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The first bullet missed Thomas Pickert.

Talking on his cell phone, Pickert apparently didn’t know he’d been fired at. Momentary confusion and uncertainty followed.

Then came a second shot. It struck its mark.

Pickert fell down on the sidewalk in front of his home. When his wife got to him moments later, the 39-year-old lawyer was dead, and a white van was leaving the scene, headed west on 66th Terrace. It turned north on either Brookside Road or Wornall.

…Those details, previously unreported, as far as I know, are contained in a search warrant issued on Oct. 25, the day of the murder.

Jungerman

The search warrant — a public record I obtained from the Jackson County Circuit Court yesterday — reveals significant circumstantial evidence pointing toward 79-year-old David Jungerman as the possible shooter.

As straightforward and dry as they customarily are, police and criminal-case records often tell a dramatic story of how a crime occurred and who may have perpetrated it. This is a classic example.

But before the details, a bit of background. Pickert had represented a man who won a $5.75 million civil judgment against Jungerman in July. Pickert represented a homeless man whom Jungerman had shot after discovering him and another man in a building Jungerman owns.

The day before Pickert was murdered, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department had served Jungerman with notice that the court was beginning the process of seizing property he owns in Jackson County, as well as Vernon and Bates counties in southwest Missouri.

Although Jungerman had appealed the judgment, he apparently was not able to post a bond (the amount of which was probably quite large) that would “stay” execution of the judgment.

Kansas City police quickly homed in on Jungerman as someone they wanted to talk to about the murder. One thing that aroused their interest was that after the verdict was announced, “Jungerman had an outburst in the courtroom where he cursed and yelled…at court personnel, including the victim.”

Another incriminating fact: A records check showed Jungerman owned a white van.

At 11:03 p.m. Oct. 25 — 15 hours after the murder — KCPD Det. Bonita Cannon filed a warrant application to search a white 1997 Chevrolet Express — its license number listed in the warrant application — believed to be owned by Jungerman. Detective Cannon wrote that the van was thought to be located on the premises of a home in the 9200 block of East 60th Terrace in Raytown.

At 11:04 p.m. Oct. 25 — a minute after the application was filed with the Jackson County Circuit Court — a judge signed the warrant application.The warrant was executed either that night or the next day. Police apparently seized and searched the vehicle and also questioned Jungerman. They did not arrest him, and they have not identified him as a suspect.

A generic 1997 Chevrolet Express van.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, back to the warrant itself…

Police took statements from two people at or near the murder scene. (The warrant does not identify either by name.)

“Witness #1 stated he observed a white van, with no windows on the driver side other than driver door, east on 67th Street, turn north on Linden (Road)…He stated the vehicle was parked for a few minutes, saw an older, gray haired, white male standing near the back side of the van, before getting into the driver’s seat. The older white male drove west on 66th Terrace and park (stet) ahead of a blue truck, on the north side of the street on 66th Terrace, across from the dispatch address.”

Here’s what the warrant says regarding the second witness, apparently Pickert’s wife, Emily Riegel, a physician with the University of Kansas Health System.

“Witness #2 stated she was inside the residence at the dispatched address when she heard a loud noise. When she looked out the window, she observed the victim standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, talking on his cell phone. She asked if he knew what the sound was, he replied, “No.” Witness #2 stated she told the victim to come inside of the house, as she moved back into the bedroom. Witness #2 stated she heard a second loud noise. When she looked back out the window, she could no longer see the victim but did observe a white snub nosed van, on the north side of the street on 66th Terrace, facing west bound with no windows on (the) side, leaving the scene westbound on West 66th Terrace. She believed the vehicle then went north on either Wornall Road or Brookside Road.”

Thomas Pickert was fatally shot in this block of 66th Terrace, just east of Brookside Road. (Brookside Road should not be confused with Brookside Boulevard, which runs from 49th Street to a block south of 63rd Street. This shot is looking east.)

**

The warrant does not indicate if either witness got a close enough look at the van driver to identify him. Also, it does not indicate if the first witness got the license plate number or if police got that from state vehicle registration records. What the warrant says on those two points is: “Jungerman fits the description from the witness at the scene and his vehicle fits the description provided by both witnesses.”

