As slain Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker’s widow, ex-wife and brothers looked on, a Stearns County judge said Monday that he will name a receiver from an accounting or law firm to collect all the money donated after Decker’s death. Any decisions on how those donations will be divvied up will have to wait until the funds are held in one place with a court-ordered expert overseeing them.
“We need to have an accounting,” Judge John Scherer said during a brief hearing. “There’s lots of uncertainty and we need a dollar amount. Many people stepped up and did a wonderful thing, but the court has been left in a lurch.”
The total sum of contributions from the public is unknown, lawyers said, as various memorial accounts were created at a number of banks after Decker was killed four months ago while responding to a call in a Cold Spring alley.
Alicia Decker, the officer’s wife of 14 months, and ex-wife Rebecca Decker, the mother of his four young children, are locked in a bitter legal tussle over who controls the donations.
“Alicia wants people to know this isn’t about greed or money, but what Tommy would have wanted,” attorney Claudia Revermann, who is representing the widow, said after the hearing.
According to court papers, the four Decker children haven’t seen their stepmother since their father’s funeral. Rebecca Decker says the children have not asked about Alicia, who says Rebecca has blocked her calls.
“It’s been extremely hard,” Alicia Decker said in an interview. “I lost my husband and now I feel like I’ve lost my children.”
Lawyers say separate money has been put aside so Alicia and the four children can travel to Washington in May, when Decker’s name is added to a national memorial for slain law enforcement officers. Rebecca Decker has said she will make the trip to supervise the children.
In court filings, Alicia Decker is asking for 50 percent of the donations, with the other 50 percent going to trust funds set up for the children. Rebecca Decker is requesting that each child receive 20 percent of the donations, with 20 percent reserved for Alicia.
Two of Decker’s brothers have filed documents in which they have offered to to serve as trustees, a move Rebecca Decker opposes. She supports having an independent third party oversee the donations.
Both state and federal laws use the 50 percent to the widow/50 percent to the children formula when allocating killed-in-action benefits. But this legal dispute will center around the donors’ intent, Revermann said.
The judge gave lawyers 48 hours to provide details of the various accounts before he names a receiver. He hopes to conduct another hearing within two months to determine how the money is divided.
Decker, 31, was shot in the head Nov. 29 while responding to a call.