KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tom Pickert’s wife Emily is a palliative care doctor with the University of Kansas Health System. Right now, she and her children are getting a lot of support from her work family there as they process this terrible tragedy.
Dr. Emily Riegel reached out to her colleagues at the hospital for support. She told them the images of the aftermath of her husband’s murder are deeply painful. Her children still feel scared to go outside. Riegel practices palliative and end of life care, and now she’s asking her work family for the very help she’s used to giving.
“She said, I understand. I want to tell Tom’s story. I want everyone to know the kind of person that he was and what he means to our family, but she said I just don’t have the capacity to do it now. I told her I’d give you that message and ask respectfully if you could give the family space. They promise they’ll answer every question that you have. They just can’t do it today,” said Jill Chadwick, Dr. Emily Riegel’s spokesperson with the University of Kansas Health System.
We also spoke with a friend and colleague of Tom Pickert, who says it is clear Tom was well-loved across Kansas City.
Pickert was a partner in his law firm. Dan Cranshaw went to law school with him at KU. He says Pickert was always smiling and brought energy and enthusiasm to everything he did.
Cranshaw and Pickert also served together in the Centurions program, which is a two-year leadership academy through the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He says Tom was passionate about his work on a police task force and knew it was important for everyone to be involved in keeping our community safe. So he is stunned that his friend was lost in such a senseless, violent way.
“It is shocking. It’s very sad and it’s a tremendous loss. I think it’s a reminder for all of us that we need to be thinking about the quality of the lives that we live, what we can do to make our communities better and safer and to think more broadly about the kind of crime that’s impacting the community right now all over the place,” said Cranshaw.
Pickert’s family is still planning funeral services and the best way to honor his life and memory moving forward.
As for the investigation, police say they’ve now talked with the owner of that white van they’d been searching for in connection to Pickert’s murder. The van is registered to David Jungerman. Pickert just won a lawsuit for a client in which Jungerman was ordered to pay out more than $5 million.
And on Tuesday, Jungerman was served papers saying the courts were coming after his wages and properties he owned in Raytown and Kansas City. Tom Pickert was killed the next day.
Kansas City Police haven’t officially named Jungerman as a suspect, but say the van’s owner is not facing charges and the investigation into Pickert’s murder continues, with all leads being reviewed.