Police wanted to process the van, the warrant says, “for bullet fragment, firearms, ammunition, spent shell casings, photographs, DNA, trace evidence to include but not limited to blood, hair fibers, fingerprints and other microscopic evidence.”

Now, fast forward to Thursday, Nov. 1, two days ago. Detective Cannon filed an “officer’s return” document with the Circuit Court reporting the basic results of the vehicle search.

In cursive, she wrote on the one-page return what police recovered from the van and what they did to extract possible evidence. Here’s an image of that page…

The application for the search warrant, the signed warrant and the “officer’s return” are the only public documents that have been filed in the case, as far as I know.

**

Here is some information about Jungerman that helps with context.

:: In court records from numerous civil cases he has been involved in, Jungerman listed his address as 6000 Elm Avenue, Raytown. That, however, is a vacant lot adjacent to Elm Lake, which is more like a large pond. As I noted above, police listed an address for Jungerman on East 60th Terrace. The house is a long stone’s throw from the vacant lot.

Here is a screen shot of the intersection of East 60th Terrace and Elm Avenue.

:: For many years, Jungerman has owned a company that manufactures baby high chairs, which are sold through distributors. The name of the company is Baby Tenda Corp., also known as Babee Tenda. I believe the homeless man who won the big judgment last summer was shot in the building that houses Baby Tenda. Jungerman shot the man, and possibly another man, after finding them on his property in 2012. The man who won the $5.75 million jury award had to have a leg amputated as a result of his injuries.

The building that houses the Baby Tenda company is at 123 S. Belmont Blvd. in northeast Kansas City (below). The business appeared to be operating as recently as a few days ago, when I drove by.

:: Jungerman has been through two divorces in Jackson County in recent years. Court records show he married a woman in October 2012 and that a dissolution was granted in July 2014. The woman’s age is not listed, and they had no children.

He married again three months later, in October 2014. A motion for dissolution was filed in August 2015, and a dissolution was granted in December 2015. The woman’s year of birth was listed as 1957, which would make her almost 20 years younger than Jungerman, who was born in 1938. They had no children.

A 2010 blog post I found in researching Jungerman referenced a daughter, which leads me to believe he has had at least one other marriage in his lifetime.

…The fellow appears to cover a lot of ground and leave a rough wake.

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It’s a new day and I’ve got more new information about David Jungerman, whom Kansas City police suspect — but aren’t saying so publicly — in the Wednesday, Oct. 25, murder of lawyer Thomas Pickert.

At the same time the 79-year-old Jungerman is facing foreclosure on his property to satisfy a multi-million-dollar civil judgment, he is also fighting a criminal charge stemming from allegedly threatening a tenant of his in June 2016.

As nearly I can tell from entries in case.net, which provides public access to Missouri court records, Jungerman is charged with misdemeanor harassment. Misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to a year in jail.

A most interesting development took place in that case on Tuesday of this week, when the Kansas City attorney who had been representing Jungerman, Brian Lee Palmer, was allowed to withdraw.

Even more interesting, Palmer had entered his appearance on behalf of Jungerman only 13 days earlier, on Oct. 18.

One more pertinent fact: On Oct. 25, the day Pickert was shot at close range while sitting on his front porch in Brookside, Palmer filed a motion with the court to take the deposition of a witness.

Here’s that time line:

:: Oct. 18, Palmer enters his appearance in the harassment case
:: Oct. 25, Pickert is shot and killed about 8:07 a.m.
:: Oct. 25, Palmer files a motion to depose a witness in the harassment case
:: Oct. 30, Palmer asks to be released from the case
:: Oct. 31, Palmer is allowed to withdraw

What does that look like to you?

My take is Palmer got involved with Jungerman innocently enough, but after the complexion of things changed dramatically in a matter of days…out the door he went.

Brian Lee Palmer

I was fortunate enough to have a brief chat with Palmer after he picked up the phone this evening in his Crown Center office. After I stated the reason for my call — wanting to know why he up and left as Jungerman’s attorney — he replied:

“Thank you for your call, and I have no comment on anything related to that. And good luck with your article.”

