JEFFERSON COUNTY, WISCONSIN – A Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy is accused of forcing her way into and burglarizing the houses of individuals whom she understood would be at funeral services after she searched through obituaries from the area.
Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Janelle Gericke apparently acted out her plan from February 2018 through June 2019, according to a criminal complaint by the Wisconsin Department of Justice that was filed on Tuesday, according to NBC News.
“In most instances, this occurred while the homeowners were attending the funeral of a family member. In such instances, the deceased person’s online obituary listed the homeowners as surviving relatives along with the date and time of funeral services,” the complaint reads.
29 year old Gericke was fired from the sheriff’s’s department this past July, and she’s being accused of stealing a checkbook from a house while an 82-year-old male and his family were attending his girlfriend’s funeral service, NBC15 reported.
She would typically make up a story about needing to find an address to complete a Facebook Marketplace deal whenever Gericke was caught.
One time, a sheriff’s deputy asked her why she was at a recently- deceased person’s home while his funeral was happening, she said she went there to purchase a swing for a baby from Facebook Marketplace, but mixed up the address The deputy got in touch with the owner of that house and Gericke stated she had actually wanted to go to, but that person said they weren’t selling a baby swing.
In a different case, she said to a family who got back from a funeral service that she was there to clean their house.
Her fellow deputies started to notice Gericke, her car and pet dog from victims’ surveillance video footage, according to the criminal complaint and NBC15.
Another colleague who is a special agent, had sent out an email to coworkers to state she would be out of the state for a couple days. While monitoring her home through surveillance video using her smartphone, the special agent noticed a lady in her backyard, who appeared to be looking for a spare key. The female was determined to be Gericke, who was pregnant with a baby at the time.
In June, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department sent out deputies to keep an eye on the houses of the relative of a recently deceased individual whose obituary had been published.
Gericke showed up to two of the relatives’ houses, with her child in tow, the complaint reveals. She went into one, and left her baby in the vehicle.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office turned over the investigation of Gericke to the Wisconsin Department of Justice to remain neutral, according to statement made by the department.
“Milbrath wants to reassure the public that the values, integrity and standards that the Sheriff’s Office has always represented will continue to be upheld and are as essential to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office today as they have always been,” the statement reads. “The Sheriff’s Office refuses to let events like this define itself and call into question the goodness of the people who work so hard every day to serve this community with honor and pride.”
If Gericke is convicted, she faces up to a 12 and a half years prison sentence and fines up to $25,000.