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Millions sought in death

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ANN MARIE AMES
December 17, 2008
— The family of an Edgerton woman killed by her husband in August wants $2.9 million from the city of Edgerton and Rock County.

Jenni Vordermann's family filed a notice of claim Tuesday that blames her death on the Edgerton Police Department and Rock County Crisis Intervention.


Police should have arrested Jenni's husband, Shaun, before he shot Jenni and then shot himself, according to the claim.


Crisis workers or police should have warned Jenni when Shaun was released from custody, according to the claim.


Madison attorney Brian Brophy filed the notice of claim on behalf of Jenni's family. He spoke to The Janesville Gazette before filing the claim.


"It looks like the officers were negligent," Brophy said. "They were negligent as a result of their lack of domestic violence training."


Jenni, 24, and, Shaun, 25, were found dead in their bedroom at 39 Mildred Ave., Edgerton, the morning of Aug. 18.


According to Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach, Shaun shot his wife and himself late the previous night or early that morning.


Shaun and Jenni had contact with Edgerton police and with crisis intervention in the weeks and days before their deaths, according to the claim.


Rock County Corporation Counsel Jeff Kuglitsch said this morning his office would recommend the county deny the claim. Because of the large dollar amount of the claim, the full county board will need to vote on his recommendation, Kuglitsch said.


Kuglitsch expects the staff committee and the county board to vote on the matter in January.


A notice of claim is not a lawsuit, Kuglitsch said. Wisconsin law requires people to file a notice of claim before filing suit, he said.


If the municipality denies the claim, as Kuglitsch expects Rock County to do, the claimant has 180 days to file a lawsuit.


Along with the city and county, the claim lists the following individuals:


-- Edgerton Police Department Chief Tom Klubertanz. The Gazette could not reach Klubertanz this morning for comment.


-- Edgerton police officer Doug Vierck. Vierck arrived at 39 Mildred Ave. on Aug. 13—five days before the bodies were found—after Tina Pond, Jenni's mother, called police. Pond was worried when she couldn't reach Jenni, even though it appeared Jenni was sending Pond text messages asking for help, according to the claim.


Vierck went to the house to check on Jenni but did not write a report, according to the claim.


Later, Jenni told her mother that Shaun was mad that Vierck had come to the house, had found Shaun's gun and had left instructions for Jenni to call Vierck, according to the claim.


-- Edgerton police officers Christian Chilson and Michael Williams. On Aug. 16—two days before the bodies were found—Jenni called 911. Police were dispatched to check on Shaun, who had been threatening to kill himself. Jenni told dispatchers she didn't want to go home, according to the claim.


When Chilson and Williams got to 39 Mildred Ave., they found Shaun had apparently barricaded the front door, the claim states. Officers took him into custody at gunpoint.


The officers called Jenni and asked her to come home "against her stated wishes," according to the claim. Police found Shaun's gun and confirmed many text messages on Jenni's and Shaun's phones.


Jenni told police she didn't want to be responsible for Shaun. Police told her Shaun would be leaving the house and she would have time to get her things out, according to the claim.


Police did not arrest Shaun but decided to place him on an emergency detention at Rock County Crisis Intervention, according to the claim. The officers took Shaun to the former Rock County Health Care Center, 3530 N. County F, Janesville, where Williams completed the emergency detention paperwork.


-- Rock County Crisis Intervention worker Terry Murphy. She conducted Shaun's mental health evaluation after Shaun was taken into custody by police, according to documents obtained by the Gazette.


According to the claim, Murphy called Williams nine minutes after Williams dropped Shaun off for the evaluation. Murphy said Shaun was going to be released to his sister, according to the claim.


Crisis intervention took Shaun to his sister's home in Milton but failed to tell her any specific information about why Shaun was there, according to the claim.


"Despite probable cause of the commission of numerous crimes, Shaun was never arrested," the claim states.


Jenni was not notified that Shaun was released from police or Rock County custody, the claim states.


The Roethe, Krohn, Pope & McCarthy Law Office, attorneys for the city of Edgerton, confirmed the city had been notified of the claim but had no comment this morning.


Click here for a full section about the Vordermann case.

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