(Very gracious of him, I thought, to wish me luck — don’t get that too often — but it was completely unnecessary.)

…I alluded to the harassment case in yesterday’s post, having received from a friend last week a “probable cause” statement pertaining to an incident that occurred in a village not far from Nevada, MO, in Vernon County, about 100 miles south of Kansas City.

I didn’t have time to follow up on that case yesterday, but I began sorting through it late this afternoon on case.net.

Jungerman, who is listed in whitepages.com as living in Raytown, owns or owned a rental home in Vernon County. On June, 28, 2016, the probable cause statement says, Jungerman kicked in the door of the home and confronted the tenant, demanding to know, “When are you getting out of here you mother fucker?”

The tenant said Jungerman had a handgun in his waistband, and a witness said Jungerman placed his hand on the gun while “yelling and cussing” at the tenant.

A sheriff’s deputy responding to a 9-1-1 call from a witness spoke with Jungerman outside the house. The deputy said he told Jungerman that in order to remove the tenant “he had to go through the legal eviction process.” The deputy also asked Jungerman if he had a firearm, and Jungerman said he had one in the center console of his car.

The deputy then retrieved a .40 caliber Glock, semi-automatic handgun from the console. “There was (stet) a total of 10 hollow point rounds in the Glock,” the deputy wrote in the probably cause statement.

Hollow points. Wikipedia describes a hollow-point bullet as one having “a pit or hollowed-out shape in its tip often intended to cause the bullet to expand upon entering a target.”

…The probable cause statement alleges Jungerman committed two felonies — burglary and armed criminal action — and one misdemeanor — harassment– and case.net indicates it was originally filed as a felony case. Somewhere along the line, however, it appears to have been reduced to a misdemeanor.

The case was originally assigned to a judge in Vernon County but was transferred, for a reason not explained in case.net, to Barton County, immediately south of Vernon County. (The Barton County seat is Lamar, best known, perhaps, as the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman.)

At first, Jungerman didn’t have an attorney and was representing himself. In September 2016, a Joplin attorney, William Fleischaker, entered his appearance on behalf of Jungerman. Fleischaker was the attorney of record until last April, when he withdrew. Six months later, Palmer entered his appearance.

 

**

The last case.net entry was made Tuesday, the day Brian Palmer exited. The judge in the case, David R. Munton, said this:

“If defendant does hire counsel by 11/16/2017, then court will probably continue the trial (which is scheduled to start the last week of November). If not, it will confirm to the court that defendant is not serious about wanting counsel and is trying to manipulate the court to get his court date continued.”

In any event, the judge noted, the case is on hold until at least Nov. 16.

After a couple of days of intense coverage of the Thomas Pickert murder last week, the story has basically gone quiet. One reason for the news vacuum is simple: KCPD has clammed up. (Another reason, unfortunately, is many reporters are too focused on “what new story have you got for me today?”)

When I called Officer Darin Snapp of the media department this morning, he had a quick and short answer to my question about the Pickert case: “Nothing new on that.”

…But don’t be fooled into thinking the case has gone “cold” after a week. This is all by design.

A lawyer friend of mine who has more than a passing knowledge of the case gave me some insight into the strategy today.

Here’s what’s going on, according to my source:

First, although police have not named a suspect, they have one. And guess who it is? Why, you’re right. It’s 79-year-old David Jungerman, whom police questioned the day after the slaying and whose 1997 Chevy van — with plates registered to him — they went looking for immediately after Pickert, 39, was shot at close range on his front porch in Brookside.

Second, Jungerman may well have contacted a local criminal defense attorney.

I called the attorney, John Picerno, this morning, and he was eager to talk about the case — other than the specific point about whether Jungerman had contacted him.

“I couldn’t comment on that one way or the other,” Picerno said, adding that he was “not involved in the case.”

When I told my source about Picerno’s no comment, my source responded by saying: “Ha! I knew it. I guarantee he will enter his appearance,” if and when Jungerman is charged.

My source’s theory is that police have gone quiet in hopes of lulling Jungerman into a false sense of security while they try to dig up evidence and develop a solid case.

“They don’t want to rattle this guy,” my source said. “They’ve gone radio silent to get him to come out of the woodwork.”

