'Don't shoot my mother!' - Report confirms Berlinville tragedy was murder-suicide

BERLINVILLE Two teenage girls tried desperately to save their parents the night a Berlinville couple
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

BERLINVILLE

Two teenage girls tried desperately to save their parents the night a Berlinville couple died in what investigative reports confirm was a murder-suicide.

Moments before Tom Jensen, 43, shot and killed his wife, Melanie, their 14-year-old daughter covered her mother's body with her own and pleaded for her father to stop.

Then, after a four-hour standoff at their home on Ohio 113, Tom said his last good-bye and shot himself.

The complete investigative report on the shooting, released Tuesday by the Erie County Sheriff's office, details the events of that evening.

On the evening of March 14, Tom and Melanie, 34, took their two oldest daughters to dinner at Max & Erma's restaurant.

Their 10-year-old daughter was at a friend's house. During the meal, Melanie took a phone call from the son of a male acquaintance. This upset their eldest daughter, Ciara, 17.

The family returned to their home and Melanie prepared to leave, as she was estranged from her husband for about a month and had been living with her sister in Margaretta Township.

Tom asked her to stay and the couple went into the master bedroom and closed the door behind them. Moments later their 17-year-old daughter saw the two fighting and her mother ran out of the room.

The teen went outside and called 911. Her sister, 14-year-old Marissa, remained inside and also called 911.

"My dad's trying to shoot my mom ... he's strangling her," Marissa screamed in between sobs as a 911 dispatcher tried to decipher what was going on.

She told the dispatcher her dad followed her mom into the kitchen and began choking her until her face turned blue. He then slammed her head on the kitchen floor as their daughter cried and screamed behind them, pleading for him to stop.

A few minutes later, she said her dad took the gun back to his bedroom, to load the gun, she believed.

The girl screamed, "Mom, Mommy, Mommy!" She covered her mother's body with her own so her father could not shoot "her in the heart."

In the 911 tape, Marissa is recorded begging her father to not shoot her mother, leave her alone and screamed, "Don't, don't, don't."

Tom picked the teen up and threw her into the living room, the 911 tape records a thud and then the line goes dead. She said she made it back into the kitchen just as her dad shot her mom in the forehead.

Marissa ran outside to join her sister, who was on the phone with 911, asking time after time how long it would be until police arrived.

Police, who broke in the door, found Melanie dead, lying on her back on the kitchen floor with a bullet wound to her forehead and marks around her neck.

Final good-byes

Tom barricaded himself in the couple's three-car garage behind a car and barbecue grill. Deputies used a sledge hammer to wedge the door open 18 inches into the cluttered garage.

They saw Tom holding a .357-caliber silver revolver to his temple, with the gun cocked back and his finger on the trigger.

He told deputies he had just killed his wife, did not want to go to prison and would only come out of the garage in a body bag. He told a detective he just "snapped" after finding out his wife was cheating and said he couldn't "take it."

Deputies listened as he made cell phone calls to loved ones to say good-bye until his battery died. As they tried to get him to surrender peacefully, he threw tools from the garage at deputies to keep them at bay.

Throughout the evening family members, including his brother-in-law Zachary Hemmer, and friends asked Tom to surrender.

Tom said "he loved his daughters and wanted to talk to them." Deputies pleaded with Tom to exit the garage so he could see his daughters.

After four hours of negotiations, at 11:14 p.m., Tom began a verbal countdown. He stepped out, said, "Bye" to an officer and then fired one round into the right side of his head. Deputies heard a thud as his body fell to the ground.

The aftermath

Hundreds of mourners paid tribute before the couple was laid to rest in Castalia Cemetery. The family is now healing.

"It's a difficult situation, but we are getting through it," said Jackie Linden, Melanie's sister. "It helps that we're kind of a close family."

Family members are still shocked at what took place that night.

"That really wasn't Tom," she said. "We don't know exactly what happened. He was a very loving and kind man."

"Things happen, people snap," said Hemmer, Melanie's brother. "Everybody does things that they wish they could take back and it's something he couldn't take back."

The family remains appreciative to the sheriff's office for their work and the community for reaching out to the three Jensen girls.

"It's been a tragedy, but in the same boat, a lot of people came through and helped out and (have) been very generous," Hemmer said.

The girls are living with their grandparents.

"They're dealing with it as good as can be expected," Linden said. "They are getting back to being kids."

Instead of remembering the shooting, family members say they try to remember who Tom and Melanie were.

"Everybody's dealing with it," Hemmer said. "It happened -- it's unfortunate. We still remember they were both very good people."

HOW TO HELP

WHAT: "THE JENSEN GIRLS BENEFIT POKER RUN"

WHEN: JUNE 28

TIME: DAY-OF REGISTRATION BEGINS AT 11:30 A.M.

WHERE: CHEERS SPORTS BAR & GRILL AT SANDUSKY MALL

DETAILS: POKER RUN IS $10 PER PERSON AND CAN INCLUDE MOTORCYCLES OR VEHICLES. FUNDRAISER ACTIVITIES WILL TAKE PLACE AT ABOUT 6-7 P.M. AT SHIFTERS BAR & GRILL.

TO REGISTER BY MAIL, MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: "THE JENSEN GIRLS BENEFIT POKER RUN", P.O. BOX 624, CASTALIA, OH 44824

FOR INFORMATION CALL ADAM AT 614-395-0695