Jensen neighbors wonder why

BERLIN TWP. Except for a small sliver of yellow police tape, there was little evidence Saturday afte
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Except for a small sliver of yellow police tape, there was little evidence Saturday afternoon of the tragic events that occurred the previous night at 5903 Ohio 113.

"It looks just like it was a day before," said Clarence Stanley, 52, who has lived in the Berlinville area his entire life. "You would never dream that anything did happen."

Neighbors in the quiet rural community of Berlinville say they cannot begin to understand what led Tom Jensen, 42, to kill his wife and then himself after a four-hour standoff with police.

Stanley, who lives a short walk from the Jensen home, said never before has anything so bad happened in Berlinville. The worst crime he could recall before Friday is having his gas can stolen.

"Stuff like that ain't supposed to happen in an area like this. Everybody knows one another, neighbors help neighbors, and they don't do that (stuff)," he said.

Authorities said Melanie Jensen, 34, was shot once in the head at about 6:50 p.m.

Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth said he was told two of the Jensens' daughters called 911.

The first deputies at the scene talked to the daughters, who said a fight had taken place and at least one shot had been fired inside the house, reports said.

Deputies made a forced entry and found Melanie Jensen's body in the dining room, Sigsworth said. They searched for Tom Jensen and found him barricaded in the workroom of his garage.

"He immediately appeared with a gun to his head and told us he intended to kill himself," Sigsworth said.

Four hours of negotiations broke down when, at about 11:14 p.m., a shot rang out. Jensen had shot himself in the head with a .357 Magnum handgun.

Throughout the entire exchange, Tom Jensen made it clear he did not plan to surrender, Sigsworth said.

As far as investigators can tell, the shooting was the result of a domestic dispute that turned violent.

"It sounds like there was an argument that spiraled out of control and a physical altercation that subsequently led to the shooting," Sigsworth said.

Bill Jagel, who lives no more than a stone's throw away from the Jensen home, said he had no suspicion anything so terrible could happen in his neighborhood.

Jagel was at a loss for words when trying to describe the sorrow he felt for the three Jensen daughters -- girls who had welcomed him to the neighborhood by bringing his dogs biscuits and treats.

"I don't know what to say. I just feel so bad for the kids," he said.

One of the three daughters may have witnessed her mother's murder, Sigsworth said. Two of the daughters are teens, and one is an adolescent, he said.

As neighbors tried to make sense of Friday's violent crime, authorities said many questions in a case like this remain unanswered.

"The big question is why, and we probably will never know that. What would have compelled him to take his wife's life and his own life? The question is why. We are left without an answer and probably will be in this case," Sigsworth said.

The Jensen daughters are staying with relatives in the area.

Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter was called to the scene and had both bodies sent to the Lucas County Coroner's office in Toledo for an autopsy.

Authorities said they were not aware of any past domestic violence complaints against Tom Jensen.