The source said it is not particularly noteworthy that police have not named Jungerman a suspect. The lawyer pointed out this investigation is following the same pattern police utilized in the case of suspected serial killer Fredrick Scott, 23, who is charged with three murders and suspected in three others.

In that case, you’ll recall, police released surveillance video of a man who had been walking in the Indian Creek Trail area where Mike Darby, one of the victims, was murdered. In releasing the video, police advised the media that the person in the video was not considered a suspect but someone who “may have vital information.”

It turned out the person in the video was, indeed, Scott.

**

Jungerman

We all know about the circumstances surrounding the Pickert murder. He was one of the lead lawyers in a civil case in which a homeless man sued Jungerman for shooting him in 2012 while he was on Jungerman’s property. During the summer, a jury awarded the victim $5.75 million, and the day before Pickert was murdered Jackson County Circuit Court officials sent Jungerman’s attorney notice that the court would begin the process of seizing Jungerman’s real estate to satisfy the judgment.

In 1990, in Raytown, Jungerman detained at gunpoint four teenagers he and his daughter came across on property he owns (or owned). When police arrived, however, they turned the tables on Jungerman, charging him with a gun violation. Jungerman was later convicted of a misdemeanor in that case.We also know Jungerman was a gun nut.

Last year, in Vernon County, Missouri, he threatened a tenant while displaying a gun in his belt. A probably cause statement says Jungerman got in the tenant’s face and said, “When are you getting out of here you mother fucker?”

Jungerman is also a braggart. In a video from a deposition taken in the case of the homeless man who got shot, Pickert noted in questioning Jungerman that Jungerman fired five times and struck the man with three bullets.

Jungerman replied: “That’s pretty good from the hip isn’t it? That’s lucky shooting, isn’t it?”

Undoubtedly, Jungerman is hoping luck was with him last Wednesday, the day Pickert was killed, and he’s hoping he won’t end up like Fredrick Scott, sitting in a Jackson County Jail cell awaiting trial on a murder charge.

On the other hand, police are hoping Jungerman, with his loud-mouth, reckless ways, will either have left incriminating evidence or he’ll be bragging to someone about a dastardly deed he might have been involved in a week ago today.

The final push toward getting voter approval of a new KCI terminal is on, and the big money is flowing freely.

With a week to go before the Nov. 7 election on Kansas City Question 1, the campaign committee working for passage has raised nearly $1.5 million and has spent all but about $80,000 of that.

(The official name of the campaign committee is KC Transportation, Transit and Tourism, but it is operating under the slogan “A Better KCI.”)

The campaign’s biggest expenses include nearly $250,000 for mailings and postage (I’m sure you’ve seen some of the mailers, if you live in the city) and more than $200,000 for polling, strategy and voter research.

A recent mailer

And if you watch a lot of TV but haven’t seen any TV ads, you soon will: The campaign has bought $630,000 worth of “media.”

Some of the biggest contributors so far include the Heavy Constructors Association, $135,000; Cerner Corp. and its political action committee, $125,000; Southwest Airlines, HNTB Corp., KCP&L Co., Pipe Fitters Local No. 533 and Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council, $50,000 each; and Lockton Companies, $40,000.

A flock of companies and organizations have given $25,000 each. That group includes JE Dunn Construction, Black & Veatch, Operating Engineers Local 101, American Century Investments, Kansas City Southern, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, DST Systems Inc., Sprint and Hallmark Cards.

The two biggest individual contributors that I saw in campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission were Paul DeBruce, former chairman and C.E.O. of DeBruce Grain, $15,000, and William Gautreaux, a former energy industry executive, $10,000.

Ten-thousand-dollar contributions of note came from Taxpayers Unlimited, the political arm of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local No. 42; the Kansas City Chiefs; Hunt Midwest; and Clarkson Construction, which would partner with Edgemoor, a Maryland firm, on construction of the terminal.

Edgemoor has contributed more than $70,000, including a $60,000 monetary contribution and more than $10,000 in “in-kind” services. In addition, The Star reported today that even Burns & McDonnell, which attempted early on to get a no-bid contract to build the terminal, gave $20,000 within the last few days.

