By Paul Thompson
Authorities have charged Northeast business owner David Jungerman with the October 2017 murder of lawyer Thomas Pickert in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood.
Early in the afternoon of Wednesday, April 11, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced charges of Murder in the 1st Degree and Armed Criminal Action against Jungerman in connection to the October 25, 2017 murder of Pickert. The case against Jungerman, owner of Baby-Tenda Corporation at 131 Belmont, was laid out in charging documents attached to the press release.
According to authorities, the motive for the homicide stemmed from an August 3, 2017 verdict that awarded $5.75 million to a burglar Jungerman had shot at his Historic Northeast business in 2012. Pickert, who represented the victim in that case, told his wife that Jungerman issued a threat after the verdict.
“None of this matters. I have 186 guns,” Jungerman allegedly told Pickert. “I did it once before. I will do it again. You can’t touch me.”
By August 8, 2017, investigators found that Jungerman had begun protecting his money. On that day, he ordered a $144,487.63 cashier’s check for his daughter from an account at United Missouri Bank (UMB). On August 14, 2017, he deposited a set of checks totaling roughly $4.97 million into the UMB account, only to withdraw nearly the same amount three days later. Jungerman continued opening accounts and depositing funds over the next week. On August 24, deposits for $900,000 and $1,573,200 were made in the names of the Jungerman Irrevocable Trust and the Jungerman Farm Corporation, respectively. The very next day, Jungerman sold his home and property to his daughter. Between October 12 and 13, Jungerman withdrew $3 million from two separate accounts.
As these transactions were happening, authorities say, Pickert’s client was taking action to secure the $5.75 million from the August 3 verdict. By October 15, a $5.75 million garnishment was filed against Jungerman, leading levies to be placed on his property over the coming days. The day before Pickert’s murder, Jungerman was served property liens by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
KCPD officers found Pickert just after 8 a.m. on October 25, deceased from a gunshot wound to his right temple. Police later determined that Pickert had just dropped his children off at school, and was finishing a cell phone call in front of his house when the fatal shooting occurred.
One witness, who had encountered a suspicious white van during a walk on the morning of the crime, told authorities that he had seen a white man over the age of 60 with thinning grey hair standing next to the vehicle. When presented with a lineup that included Jungerman, however, the witness was unable to make a positive identification.
A second witness was Pickert’s wife, who was inside of the family home when the homicide occurred. After hearing a loud bang, she called out the window and asked if her husband knew what the sound was. He replied in the negative, before she heard a second loud pop. When she looked backed out the window, she spotted a white cargo van parked directly across the street, with the driver side window rolled all the way down. She saw the man who was driving the vehicle pull a mask over his face and peel away.
A third witness was the man who was speaking with Pickert at the time of the attack. That witness relayed a similar story about the events leading up to the homicide, telling authorities that he heard a “whoosh” sound while the two were speaking. When the witness asked if Pickert was okay shortly thereafter, the line remained silent until the sound of a woman screaming could be heard.
After Pickert’s murder, Jungerman volunteered to give a statement at Police Headquarters. He smiled while explaining the incident that led to the $5.75 million verdict.
“Guys were down there stealing copper and I nailed ‘em,” he said. “Everything was fine, then two years later I get sued.”
A search warrant was also signed on the day of the murder, and Jungerman’s white van was located behind the home of a long-time employee. Because of unique distinguishing features on the truck – an after-market bug shield, a diamond-shaped puncture, torn red tape on the driver side brake light, and more – detectives were able to determine through surveillance footage that Jungerman’s van was driven from Raytown, Missouri to Pickert’s neighborhood just an hour before the fatal shooting. On the trip back to Raytown, authorities were able to determine that the driver matched Jungerman’s general appearance.
Jungerman claimed that he had been home at the time of the homicide, and told authorities that he learned about the shooting at about 10 a.m. on October 25, through his attorney. At 10:05 a.m. on that very day, however, detectives determined that Jungerman’s ex-wife called a bank from Jungerman’s office to inquire about a deposit. When the bank asked to speak to the account holder, she handed the phone to a man who identified himself as David Jungerman. Authorities determined that Jungerman’s home and office are 9.3 miles and a 17-minute drive) apart.
Circumstantial evidence from former employees suggested that Jungerman had a violent streak, and on-the-record incidents confirm the witness testimony. Jungerman shot another alleged trespasser in September of 2012, leading that individual to file a lawsuit, as well. What’s more, Jungerman was charged just last month with four counts related to a March 8 incident at a recycling center in which he fired shots at an alleged thief. Prosecutors requested a $1 million bond at the time.
During a search of Jungerman’s white Toyota Sequoia following the March 8 incident, authorities found a live .17 caliber bullet underneath the front passenger seat; the KCPD Crime Lab had previously determined that Pickert had been killed by a .17 caliber bullet, which the charging documents noted is a “relatively rare caliber.”
Furthermore, a new witness emerged in March 2018 who said that Jungerman had admitted shooting a lawyer and getting away with it. According to the new witness, Jungerman said that he shot the lawyer because he had stolen Jungerman’s money.
Search warrants were issued for Jungerman’s home and business on March 9. Along with financial records detailing Jungerman’s extensive wealth, authorities found an Olympus audio recorder from the master bathroom. When detectives reviewed the contents, they heard audio of Jungerman seeming to admit to the crime.
“Hey, you know, uh, people…people uh know that I murdered that son of a bitch,” Jungerman said on the audio tape.
Prosecutor’s have requested that Jungerman continue to be held with no bond.