SHAWNEE, Kan. — A former Johnson County Social worker is being honored 18 years after she lost her life trying to help a client.

Teri Zenner, 26, was a social worked for Johnson County Mental Health when she was killed in 2004.

“Teri was a compassionate person who dedicated her life to serving others and improving the quality of life of others, and that Teri made sacrifices to do that, including the ultimate sacrifice of her life,” Becky Fast, Johnson County Commissioner, said.

Johnson County Mental Health rededicated its garden as the Teri Zenner Memorial Garden Friday afternoon.

“Her legacy, no question, lives on within this organization, our mental health community. Her commitment to serving others is a daily part of the commitment that our employees make,” Ed Eilert, Johnson County County Commissioner, said.

The garden is a peaceful place with a water feature and will be colorful through the changing seasons, according to workers who designed it.

The office presented a plaque to Zenner’s former husband, Matt, who traveled from Texas for the dedication.

“Teri is a part of our organization. Looking back on her life and legacy can help us to continue to move forward. Her spirit lives on and continues to inspire each of us,” Tim DeWeese, Johnson County Mental Health Director, said.

Zenner was killed in 2004, during a home visit. She went to the Overland Park home of Andrew Elmaker to check and see if he was taking his medication.

Instead Elmaker attacked Zenner, killing her, and injured his mother as she tried to protect Zenner.

Elmaker was convicted of first-degree murder in Zenner’s death and sentenced to at least 50 years in prison with no chance for parole.

After Zenner’s murder her husband Matt worked with local leaders to get funding to train Johnson County mental health workers on safety. The training was expanded to social workers across the state of Kansas in 2010.

“Today every licensed social worker in Kansas must complete social work safety training due to this legislation,” Fast said.

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