…What to make of all this?

Well, as I said in a recent post, the sausage, once made, looks a lot better than it did in the making.

The process of getting the measure to a public vote bordered on being a certifiable disaster, with twists, turns and pivots that a serpent couldn’t manage. But somehow the City Council set an election date and weeks later designated a contractor, Edgemoor. And even without a decent design that shows what the new terminal would look like, it appears Question 1 has an excellent chance of gaining voter approval.

Why? Because what we’re seeing now is the unleashing of a tremendous amount of pent-up energy and cash from people and companies that have long wanted a new airport and have recognized, with eyes lasered on the future, that we desperately need one.

Some of those people and companies stand to make out handsomely from construction of a new airport, and some people — campaign consultants and strategists, in particular — are making a lot of money from the campaign itself.

But that’s OK. That’s the way it is in a lot of issue and candidate elections. People and companies put money into campaigns for a multitude of reasons, and sometimes the end result is good for everyone — even the public.

This is such a case!

From my perspective, there’s no reason to be cynical about the money cascading into the campaign…or the people who are making money directly off this campaign…or those who will make money if the new terminal proceeds. This is how the system works; this is what it takes to get a new airport. This is the winding, bumpy road that leads to real progress.

As I’ve said fairly consistently — with a couple of hiccups when it looked like the sausage was completely mangled — I’m all in.

I’ve said it many times: This is a first-class city that needs and deserves a first-class airport. What we’ve got now is a dump.

I say…screw the “convenience” of walking from curb to gate. Once you’re in the gate area, you might as well be in what Jackson County officials used to call the holding areas in the old jail on top of the courthouse: “tanks.”

I’m tired of being in those KCI tanks, and I’m tired of that dreary airport. I’m tired of looking at a crumbling Terminal A, and I’m tired of walking in an endless half-circle looking for someplace to buy an honest-to-God sandwich. (Can’t be had.)

I’m ready for some sunlight splashing down through curving glass ceilings onto the two concourses and the connecting walkway. I’m ready for nice selection of retail stores and restaurants and plenty of stations to charge mobile devices. And, yes, I’m ready for the MOVING WALKWAYS.

Now we’re talking convenience, goddamit!

Kansas City Star readers and City Hall watchers have been treated the last two days to an entertaining and enlightening spat between City Manager Troy Schulte and a handful of City Council members who have been feeling ignored.

I’m sure most of you have heard by now that Schulte reacted strongly and noisily to a proposed ordinance that would reduce the dollar amount of no-bid contracts he could award without council approval.

He essentially dared the council to fire him. If they did, he said, “I’ll earn more money and sleep better at night.”

The story was entertaining because we readers (and sometimes even reporters) aren’t always privy to the internal tensions and frictions that are bubbling up at the cauldron that is City Hall. (I’ve always said anything big that happens in Kansas City starts, goes through or ends at City Hall.)

The story was enlightening because it cast into sharp relief — for the first time in a big way publicly — the divide between council members who are unfailingly loyal to Mayor Sly James and a smaller contingent — led loosely by council members Katheryn Shields and Teresa Loar — that feels marginalized.

Among other things, the rump group has complained about not being informed of developments pertaining to the proposed convention hotel and also about James’ attempted Hail Mary pass to Burns & McDonnell on a no-bid, new-airport contract.

Today, I’m not getting into the councilmanic fissure, interesting though it is. What I am here to do is point out that we readers owe these last two days of compelling news stories to one thing: aggressive, on-the-ball reporting.

Turque

The credit goes, specifically, to City Hall reporter Bill Turque, who has been on the beat less than two months, having succeeded the very capable Lynn Horsley, who covered the city for nearly 20 years.

Turque, who came to The Star from The Washington Post, approached Schulte early this week to get his reaction to the ordinance that would limit his contracting prerogatives.

Turque’s questions must have struck a nerve with Schulte because, instead of giving a diplomatic answer, like, “Well, I’m not too thrilled about this but we’ll see where it goes,” he chose to pick up an hammer and start swinging.

Experienced and savvy reporter that he is, Turque took full advantage of Schulte’s temperamental lapse. Turque charged onto the front page Thursday with a story under the headline: “City manager defies council pressure.”

