Menke receives twenty to life in murder case
Saturday, May 17, 2014 12:30 AM
VAN WERT — The woman who shot and killed her mother, shot her father, and remained on the run from authorities overnight before being captured near a barn at her residence north of Middlebury was sentenced Friday morning in Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas. Tamara K. Menke, 48, pleaded guilty May 2 to murder in the shooting death of her mother, Barbara Robinson, and to felonious assault in the shooting of her father. Judge Charles D. Steele sentenced Menke to 15 years to life on the murder count, another three years for the felonious assault and one year each for the use of a firearm in the two shootings. He also ordered all the prison time to be serve consecutively, meaning Menke must serve at least 20 years in prison up to a maximum of life.
Tamara K. Menke is led into the Van Wert County Common Pleas courtroom Friday morning. Menke was given prison sentences totaling 20 year to life in the murder of her mother and shooting of her father last November. (Times Bulletin/Ed Gebert)
At Friday’s hearing, Menke’s attorney, Scott Gordon, called Chuck Eberle to testify on Menke’s behalf. Eberle, a friend and formerly Menke’s pastor, told the court Menke had been rejected and unloved by her mother.
“This is a tragedy that has happened here, and God forbid it should ever happen to anyone else, but through Tammy’s entire life, she had been pushed away. She has been denied the loving care of her family that cared for her and loved her. She was left with her grandmother until she was 10-years-old,” Eberle stated. “She has just been pushed away and denied every bit of love that a family should offer their own child… I think Tammy has been punished for 48 years of her life. I think her life has been one of tragedy, of one emotional explosion after another. She needs help, not punishment.”
Assistant County Prosecutor Martin Burchfield reminded the court, “Barbara Robinson lost her life. There’s also a second victim here who was shot and had to fight for his life. He deserves justice also.”
A statement from Menke’s father was read during the hearing. “That day, I not only lost my wife, I lost my daughter and my stepson… She was full of life, and always trying to doing the right thing and was always trying to get me to take better care of myself as well.” The statement continued, “The emotions I feel right now, I am having a hard time putting into words because what was taken away from me that day took away more than words can ever express.”
Menke was mostly quiet during the sentencing hearing, offering only, “I’m sorry, your Honor,” when given the opportunity to make a statement.
Menke pleaded guilty to the Nov. 13, 2013, shootings earlier this month. According to information expressed in the case, she shot her mother in the chest and her father in the thigh around 6 p.m. before fleeing their S. Fulton St. home with an empty .22 caliber rifle.
Menke remained hidden from law enforcement overnight while residents of the western half of Van Wert County were on high alert as the warning that Menke was armed and dangerous was circulated. When law enforcement resumed the search for her the next morning, Menke was spotted near one of the buildings on her property on Brittsan Rd. She was taken into custody and jailed.
Robinson died of her injuries while being transported to a Fort Wayne hospital.