For the last six months, metro KC residents have been asking themselves how it is that Jackson County prosecutors did not charge David Jungerman with the murder of lawyer Thomas Pickert in October. Today, Wednesday, prosecutors rectified the situation by charging him with Pickert’s murder.
Although all the evidence seemed to point in that direction of Jungerman’s involvement, Sgt. Kari Thompson, a KCPD spokeswoman said of Jungerman in November, “We do not consider him a suspect at this time.”
If the KCPD did not consider Jungerman a suspect, just about everyone else did. “People have me guilty because they indicate it was my van that was there,” Jungerman told the Kansas City Star. “So people that I’ve known for years turn their back when I walk by. They look at me like I’m a murderer.”
Pickert, a trial lawyer with the firm Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger LLC in Kansas City, was shot on a Wednesday morning in October while sitting on his front porch in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood. He had just returned from walking his two sons to school. According to KMBC 9 News, the reported owner of a white van spotted fleeing the scene belonged to Jungerman.
Pickert and colleague Ryan Fowler had litigated a civil case that resulted in a $5.75 million judgment against Jungerman, and the firm was in the process of selling off Jungerman’s property to pay the judgment. The fact that Jungerman had shown a past willingness to brandish weapons made him seem the obvious suspect.
The Star reported at the time, “Police spoke with the van’s owner but did not arrest him. The van owner has not been identified as a person of interest in the shooting. On Friday, police said the case remained open and their investigation was ongoing. Police have not released any suspect information.”
According to Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Kansas City Police recently found a tape recorder and a recording in a van belonging to Jungerman. Jungerman, 80, had apparently recorded himself discussing his involvement in the murder of the lawyer on the recording.
In March, police arrested Jungerman for chasing and shooting at a man and a woman he believed had stolen iron pipe from his business. He was held on a $1 million bond. This time, prosecutors are requesting that Jungerman be held on no bond.
Arrest or no, some explanation of how Jungerman stayed free so long would be helpful.