Guns, ammo among items found in suspect’s home – Kearney Hub: Regional News

3 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Guns, ammo among items found in suspect’s home – Kearney Hub: Regional News
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Murder suspect will appear in court in January

KEARNEY — Michael L. Petersen is being held without bond on Buffalo County charges accusing him of gunning down his ex-wife southwest of Kearney.

Petersen, 58, appeared in Buffalo County Court early Tuesday afternoon for a bond hearing before Judge Graten Beavers. The Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, also known as the state public defender’s office, has been appointed to represent him.

Petersen is charged with first-degree murder and use of a weapon, a rifle, to commit a felony in the Nov. 13 death of his ex-wife Nancy Petersen, 58, of Kearney.

Petersen also faces charges in Hall County for allegedly killing his former lawyer, Grand Island attorney Todd Elsbernd, outside Elsbernd’s office Nov. 13.

Petersen is scheduled to appear in court in Buffalo and Hall counties in January for a preliminary hearing. Judges will determine if there is enough evidence in the cases for Petersen to face trial in district court.

Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:15 pm | Updated: 12:28 pm, Wed Nov 27, 2013.

Guns, ammo among items found in suspect’s home By Sarah Schulz Grand Island Independent Kearney Hub

Numerous guns, ammunition, two vehicles, clothing and personal papers were found during a search of the home belonging to a man charged with killing his ex-wife and a Grand Island attorney.

Michael Petersen, 58, has been charged in Hall County with first-degree murder and using a rifle to commit a felony for the Nov. 13 shooting death of Todd Elsbernd in downtown Grand Island. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Petersen is also charged in Buffalo County with first-degree murder and using a rifle to commit a felony for the Nov. 13 shooting death of his ex-wife, Nancy Petersen. If convicted in that case, he could face life in prison.

His preliminary hearings are scheduled for Jan. 21.

He was arrested on the evening of Nov. 14 in a 1988 Isuzu Trooper just east of Hastings. He’s being held without bail.

After his arrest, Petersen “admitted to shooting both victims one time with a bolt-action. 308-caliber Remington hunting rifle,” according to two search warrant affidavits filed in Hall County District Court.

He also told investigators he drove a Datsun pickup to Nancy Petersen’s home on the morning of Nov. 13 and shot her one time. He returned to his home, switched vehicles and drove to Grand Island in a 1981 Honda Accord. He parked in a lot northeast of Elsbernd’s office and waited for him to leave. He then shot him once with the same rifle he used to shoot Nancy Petersen, according to the affidavits.

He told investigators he didn’t remember firing a second shot. After the second shooting, he returned home.

Petersen “claimed to have discarded the rifle but admitted he has other firearms which he locked in a large safe.” He also told police he wore a white T-shirt, a flannel shirt, blue jeans and boots when he shot Elsbernd, according to the search warrant affidavits.

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According to the search warrant affidavits, Elsbernd was shot at 6:31 p.m. while standing next to his 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche on the west side of North Locust Street. He was struck once in the back of his right shoulder. The bullet exited the front of his body near the right clavicle and broke the rear driver’s-side passenger door glass.

He was taken by ambulance to St. Francis Medical Center, where he died in the emergency room.

A second shot was fired at Elsbernd, but it missed and struck the lower edge of the rear passenger door of his vehicle. The second shot appeared to be fired from a low elevation, according to the search warrant affidavits.

Investigators received reports from witnesses who’d seen a vehicle parked at an odd angle in the parking lot approximately 178 feet from the victim’s location. The vehicle was described as light in color and “boxy.” Some of the witnesses also described a white man with a thin build that they saw in the driver’s seat. They also said the man appeared to be in his 40s or 50s and was wearing glasses, according to the search warrant affidavits.

On Nov. 14, Buffalo County sheriff’s deputies found Nancy Petersen, 58, dead outside her rural Buffalo County home. She had been shot once in the back with a high-caliber rifle fired from a distance, according to the affidavits.

Through the course of the investigation, police determined the Petersens divorced in 2005, and Elsbernd represented Michael Petersen during part of the divorce proceedings. Petersen had accused him of “professional negligence,” and Elsbernd was attempting to collect legal fees through a local collection agency, according to the affidavit.

Michael Petersen was linked to his ex-wife’s death through a 1972 Datsun pickup registered to him that had been seen near an outbuilding approximately 300 yards north of Nancy Petersen’s home. When deputies observed the vehicle just after 11 a.m. Nov.

13, there were rifle rounds lying in plain view inside, but no one was in the immediate area, according to the affidavits.

Grand Island police investigators conducted two searches of Petersen’s property, which is a large concrete building outside Glenvil. The building is on the former U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot land that is now part of an industrial park. The searches were done on Nov. 15 and Nov.


During the first search, investigators found the Honda Accord, the Datsun pickup and at least a dozen guns. They also found 13 boxes of rifle ammunition, more than 100 other bullets and shells, a cellphone, several flannel shirts, jeans, two pairs of boots, a Wells Fargo receipt for $17,500, gloves and a gun safe.

Also among the items found by police were a weather radio, an intruder detection device, various firearm parts, a spotting scope and stand accessories, cash, cases for guns, copies of more than 25 vehicle titles, personal papers, computer hardware and accessories, and a letter from the FBI responding to a letter from Petersen about being the victim of a scam, according to the search warrant affidavits.

During the second search, investigators seized two homemade shooting targets with holes in them and two Wells Fargo transaction receipts dated Nov. 14, according to the affidavit.

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