High on the mountains of Southern California, an overgrown driveway leads to the burned-out piece of ground that once supported Jack Irwin’s Mt. Baldy cabin. Life has moved on, as it always does, and the forest has grown over much of this site where a horrific murder took place.
Back in 1999, Jack Irwin sold his cabin for $48,000 to two women—Marcia Johnson and Judy Gellert. He gave them very generous terms, holding the mortgage in exchange for monthly payments of $582 for ten years. He also threw in some appliances.
But by summer, Judy and Marcia moved in with Jack in his four-bedroom house down the mountain. They explained to others in town that they decided to move in to help him keep house, cook his meals, and make sure he ate well and took his medicine.
When Marcia Johnson reported Jack Irwin missing a few months later, she said that she had dropped him off at the train station so he could take a trip to Seattle to see the space needle. Marcia had only known Jack for 7 months, but she claimed that she was like a daughter to him.
When Marcia and Judy told neighbors that Jack had taken a trip, many were suspicious. Jack wasn’t a complete recluse, but he was definitely a homebody. He had never mentioned taking a trip to anyone else. Then, suddenly, the women were driving new cars and spending a lot of money. Further investigation would reveal that the women had drained Jack’s bank account.
In the summer of 2000, the cabin was robbed, then burned to the ground. Judy and Marcia collected large sums of money from State Farm Insurance. Then they left town. Jack Irwin’s missing person’s case became a murder investigation.
The murder of Jack Irwin, often referred to as A Beheading at Mt. Baldy, is our quiet end discussion today. Because Jack was a veteran and a kind-hearted man with a disability, this is one of the most heinous cases of elder abuse on record in California. The lack of remorse demonstrated by his admitted killer, along with the fact that her accomplice has gone essentially unpunished adds to the outrageous nature of the case.