Crime

Suspect in Brookside killing accidentally taped his talk about murder, police say

Wife of slain lawyer comments after suspect charged in death

Emily Riegel spoke at a news conference Wednesday where David Jungerman was charged in the October, 2017 shooting death of Riegel's husband Tom Pickert.
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Emily Riegel spoke at a news conference Wednesday where David Jungerman was charged in the October, 2017 shooting death of Riegel's husband Tom Pickert.

An 80-year-old man has been charged with murder in the shooting death last fall of Kansas City attorney Tom Pickert.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges Wednesday at a news conference at the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in Kansas City.

David Jungerman is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of Pickert, who was found shot to death Oct. 25 on the front porch of his home in the 200 block of West 66th Terrace a day after Jungerman was served with property liens to satisfy a $5.75 million civil judgment Pickert had won against him.

The case had remained unsolved for months. In November, Kansas City police said Jungerman, who had fallen under media scrutiny after the shooting, was not a suspect.

David Jungerman
David Jungerman Kansas City Police Department

But Jungerman accidentally recorded himself saying he killed Pickert within weeks of the shooting, according to a probable cause affidavit supporting the murder charge.

The recording was from a court hearing in Vernon County, according to the documents. But it appeared Jungerman never turned off the recorder he had been using, and it kept running after he left court and met up with another person.

"People uh know that I murdered that son of a..." he is quoted as saying.

Speculation had fallen on Jungerman within hours of the shooting in part because of his connection to Pickert. Jungerman, a farmer and maker of baby furniture who lives in Raytown, had recently lost a $5.75 million lawsuit to Pickert, who practiced personal injury law.

The day before the shooting, Jungerman was served with property liens to pay the judgment.

Jungerman told an employee in March that he "killed a lawyer with a gun and gotten away with it," according to court documents. "He did it because the lawyer stole his money."

Emily Riegel, Pickert's widow, thanked police for their investigative work in the tragic death of her husband.

"We are grieving," she said. "We are desperately trying to find our way forward."

According to court documents, Jungerman shot Pickert with a .17-caliber firearm — an obscure weapon used by farmers and ranchers to kill pests.

Investigators also found that Jungerman had transferred money and property to his daughter. Jungerman's assets totaled about $33 million. Jungerman had withdrawn $5 million from his bank account.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced that David Jungerman has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of Kansas City attorney Tom Pickert.

During the investigation, police examined hundreds of hours of video from surveillance cameras from at least two businesses. In the video, a van matching the description of Jungerman's was visible, but not its license plate.

In the lawsuit, Pickert was representing one of four men Jungerman shot within a month in 2012. All were men he encountered at night in a building associated with his baby furniture business in Kansas City’s northeast neighborhood.

Jungerman, who said the men were stealing copper and that he acted in self-defense, is appealing the judgment. He was not charged in those shootings.

In interviews with The Star, Jungerman denied being at the scene of the Pickert shooting.

Police said Thursday that Jungerman was not a suspect in the fatal shooting of Tom Pickert.

Jungerman was in custody at the Jackson County jail when the charges were announced. He is being held without bond in a March 8 shooting incident in which he is accused of a shooting at a man he suspected of stealing 780 pounds of iron pipe from his building.

On Wednesday, Peters Baker said prosecutors are asking that Jungerman continue to be held without bond.

Pickert had just returned home after walking his children to school when he was shot.

Witnesses told investigators that a white van and an older, gray-haired man were at the scene of the shooting, according to court documents. The van and the man matched the general description of Jungerman and his van.

Riegel spoke last month at Kansas City's March for Our Lives protest, delivering an impassioned plea against gun violence.

Emily Riegel, Indivisible KC co-founder and widow of slain Brookside attorney Tom Pickert, spoke about her husband's death at March for Our Lives and called for continued efforts to stop gun violence.

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