Very wisely, Turque wasted no time getting to the most explosive of Schulte’s quotes:

“If the core issue is, quite honestly, that they don’t like my management style or where they think I’m taking the organization, that’s easy. That’s seven signatures on the paper with the mayor and nine without the mayor, and I’m gone tomorrow. I’ll earn more money and sleep better at night. Life’s too short.”

Wow…As a former reporter, I’ll tell you, you don’t often get quotes like that handed to you on a platter. It’s strictly a gift from God and something not to be passed up. And yet in the hands of a less experienced, less finely attuned reporter and writer, it could easily have been fumbled. A lesser reporter could have failed to recognize that it was not only a money quote but, more important, it represented the eruption of the long-simmering divide between the pro-Sly and anti-Sly council factions.

Turque saw it for all it was and leapt. As a result of his perspicacity, we now have what we in the news business refer to as “a story with legs.”

Turque scored a good follow-up in today’s paper, with Schulte allowing as how he wished he hadn’t vented his frustration to Turque, and the editorial board jumped in the breach, saying firing Schulte “would be a mistake.” Looking farther ahead, though, this eruption paves the way for more stories exploring the divide between the two council factions. In fact, that divide could now become the defining element of the last 18 months of James’ second and last mayoral term.

…This story is a seminal development on the local journalistic front, too. It tends to validate Turque’s appointment to the city beat and also ease any misgivings regular readers may have had about Lynn Horsley’s displacement.

Frankly, Turque came in under a bit of a cloud. Although hailing from one of the two best papers in the country — The Washington Post — his appointment was met with mumblings of discontent among some former Star reporters and editors because nepotism was at the root of his hiring: Early this year, The Star hired his wife, Melinda Henneberger, as an Op-Ed columnist and editorial writer.

No less than the recently departed, former reporter Laura Hockaday denounced Turque’s hiring — in so many words — on this blog back in August. To my post about a “package deal at 18th and Grand,” Laura appended this comment:

“Taking Lynn Horsley away from City Hall, where she has worked her tail off for The Star for years, leaves a tragic void. She is a heroine and a real trooper for staying on and covering Johnson County politics. As you indicated, it (Johnson County) will be covered by a pro who has no peer.”

If you knew Laura, you know she was lashing out in frustration because of her tremendous loyalty to long-serving KC Star colleagues, many of whom were her friends. She probably didn’t know Turque, or didn’t know him very well, even though he served an earlier, four-year stint at The Star from 1977 to 1981.

I think if Laura was with us today, she would rescind her words about “a tragic void” and would acknowledge that Turque produced a damn good story this week.

That’s not taking anything away from Lynn, whom all of us former editorial KC Star staff members love and admire. But I think it’s safe to say, now, it appears likely we’re going to continue getting first-rate coverage of City Hall from The Star.

Congratulations, Bill! Great story.

We had a wonderful event in the Brookside area today — the rededication of the Sea Horse Fountain at Meyer Circle.

It was the culmination of a bi-state, public-private partnership that led to a $900,000 renovation of the venerable fountain, as well as a successful drive for a $350,000-plus endowment to help maintain the fountain in the future.

But as glorious an occasion — and beautiful day — as this was, Brookside was in a state of upheaval and unease. Because, as most of you know by know, shortly after 8 a.m. today, a 39-year-old lawyer was shot down, execution style, outside his home near 66th Terrace and Brookside Road, between Main and Wornall.

Thomas Pickert

The lawyer, Thomas Pickert, had walked his two sons to school — not sure which school — and had returned home. “It appears that our victim was sitting on his front porch of his residence when he was shot,” police spokeswoman Sgt. Kari Thompson was quoted as saying. “The victim’s spouse heard something and came out and discovered her spouse on the ground.”

This murder — again as most of you know by now — was not random. The Star’s story provides the backdrop for this most unusual occurrence:

“Pickert won a $5.75 million judgment this summer against a businessman who had shot a homeless man on his property. Last week, Jackson County court officials started the process of seizing the man’s real estate to pay the judgment. The court filed paperwork that would prevent the man from selling or transferring the property.

