A former Wisconsin sheriff's deputy has been arrested and accused of burglarizing the homes of grieving families while they attended the funerals of their loved ones.
What are the details?
Former Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Janelle Gericke, 29, allegedly scoured local obituaries and targeted surviving family members of the deceased as her victims. According to NBC News, authorities believe Gericke "carried out her scheme from February 2018 through June 2019" while she was employed as a corrections officer.
Gericke was fired by the department in July.
The Kansas City Star reported that the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation into Gericke after finding evidence that she broke into a home. Eventually, the department turned their probe over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
According to the Wisconsin DOJ's criminal complaint, Gericke attempted to break in to at least six homes during the time she worked as a deputy, and, at times, was successful.
One of her alleged targets was the home of a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. In another instance, she's accused of stealing the checkbook of an 82-year-old man while he was attending his girlfriend's funeral.
Once investigators figured out what Gericke was doing, they "set up surveillance at homes of relatives who would be attending a funeral that had been in a published obituary," the complaint states. The accused showed up at two of the homes, and she attempted to enter both.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Gerick faces one felony count of burglary "for a February incident in which a family returned home from a funeral and found Gericke in their kitchen."
If convicted, she could spend more than 12 years in prison and pay a maximum fine of $25,000.
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