Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer sent a message Monday to the killer or killers responsible for one — and maybe two — double slayings that have left the city and Creighton University on edge.
“I would not want this task force coming after me,” Schmaderer said.
Omaha police, the FBI, Nebraska State Patrol and the Douglas County Attorney's Office have joined forces to investigate possible ties between the deaths of Dr. Roger Brumback and Mary Brumback, both 65, and the March 2008 fatal stabbings of 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman, 57, inside the Dundee home of Drs. William and Claire Hunter.
Roger Brumback was a friend and colleague of the Hunters at the Creighton University School of Medicine. Thomas was their son; Sherman was the family's house cleaner.
Schmaderer announced the formation of the task force, whose sole assignment is to solve the four homicides, during a press conference Monday.
The task force is made up of more than a dozen homicide detectives, including several from the Police Department's cold-case unit, which has been working on the Dundee slayings. Deputy Chief Mary Newman is overseeing the group. She has been with the department for 24 years and will relinquish some of her regular duties to focus on the task force's work.
Newman has “intimate knowledge” of both double homicides, the chief said. Assisting her will be Capt. Kerry Neumann, a 17-year-veteran who currently heads the department's criminal investigation bureau.
Several FBI agents also are on the task force. The State Patrol and County Attorney's Office will be at the group's disposal if needed.
Schmaderer told The World-Herald that investigators have made a request through the Omaha FBI office for assistance from the FBI's national behavioral analysis unit.
In the summer of 2008, after months of investigation had failed to solve the Dundee killings, police turned to the FBI for assistance, including a request that the behavioral analysis unit develop a criminal profile of the killer.
The World-Herald has previously reported, based on sources' accounts, that the FBI's behavioral profilers at that time concluded that the Dundee slayings appeared to be random homicides, possibly committed by a transient serial killer.
If there is indeed a connection between the Dundee slayings and the deaths of the Brumbacks, it would appear that that profile no longer would be applicable.
At the time of the Dundee slayings, Roger Brumback was William Hunter's boss in the pathology department. Claire Hunter is in the cardiology department.
Also Monday, Creighton University issued a statement on behalf of the Brumback family thanking the public for the “overwhelming support and concern our family has received.”
“There are no words to properly describe our grief,” the statement said. “Our family has lost a devoted mother and beloved father. They were so loved and they will be forever missed.”
The Brumbacks' bodies were discovered by a piano mover last week inside the couple's home at 11421 Shirley St.
Schmaderer on Monday declined to say how and when they were killed, citing the ongoing investigation.
He said no details will be released unless police deem it advantageous to the investigation.
Police have said they've received several tips on the slayings.
Anyone with information on either homicide case is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 444-STOP (7867), or log on to omahacrimestoppers.net, or text OPD and your tip to CRIMES (274637) or through the mobile iPhone/Android app “Tip Submit.” Tipsters always remain anonymous.
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Timeline of slayings
March 13, 2008: The bodies of 11-year-old Thomas C. Hunter and family housekeeper Shirlee Sherman, 57, are found at 303 N. 54th St.
March 14, 2008: Police release sketch of man being sought for questioning in the slayings.
March 16, 2008: Dr. Roger Brumback, family friend, tells The World-Herald that the Creighton University medical community is stunned by the slayings. “The biggest interest we have, and what everybody was asking yesterday, is, 'Who could have done this and why?'”
March 19, 2008: Funerals are held for Shirlee Sherman at Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park and for Thomas Hunter at St. John Catholic Church.
March 20, 2008: Omaha Crime Stoppers offers $25,000 reward tip leading to an arrest.
Early April: FBI joins the Omaha homicide investigation.
Jan. 21, 2009: “Law & Order” episode features crime drama sharply reminiscent of the Omaha case. Two university biologists come home to find their young son and housekeeper killed. Witnesses describe a mysterious, well-dressed man carrying a briefcase.
February 2009: Omaha Crime Stoppers reward doubles to $50,000.
June 11, 2010: Bronze sculpture of Thomas Hunter is dedicated outside Creighton Cardiac Center.
July 2012: Omaha Crime Stoppers reward increases to $54,000.
Aug. 3, 2012: “America's Most Wanted” airs segment about the unsolved Omaha case.
May 14, 2013: The bodies of Dr. Roger Brumback and Mary Brumback, both 65, are discovered in their home at 11421 Shirley St.
May 16, 2013: Omaha Police Department's cold-case unit is investigating any connection between the Brumbacks' deaths and the 2008 slayings of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman.
May 16, 2013: Members of First Responders Homicide Prayer-Walks hold an evening prayer vigil outside the Brumback home.
May 20, 2013: Police Chief Todd Schmaderer holds press conference announcing that a multiagency task force has begun looking into possible ties between the Brumbacks' deaths and the 2008 killings of Thomas Hunter and Shirlee Sherman.