Nikko Jenkins received two coming-home presents after his release from prison.
At a hotel-room party the night of his release, a cousin provided Jenkins with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, according to an investigator.
Three days later, his mother — Lori Jenkins — bought the ammunition that would be used in that gun.
Within three weeks of his release, authorities allege, Nikko Jenkins had killed four people — at least two of them with the 12-gauge shotgun ammo normally used for deer hunting.
Lori Jenkins' court-appointed attorney, Bill Eustice, confirmed Friday that it was Lori Jenkins who was photographed purchasing “deer slugs” at the Canfield's Sporting Goods store in Omaha.
That revelation provided another twist to the all-in-the-family saga that surrounds Nikko Jenkins' arrest in connection with four recent slayings: the Aug. 11 shooting deaths of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena in Spring Lake Park; the Aug. 19 shooting death of Curtis Bradford at 18th and Clark Streets; and the Aug. 21 shooting death of Andrea Kruger at 168th and Fort Streets.
And it cast a new light on Lori Jenkins' attempts to get her son mental health help.
Namely, one law enforcement official asked: Why would Lori Jenkins purchase ammunition if she truly was concerned that her son was suicidal or homicidal?
The short answer, from her lawyer: She didn't believe the ammunition would get into the hands of her son.
Eustice said Lori Jenkins repeatedly tried to get her son mental health treatment while he was in prison for suicide attempts and for what Nikko Jenkins himself described as “ongoing homicidal ideations.”
When Nikko Jenkins was released, Eustice said, Lori Jenkins had no knowledge that he had been given a shotgun, allegedly by cousin Anthony Wells. Detective Michael Dose testified that Wells, a convicted felon, handed over that shotgun the night of Jenkins' July 30 release during a coming-home party at the Travelodge, 72nd and Grover Streets.
Lori Jenkins also didn't have any knowledge of the murders, Eustice said. The attorney said she has been “very upfront” with authorities investigating the murder spree.
“She's mortified over her son's actions,” Eustice said. “She sincerely is.”
When the killing spree was initially being investigated, Omaha police released a store surveillance image, asking for the public's help in identifying a woman leaving Canfield's, 8457 West Center Road.
The woman had purchased two boxes of Brenneke Classic Magnum 12-gauge ammunition, commonly known to hunters as “deer slugs.” That ammo was believed to be used in the deaths of Bradford and at least one of the victims at Spring Lake Park.
A caller told detectives that the person in the photo was Christine Bordeaux, Nikko Jenkins' cousin. Subsequently, she was charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition.
However, authorities dropped that charge recently after learning that the person in the photo actually was Lori Jenkins.
At first, police didn't suspect Lori Jenkins as the ammo buyer in part because she had short hair by the time she had contact with law enforcement. The photo appears to show a woman with her hair drawn back into a long ponytail. However, authorities believe that Lori Jenkins got her hair cut after the purchase.
Lori Jenkins, who was convicted of felony shoplifting in 1997, has not been charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition.
She and her daughter Melonie Jenkins instead were ordered to stand trial Friday on charges that they tried to intimidate a woman who had brought charges against Nikko Jenkins for threatening her.
Those developments come as The World-Herald obtained a petition that the Jenkins family reportedly filed with Johnson County in February — seeking to have Nikko Jenkins civilly committed rather than released from Tecumseh State Prison.
Of the reasons listed in the Feb. 19 request, Lori Jenkins and a woman who identified herself as Nikko Jenkins' fiancee said, “Jenkins' mental needs are deteriorating daily in 23-hour confinement.”
“Nikko Jenkins self mutilated his right side of face ending in 29 stitches — summer of 2012,” the petition said. “Jenkins (then) self mutilated his right side of face ending in 11 stitches ... total of 40 stitches on face.”
The filing contends that Jenkins was put on suicide watch after the last mutilation in January. It also claimed that Jenkins suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The family request said that Nikko Jenkins was mentally ill and that “no mental therapy sessions are being provided by Tecumseh.”
They requested “emergency protection” and “emergency removal” so he could “receive proper mental health treatment.”
Deputy Johnson County Attorney Rick Smith said he could not comment on any requests because of state confidentiality laws over mental health commitments.
In general, Smith said, the county attorney takes any commitment requests seriously.
After receiving a help request from a patient's family, Smith said, the Johnson County Attorney's Office checks with mental health providers to see if patients are mentally ill and dangerous, as required under state law.
“We don't take the requests lightly, whatever the source is,” Smith said. “We see that we get the opinion of a therapist before we decide whether we can proceed under the statutes.”
While Smith couldn't comment on Jenkins' case, other authorities have been leery of Jenkins' claims that he was insane — suggesting that he made such claims to try to get out of trouble in a prison guard assault and to get out of solitary confinement at Tecumseh.
A Lincoln Regional Center doctor who evaluated Jenkins said he believed that Jenkins was, at worst, anti-social. “I think the possibility of a psychotic illness is present but I do not think it is a very good possibility,” the doctor concluded.
Jenkins' family disagreed. In addition to the mutilations, they noted “several suicide attempts.”
The petition concluded with this note: “Release date is July 30, 2013, and needs medical treatment.”
Jenkins indeed was released on that date to his family in Omaha.
Three days later, his mother walked out of the Canfield's store, carrying two boxes of ammunition.
Nine days after that, authorities allege, Jenkins committed the first of four killings.
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Legal proceedings against Nikko Jenkins' family members
One of Nikko Jenkins' cousins is expected to be charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery in connection with a killing spree in August.
The allegations against Christine Bordeaux are related to the Aug. 21 death of Andrea Kruger near 168th and Fort Streets, and the Aug. 11 deaths of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena in South Omaha's Spring Lake Park.
Authorities allege that the two men were lured to the park on the promise of receiving a sex act. Investigators believe Kruger was a random victim of a carjacking.
Nikko Jenkins has been charged with first-degree murder in all three of those deaths and the Aug. 19 slaying of Curtis Bradford.
Authorities are sorting out other charges against Jenkins family members.
Friday, a judge bound over for trial:
» Anthony Wells, another cousin, on charges that the convicted felon provided the shotgun that Nikko Jenkins used in some of the slayings.
» Lori Jenkins, Nikko's mother, and his sister Melonie Jenkins on witness-tampering charges. They are accused of attempting to intimidate Nikko Jenkins' former girlfriend into dropping terroristic threat charges against Nikko — the first case filed against him after his release from prison.
A detective testified that Jenkins reportedly had told the girlfriend that he was going to send “demonic forces” to kill the woman and her family after she refused to give him money.
His mother and sister then called the girlfriend, prosecutors say.
“The people who ride and die for Nikko are going to come get your family,” Melonie said, according to the girlfriend.
The women denied trying to badger the girlfriend.
Melonie Jenkins' attorney, W. Patrick Dunn, said his client was trying to tell the girlfriend to be careful what she and her family said about Nikko Jenkins because Nikko and his friends were dangerous.
“I think someone is trying to tell this woman, 'You're in danger and you should know that,' ” Dunn said.
— Todd Cooper