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OMAHA, NE – It’s a mystery unsolved. Four years after someone opened the door to an Omaha home; a killer walked in then stabbed a boy and his housekeeper. Detectives are pouring over computer information, trying to solve the case.
On Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 5:48 p.m. officers were called to 303 North 54th Street to investigate a homicide. Officers located a resident, 11 year old Thomas Hunter, and the housekeeper, Shirlee Sherman, inside the residence deceased. Both had been brutally stabbed to death.
It’s a murder mystery that shocked Dundee and still has Omaha police puzzled. Four years after someone brutally murdered 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and 57-year-old Shirlee Sherman. Investigators are looking at each lead with fresh eyes. One part of their investigation has them turning back to the Internet.
Dr. William Hunter found the bodies of his son and housekeeper on the evening of March 13.
“I drove up the driveway, I immediately knew something was different because Shirlee, our cleaning woman’s car was in the back driveway. Normally, we drive up into the back drive and back up in the garage and her car was there,” Hunter said.
Hunter went inside his house, hung up his coat and made the first of two inconceivable discoveries.
“I saw Shirlee. She was dead. I knew Tom should be home and I called for Tom,” Hunter said. “I ran down to see if he was down there. He wasn’t there because he’s typically on the video games down there and he wasn’t there. I ran around (in the rest of the house) and found Tom in the dining room.”
Tom’s body was in the dining room, his housekeeper’s was in the hallway.
“The first thing I did, I called 911 from the kitchen phone. I was talking to them and they told me to leave the house and sit on the front porch, which I did,” Hunter said.
Hunter, a pathology professor and the program director for Creighton University Medical Center’s department of pathology, said he dealt with the shock by putting on his clinical hat.
“In my initial assessment of the scene, there was nothing disrupted, there was no struggle and everything was in place. I started thinking, what was going on, what was happening,” Hunter said.
“My wife was in Hawaii. I was trying to figure out how to get in touch with her and my other kids. I had a lot of things racing through my mind at that time,” Hunter said.
The Hunters still have no answers. They still don’t know who killed their son and housekeeper.
“I don’t know of a motive. No one has been threatening us, we’ve received no crank calls, no one has been stalking us. Tom was never in any trouble; he had no problems at school,” Hunter said. “It’s ruined, in many ways, our lives. Its very tough. No matter where we are, it’s lonely without Tom. We miss his busyness and noise, all of a sudden it was quiet.”
Hunter said he hopes that by telling his story now, somebody will remember something and help investigators find the killer.
“Not knowing makes it even harder, it’s been very stressful, it’s ruined, in many ways, our lives,” he said. “Anything, any little something, would help.”
Detectives have learned that a suspicious male, dark or olive skin complexion, 5` 8″ – 5` “10, average to stocky build, with short to medium length dark hair, late 20`s to late 30`s was seen walking in the area prior to the reported homicide. This same person may have exited the SUV. That person was wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and was carrying a dark colored satchel or briefcase over his shoulder.
Omaha police released a sketch of a person of interest after neighbors reported seeing a man park his car near the home and then walk up to Hunter’s home that afternoon. Hunter said he doesn’t know who that man was and he doesn’t recognize the sketch.
“We’re not even sure who answered the door. We have two independent witnesses who saw that person walking up to our door,” Hunter said.
Lt. Ken Kanger says, “We know Thomas spent a lot of time on the computer, chat rooms, a lot of time gaming and that’s a little bit different because when kids game they can game live and they can have conversations with people they’re gaming with.”
Investigators are once again looking into who Thomas and Shirlee may have communicated with online. Lt. Ken Kanger says the net is cast wide, coast to coast, to find anyone in that cyber world who might know something. Kanger says, “We’re trying to narrow that down to the day that he came home from school and to the days prior and then we have to locate this individual, see if they or someone they associate with have anything in their background that would cause us to want to talk to them.”
Detectives have also gone back to the Hunter’s home to revisit old clues. Kanger says one of the toughest parts about the investigation is how much time has passed, but he won’t give up. He says, “Detectives and myself worked a lot on the case coming in weekends, in order for you to do that you have to be optimistic and you have to have a positive mindset and that’s how you solve them.”
With that mindset and new information, the killer might finally be brought to justice.
Investigators are once again interviewing people who knew or came in contact with both Shirlee and Thomas.
Witnesses reported a gray or silver Honda CR-V (or a similar SUV), with no front license plate, in the area around the time of the homicides.
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