Ex-Husband Charged With Attempted Homicide
By Tom Kertscher, Megan Twohey And John Dietrich, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Racine, Wisc. -- A Wind Lake woman who authorities say was abducted
by her ex-husband would have died in a sealed garbage can in Illinois
had it not been for a sheriff's investigator rifling through the
man's wallet the day after his arrest, according to a criminal
complaint filed Monday.
The Racine County, Wisc. investigator found phone numbers and made
calls that led to Sunday's dramatic rescue nearly 24 hours after she
had been locked up in an unheated storage facility and to charges of
attempted first-degree intentional homicide being filed Monday in
Racine against David M. Larsen.
Larsen also was charged with kidnapping in Racine County Circuit
Court and in federal court in Milwaukee, in what would be a rare
parallel prosecution that carries potential penalties of up to life
in prison, authorities said.
Teri Sue Jendusa-Nicolai, having survived a beating with a baseball
bat and a lengthy exposure to the cold, was in serious but stable
condition Monday at a suburban Chicago hospital, family spokesman
Josh Kuehn said.
"She is happy to be alive," he said.
Physician Daniel Resnick said Jendusa-Nicolai's body temperature was
slightly above 80 degrees when she was brought to Advocate Lutheran
General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
"If she would have been elderly or young and not a young, healthy
woman, as she is, she probably would not have survived," Resnick said.
Court records show that Jendusa-Nicolai had accused Larsen of
domestic violence numerous times before and after their marriage
ended two years ago.
A bleeding Jendusa-Nicolai had defended Larsen against charges of
domestic violence shortly after their marriage in 1996, telling a
police officer her pet rabbit had scratched her. But eventually she
began making domestic violence allegations against him, with
restraining orders being issued as recently as two weeks ago.
A somewhat clearer and dramatic timeline emerged Monday from the
criminal complaints and interviews:
The weekend incident began when Larsen, 39, and Jendusa-Nicolai, 38,
met at Larsen's home Saturday so that Jendusa-Nicolai could pick up
their two daughters, Holly Ann, 4, and Amanda, 6.
About 11 a.m. Saturday, a woman called 911 from Larsen's house on
Oakridge Drive, saying she was having trouble breathing and needed
help. But no one was inside when Racine County sheriff's deputies
broke in the door about 15 minutes later.
About 1 p.m., the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department received a
911 call from Jendusa-Nicolai, who said she was restrained with tape
in Larsen's pickup truck and that Larsen was going to kill her.
Alerted to the second 911 call, Racine County sheriff's deputies
returned to Larsen's home. They found blood throughout the house and
a pair of women's sweat pants in a trash can that had duct tape on
them, as well as a piece of duct tape that had teeth marks on it.
Larsen had been seen towing Jendusa-Nicolai's car behind his pickup,
according to a neighbor, and authorities later recovered the car in
Milwaukee near one of Larsen's rental properties.
About five hours after the second 911 call, shortly before 6 p.m.
Saturday, Larsen was arrested at Palwaukee Municipal Airport in
Wheeling, Ill., where he works as an air traffic controller. He told
police his daughters were nearby with a baby sitter, where they were
Larsen admitted striking Jendusa-Nicolai with a baseball bat, the
complaints say. But he said he was defending himself after she
appeared suddenly in his home, with her pants around her ankles,
standing over him with a hammer, according to a complaint.
Larsen also said he remembered grabbing duct tape but didn't know why
and said he couldn't remember her whereabouts.
When she was found, Jendusa-Nicolai told authorities that Larsen had
struck her numerous times with a bat after luring her inside his home
by saying their daughters were playing a game and wanted her to come
in, a complaint says.
Larsen's wallet and other items were seized after his arrest Saturday
evening. About noon Sunday, Racine County sheriff's investigator Dan
Fleming found phone numbers in the wallet and called a self-storage
facility in Wheeling, said sheriff's Capt. William Greer.
An employee at the facility told Fleming that Larsen had been at the
facility about 3:40 p.m. Saturday. Fleming asked the employee to
check Larsen's unit, which was unheated, and the employee heard
voices come from it.
Wheeling police were called, and they found Jendusa-Nicolai inside a
plastic garbage can that had been sealed with duct tape and covered
On Monday, Larsen appeared in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee.
Magistrate Aaron Goodstein ordered him held for three days while
federal prosecutors decide whether to file additional charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mario Gonzales said Larsen could be
imprisoned for life if convicted on the federal kidnapping charge.
The state court charges filed in Racine, including the attempted
homicide count, carry a potential prison sentence of 135 years.
Court records show the couple had numerous conflicts.
In November 1996, seven months after their wedding, Town of Norway
police arrested Larsen at the couple's home after a neighbor called
fearing that Larsen was beating his then-wife. An officer found
Jendusa-Nicolai crying and bleeding from her nose, but she said
Larsen had not hit her and that she had only been scratched while
nuzzling with their pet rabbit.
Over the next several years, however, Jendusa-Nicolai obtained
several temporary restraining orders and a two-year injunction
limiting the contact Larsen could make with her. She said in court
papers that he had beaten her and threatened her before and after
their divorce in 2001.
Larsen and Jendusa-Nicolai live about a mile apart in Wind Lake in
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The The Associated Press contributed to this report.