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Wife speaks out about the murder of her husband - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Wife speaks out about the murder of her husband, Jeffrey Slama of rural Joplin

Jeffrey Slama - photo from the Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council website Jeffrey Slama - photo from the Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council website

UPDATED DECEMBER 16, 2013:  The wife of a man who police say was murdered speaks for the first time about the her loss, and how she feels about no arrests being made since the crime took place.

It's been two months since Joplin resident Jeffrey Slama was killed in his rural home.

Slama, 58, was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when the deadly attack happened on October 16. The dispatcher heard Slama pleading for his life.

No one has been arrested in the case.

Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland says there is nothing new in the case right now but they are continuing to investigate.

On Monday we sat down with Slama's widow, Joanne.

She's a counselor at Neosho High School and still lives at the home where her husband was murdered. His ashes are now buried next to a tree on the Slama's property.

Joanne says she's been told very little evidence, including fingerprints from suspects, has been gathered from the scene.

"The person was not in my house very long, maybe a minute," says Joanne. "As far as I understand, they really didn't leave behind much evidence. I know the sheriff's department would appreciate any information, tips, leads, that people might have."

Joanne says she, along with their kids and three grand kids miss Jeffrey every day.

"It's not difficult living in the home. That home was filled with love. We were married for 31 years, so Jeff is in that home. All his things are there. His heart is there. So he's there in a lot of ways. I think it will be hard to leave that home, really."

Joanne says her husband was well liked in the Four State area and knows of no one who would want to kill her husband.

She is asking for anyone with information about the case to contact police so that others may not face similar hurt.

Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland confirmed to us that investigators do not have new leads in this case.

 

UPDATED October 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM: An autopsy conducted this morning confirmed Jeffrey Slama, 58, died from a gun wound that was fired from behind Slama.

Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland says authorities have received a lot of tips regarding the burglary-homicide that occurred at 2806 Insbrook Lane in Joplin, Missouri.

Sheriff Copeland says investigators are walking ditches searching for evidence or clues, and checking videos from homes in the area as well as convenient store videos.

Sheriff Copeland says they are also stepping up their patrols in rural areas.


UPDATED October 16, 2013 at 8:44 PM: The dispatcher who took the victim's 9-1-1 call is trained to handle high-stress situations. Although this call would have been unsettling for even the most skilled law officers. The dispatcher heard a bit of the conversation with the killer and the gunshot.
     
Emergency dispatchers train to be the calm in the midst of a terrible storm. Sometimes that calm can end in tragedy. That scenario played out as a dispatcher heard the final words from Jeffery Slama just before he was shot and killed. 

"He continued to you know beg him not to shoot him I heard what sounded like a gunshot then the line went dead," said Newton County Dispatcher Joseph Bowers.  

Bowers says the call came through around 8:42 a.m. 

"Initially when it came in it was just dead air and I waited for a few seconds to get a respond then I heard a male subject whispering," said Bowers.  

That whisper was coming from Jeffery Slama, telling Bowers an armed man was in his home. 

"It sounded at the time like he had said somebody had broken into his house and he was armed with a gun," said Bowers.  

Next the two came face-to-face. 

"He was sitting there basically begging for his life I think he said his wife possible when the subjected asked who was on the phone," said Bowers.    

First responders were dispatched and found 58 year-old Slama inside the homes front doorway. 

"Some calls they are harder than other and it's difficult to deal with these high stress calls." 

The Director of the Newton County Central Dispatch says this is not normal but high stress calls are not uncommon.

"If they are having a difficult time handling it then we want them to talk to someone professional," Newton County Central Dispatch Director Vickie Bayless. 

However dispatchers know these are the type of calls they may face. 

"Right they are trained they have an extensive amount of training on how to handle stressful calls and they handle them regularly," said Bayless. 

Bowers says, "I'm doing ok you know it's been pretty rough but you have to continue on." 


UPDATED October 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM: Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland says it appears the victim, 58-year-old Jeffrey Slama, was found just inside the home's front doorway.  

"It appears as though he came out of the bedroom, was probably shot in the hallway.  The victim still had the telephone in his hand," says Copeland.

Sheriff Copeland gathers from Slama's 911 call that the victim did not know the suspect.  Police believe a rock was used to break into Slama's glass front door.

Slama's wife was notified earlier this morning about her husband's death.

"Of course she's in shock right now," says Copeland.  "You can imagine leaving your spouse or loved one in the morning.  Going to work, like it would be any other day going to work.  And then you have the sheriff's department show up, a couple hours later, telling you a person has been killed."

Police believe this incident is an isolated attempted burglary.

"In all probability, this person didn't want to be identified.  That's why he killed the resident.  My guess, from 30 years of experience, I would say that he's long gone from that area and probably wouldn't return to that area," says Copeland.

The sheriff is asking anyone, especially those in rural and secluded areas, who've seen a little black car "prowling in the area" to contact the Newton County Sheriff's Office - (417) 623-6682.

Slama served as the deputy grand knight of Joplin Council No. 979 of the Knights of Columbus.

 

UPDATED October 16, 2013 at 12:45 PM: The news conference with Sheriff Ken Copeland is now available in its entirety...

WEB EXTRA Homicide news conference with Sheriff Ken Copeland

 

UPDATED October 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM:  At the news conference Sheriff Ken Copeland said Jeffrey Slama, 58, of 2806 Insbrook Lane in Joplin, called 911 and told dispatch somebody had broken into his home.  As units were dispatched the dispatcher could hear Slama plead with the suspect not to shoot him.  A few minutes later the dispatcher heard the gunshot.

Upon arriving at the residence, Sheriff Copeland says they found the front door open and Slama's body inside.

Sheriff Copeland says Slama died of an apparent gunshot wound but says an autopsy will be conducted in Springfield.

Officers spoke with some workman working on a roadway nearby and were told a little black car had left the area at a high rate of speed.

Sheriff Copeland says they've since learned of home invasions in Barry County where a white male driving a little black car was seen.

The sheriff says anyone, especially those in rural and secluded areas, who've seen anyone in a little black car "prowling in the area" and have more information to contact the Newton County Sheriff's Office -417-623-6682.

We will bring the latest details as they become available.

 

Posted October 16, 2013 at 11:53 AM:  The Newton County Sheriff confirms a man has been shot dead during a burglary this morning south of Joplin.

Investigators are at a rural home near Aspen Road investigating an apparent burglary-homicide.  It is also near Interstate 71 in Newton County.

Sheriff Ken Copeland tells us sometime this morning a 911 dispatcher received a call from a man inside this home. The dispatcher could hear someone yell "no, please don't shoot" then the line went dead.

When deputies arrived they found a man dead inside this home.  He appears to be in his 60's.

Several evidence markers are on the ground and investigators are still at the scene.

The body has been removed from the home.

That is all the information police are telling us here at the scene.  A news conference has been scheduled.

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