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Wisconsin Deputy Accused Of Scouring Obituaries So She Could Break Into Homes Of Funeral Attendees

Wisconsin Deputy Accused Of Scouring Obituaries So She Could Break Into Homes Of Funeral Attendees
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Though it's the holiday season, crime isn't going to slow down. Instead, it seems to surge and bring out some people's worst colors.

A criminal complaint was filed on Tuesday against a Deputy Sheriff for trespassing in the homes of people who were attending their family members' funerals.

Janelle Gericke, a Deputy Sheriff from Jefferson County in Wisconsin allegedly scoured online obituaries from February 2018 to July 2019, looking for opportunities to rob people of their possessions while they were attending their family member's funeral.

A formal criminal complaint was filed on Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Gericke's process was detailed in the complaint:

"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."

Gericke was fired from her position at Jefferson County back in July, after it was discovered that she had stolen a checkbook from an 82-year-old man, while he and his family were attending his girlfriend's funeral.

Though it took over a year for Gericke to be officially caught and fired, there were several instances of suspicion that were later included as evidence in the filed complaint.

In one instance, a fellow deputy caught Gericke at the home of a recently-deceased man.

When asked why she was there, she explained that she had arranged to purchase a baby swing off of Facebook Marketplace and had simply mixed up the address. She gave the deputy the actual address, but when her fellow deputy asked the homeowner at the "correct" address about the situation, they reported that they did not have a baby swing for sale.

A special agent in Gericke's department also shared with the team that they would be out of their home for two days. She later reviewed the surveillance footage on her home and saw a pregnant woman wandering around her yard, more than likely looking for a key to enter.

The woman was later identified as Gericke, who was also pregnant at the time.

In another situation, she told a family who returned from a funeral that she was there to clean the home.

In June 2019, when suspicions were high, the Jefferson County Police Department sent several deputies out to several homes of families who would be attending funerals, according to obituaries that had appeared online. Gericke appeared at two of the monitored homes, bringing her baby with her. She managed to enter one of the two homes, and left her baby in the car while she scoured the home.

With this new evidence, the Jefferson County Police Department handed the case over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice to avoid potential bias.

After reviewing all of the information gathered since last July, the Wisconsin Department of Justice formerly filed their complaint against former-Deputy Sheriff Gericke. If Gericke is convicted, she could face up to twelve and a half years in prison and up to 25-thousand dollars in fines.

Sheriff Paul Milbrath also came forward with a public apology for any stress or ill-will Gericke may have caused since February 2018, stating that her conduct was in no way a reflection on the Department's code of conduct or beliefs.

The statement read:

"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 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."

Onlookers have shared their mutual disgust for Gericke's behavior, some also voicing their concerns for the current conditions and moral quality of police departments everywhere.

This behavior is beyond low, especially coming from someone who is sworn to serve and protect.

To imagine that anyone would take advantage of a time when people are so vulnerable is pretty despicable.