“On Tuesday, the court sent the man’s attorney notice of its actions. The real estate to be seized for the judgment were the man’s business building and a home.”

Another extremely unusual thing about this case — besides occurring in quiet, upscale Brookside: The likely suspect in the murder is a 79-year-old man who owns a significant amount of property — or at least he did back in 2010.

That man is David Jungerman of Raytown. A 1997 Chevy van is registered to him — and that police were looking for — was found this afternoon, but as of this writing Jungerman had not been found.

My wife Patty believes he is dead by now, having committed suicide. Patty’s instincts are good, and I think she’s probably on target.

But before I delve more into Jungerman, let’s consider for a minute the plight of the remaining members of the Pickert family…His wife is a physician at the University of Kansas Health System. As The Star’s story said, she was at home; she hears a shot, or something loud noise, goes outside and finds her husband on the ground, lifeless.

How could a spouse come across a more incredible, horrifying scene, right outside her front door?

Imagine her state of mind and her despair tonight.

And the two sons…Their father walks them to school on a beautiful, fall morning. They part. Surely he smiles at them. Probably waves and says something like, “Have fun; I love you.”

Within half an hour, he’s dead. Sometime soon after that the boys undoubtedly are summoned to the office and picked up by a relative or family friend. Mom — in all likelihood — has to tell them Dad is dead.

Imagine their state of mind — their confusion and horror — not only today but for days, months, probably years to come.

…Now back to the possible shooter.

I regret I have to bring politics into this, but political conservatism  and intolerance are integral elements of Jungerman’s make-up. Fact is he’s a right-wing, gun-totin’ nut.

Proof? Check…

Tonight I found a website called Theodore’s World, that goes by the tag line “The PC Free Zone Gazette is American first and Conservative second. It is never anti-American.”

On June 24, 2010, “Theodore” published a post about Jungerman. “Theodore’s” story begins like this:

“A Missouri man’s sign painted on the side of an empty trailer along U.S. 71 has been torched twice in recent weeks. David Jungerman placed the trailer and sign in his field along the major highway, saying:

“Are you a Producer or Parasite

“Democrats — Party of Parasites”

David Jungerman and his “producer or parasite” message in 2010

I remember that trailer. I either read a story about it or passed it on 71. It was in Bates County, about an hour south of Kansas City.

“Theodore” (there’s nothing I found that explains who is or where he lives) went on to report that Jungerman “farms 6,800 acres of river bottom land” and that he was “a staunch believer in personal responsibility.”

To wit: “In 1990, he and his daughter confronted four teens they caught fishing in a pond on their Raytown land. The boys called them names and threatened them…and one spit on Jungerman’s daughter. Jungerman pulled a snub-nosed .38-caliber and held them until police arrived.”

Undoubtedly to Jungerman’s surprise, however, Raytown police didn’t arrest the boys; they arrested him and charged him with a gun violation.

For his part, Jungerman claimed police took his Rolex watch and never returned it. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, and five years later he sued the city of Raytown for the value of the watch.

“Theodore” reported that Jungerman prevailed in the lawsuit and won $$9,175.

Now, I don’t care who won the case, and I hope the Raytown cops didn’t steal the watch. My takeaway is even in the context of “Theodore’s” sympathetic report, Jungerman clearly does not handle disputes well.

Oh, and about that case where Pickert, the lawyer from Brookside, won the $5.75 million verdict against Jungerman…More backdrop from The Star:

“The lawsuit stemmed from a 3 a.m. shooting on the man’s warehouse property in 2012. A homeless man tripped an alarm on the property and the owner responded. He shot the man, causing him to have his leg amputated, according to a story in Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

“During his closing argument in the case, Pickert gave an emotional argument for a jury verdict against the 79-year-old man for the shooting (saying), ‘A verdict for (Jungerman) is giving him and others like him permission to take the law into their own hands, to be judge, jury and executioner…That’s not the way our society works.’ “

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case: Right-wing, fuckin’ nut job.

Laura Rollins Hockaday, an irrepressible cheerleader for The Kansas City Star and a reporter who contributed mightily to expanding the paper’s reach into and standing with minority communities, died last night at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Laura, whom I got to know shortly after arriving at The Star in 1969, suffered from a variety of medical problems in recent weeks, including heart trouble.

