Hearne: Tap Dancing @ 18th & Grand


“Never miss a local story. Subscribe now.”

That’s how the subscription come on reads at the end of a story this morning about a “slain KC lawyer” on the Kansas City Star website. A story with basically zero information about Tom Pickert‘s killing or a trigger happy older gent named David Jungerman who some suspect may have had something to do with Pickert’s offing.

Because for most of the past two weeks since that fatal morning last month when somebody breezed by the Pickert family home in Brookside and blew him away on his front porch, the local newspaper of record has been pretty much missing in action.

So locals have had to turn to – of all things – their televisions to learn interesting details about the case. Things like the recent Fox 4 News piece about a dude named Justin Baker who broke into Jungerman’s abandoned building five years back and found himself on the receiving end of a load of buckshot courtesy of the baby furniture maker.

“I don’t have vengeful feelings towards the guy or anything but to do what he did is just excessive, you know,” Baker told Fox 4.

“Baker says he was in the warehouse standing on a shelf that his uncle was holding steady, when he saw Jungerman walk through the door with a shotgun.

“With his hands up, Baker describes the moment he saw Jungerman, ‘I can see him like this, but I am not wanting to move because I don’t want to spook him. But, I can see out of my peripheral, as he comes up, he raises his shotgun up and that is the last I saw.’

“The first blast hit Baker’s uncle, and the second one took Baker down.”

Tom Pickert

Then there was a KCTV 5 News story by reporter Emily Rittman about Jungerman being caught on video and busted for keying a Lexus SUV outside a Raytown Walmart.

“According to civil and criminal  cases filed against Jungerman he has a history of violent and vindictive behavior,” Rittman reports. “He is accused of shooting four different men he found on his property. The landlord is also facing charges after he was accused of kicking in a tenant’s front door and threatening him while holding on to a loaded gun.

“Investigators say this, the video shows Jungerman entering a Raytown Walmart after keying a stranger’s car. The video shows a man looking around before walking around the victim’s Lexus while dragging his arm along the SUV. Jungerman was issued a citation for property damage for keying the back and side of the vehicle…When asked why he did it, Jungerman reportedly told police the victim took the last handicap parking space and he didn’t approve of how she parked her vehicle.”

And you read on KC Confidential how Jungerman sued Costco (and lost) over a set of bad tires and how he passed up the chance to settle the lawsuit against him by the homeless dude who lost a leg to Jungerman’s AK47 for a fraction of the $5.75 million Pickert and a jury saddled  him with in July.

The $64 million question:

Where has the Kansas City Star been hiding?

Yesterday readers got the answer to that question in a puff piece titled, “Van owner not a suspect in Brookside death. But people ‘look at me like I’m a murderer’”

In the story, KC Police danced around the topic of why Jungerman had not been charged, by telling the newspaper he was not a suspect “at this time.”

Needless to say, the Star had some dancing of its own to do.

In trying to downplay why the newspaper had not been covering the story for nearly two weeks, it wrote: “The Star has not named Jungerman until now with his consent after he spoke to a Star reporter more than a dozen times in the past 10 days.”

Hold it right there…

So the Star has been kissing up to this dude for nearly two weeks and gaining his confidence by not naming him until he gave his permission?

Pretty wimpy.

Ah, but not without a somewhat obvious, possible motive.

More than a dozen conversations followed by a kiss up story that all but exonerates Jungerman in the face of a wall of circumstantial evidence can only lead in one direction…

That the newspaper having gained Jungerman’s confidence is compiling a collection of whacky, off-the-wall quotes that it hopes to trot out somewhere down the road when and if charges are filed.

Unfortunately, in the meantime readers of the Star have been forced to either go without or subject themselves to watching local TV news or conducting internet searches for updates on the case.

The bottom line:

Telling readers you’ve been talking up a storm to murder suspects but not writing anything because they haven’t given you their permission yet is – how do you say? – lame.

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3 Responses to Hearne: Tap Dancing @ 18th & Grand

  1. One Guy says:

    This story is bizarre and has me scratching my head. Police don’t believe it was a random shooting. But a personal injury attorney could have compiled plenty of enemies. It appears The Star was correct not to join a rush to judgement.

  2. Rainbow Man says:

    -Maybe someone did not want to share Pickert’s commission on the settlement. On his firm website… The Jungerman verdict is listed right at the top of their case victory list, and it is exponentially larger than any of their other victories. Maybe the firm is struggling.

    -Maybe there is a pissed off husband somewhere. Most every guy who dies is referred to as a great husband and father. The obituary never says he was banging his paralegal.

    -Maybe it was random. Maybe a guy followed him onto his porch.

    It sounds like Jungerman’s van was never there. This is a total Dateline NBC situation… if they find the real killer. So if it was not Jungerman… It probably had to be one of the above scenarios….

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