leesa’s father was FBI agent James Miller, and law enforcement departments quickly mobilized to conduct a thorough search for the daughter of one of their own.

However, Leesa’s naked body was found four months later by two soldiers at Fort Huachaca; she had been buried in a shallow grave in the desert. Agent Miller made finding his daughter’s killer his life’s work. Unfortunately, he died in 2007 with the murder still unsolved.

The case remained open all that time, and investigators finally had a breakthrough a year after Miller’s death when thanks to some DNA evidence they began to focus on William Floyd Zamastil as their primary suspect. Zamastil was already serving time for three counts of first-degree murder. He had been in custody since 1978 when he was convicted of the abduction, rape, and murder of a 24-year-old woman in Madison, Wisconsin.

While in prison, Zamastil also confessed to a fellow prisoner to kidnapping and murdering a brother and sister, 17 and  18 years old, respectively, in California, also in 1978.

Already serving life imprisonment for the above crimes, Zamastil was convicted in 2011 for the first-degree murder of Leesa Shaner and given another life sentence. It took nearly 40 years, but Shaner’s family now feels they have had some justice.

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Catch the details at On the Case with Paula Zahn at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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