A longtime friend of Laura’s, retired reporter John Dvorak, said this in an early-morning email:

“Over the weekend she was removed from various breathing and drug assistance as doctors worked to see if she could move forward on her own. She was doing better for a while and became more alert. But then she declined again and passed away.”

In a story on its website, The Star reported that Laura was 79. She worked at The Star from 1962 to 2000, when she retired. During that time, she held a number of positions, including travel editor, society editor and “people” editor.

Laura, speaking at a 2010 Kansas City Library event

…This is a sad day for Kansas City, which she loved unconditionally, and for her former Kansas City Star colleagues, whose friendship she nurtured and held dear to the end.

Her death is a personal loss to me. I have written this blog since March 2010, and Laura has been a strong supporter from the beginning. She has offered encouragement both when I have been on target and when I have embarrassed myself. And she has been one of the most frequent commenters on the blog, having weighed in more than 200 times during the last 7-plus years.

Her last comments were posted on Aug. 27. One of two comments she posted that day reflected her unfailing loyalty to longtime Star staff members. In that comment she chided Star editors for moving veteran reporter Lynn Horsley from the City Hall beat in favor of an outsider who was hired at least partly because his wife became a member of The Star’s editorial board early this year.

Laura wrote: “Taking Lynn Horsley away from City Hall, where she has worked her tail off for The Star for years, leaves a tragic void. She is a heroine and a real trooper for staying on and covering Johnson County politics.”

**

Laura made her biggest, most lasting mark on the paper as society editor. She assumed that post in the late ’70, I believe, after the paper was sold to a media conglomerate called Capital Cities Inc., which brought in a Texan named James H. Hale as publisher.

In a 2016 freelance article about “The Star’s glory days,” former reporter Charles Hammer of Shawnee recounted Laura’s mindset when she took that job.

“For the 80 years since The Star’s founding, it had appeared that Kansas City had no black society, people who attend elegant parties and throw lavish weddings for their daughters. With Laura steering the selection, beautiful black ladies in long dresses appeared again and again on our page as they cut tall wedding cakes. She integrated Kansas city society, at least in our newspaper.”

In a 2012 comment on this blog, Laura offered more insight into how she came to become society editor.

“When I was asked to take over as society editor and leave the travel editor post, I refused because I was not interested. The offer came up again and O.J. Nelson, my editor, suggested I better comply the second time. I asked Mr. Hale if I could cover the African-American and Hispanic communities on the society pages, where they deserved to be and virtually had not been previously. He agreed totally and I was allowed to proceed without any rules or direction from him. For 18 years, until retiring I tried to cover the entire community and in the process learned so much and made many friends which I have to this day. It was a blessing.”

**

Laura was born a blue blood — great-granddaughter of a U.S. congressman named James S. Rollins, who helped found the University of Missouri — but she was the most everyday, humble person you could ever come across. Over the years, she sought out hundreds of newcomers to The Star and welcomed them with a handshake and big, warm smile. And once you were her friend, you were her friend as long as you wanted to be. There were very few people she couldn’t abide, and she seldom spoke harshly of anyone.

Not long after retiring, Laura began holding annual reunions — in mid-October at the Kansas City Country Club — for former Star editorial staff members and their spouses. About 100 select people would customarily attend. The main course was always the same — chicken tetrazzini — and Laura always made a short speech. She would single out particular guests who had, say, written a book or received an accolade, and she would always close by saying how much she cherished her years at The Star and how important the relationships she had made there were to her.

Earlier this month, the reunion went on without her. Standing in as hosts were former Star reporter Betsey Solberg and her husband, Rick, a former Star photographer. I didn’t attend this year’s reunion, but now I wish I had. I wish I would have heard what Betsey and Rick said about Laura, who, for once, was the one receiving the plaudits.

Laura never married, and her life revolved around The Star: first working there, later her memories of working there and finally tending to the enduring friendships she made during her remarkable, outstanding career.

Rest in peace, Laura. Those of us who were in your wide circle will miss you dearly.