LPD: Gas lines disconnected before deadly home explosion
Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister confirms gas lines inside a southeast Lincoln home were intentionally disconnected before a deadly home explosion in August of 2017.
After a long investigation ruled that the home explosion that killed two people was a murder/suicide, LPD released details of the investigation.
LPD has previously said Jimmy Jasa purposely caused the explosion at 5601 South 78th Street to kill his wife, Jeanne Jasa.
According to the final case summary released by LPD on Oct. 25, LPD and Lincoln Fire and Rescue responded to 5601 S 78th Street on August 14 around 4:33 p.m., and learned that two people had been injured.
Prior to the arrival of rescue crews, bystanders pulled Jimmy Jasa and Jeanne Jasa from the home, the summary said.
Jeanne was badly injured, and Jimmy was standing near her when police contacted them. The summary explained Jimmy did not appear to have sustained as serious of injuries as Jeanne.
On August 29, Jeanne died at St. Elizabeth hospital, and investigators were unable to interview Jeanne due to the severity of her injuries, according to LPD.
An autopsy then revealed Jeanne died from thermal injuries and blunt force trauma.
Months later, Jimmy died on May 2, 2018 from the injuries sustained during the explosion. According to the release, Jimmy had kidney failure which led to septic shock.
The summary explained that LPD, the Lancaster County Attorney's Office, as well as Lincoln Building and Safety, the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms all assisted in the 14-month investigation.
The summary states LPD conducted several interviews with family, friends, and neighbors, which helped lead to the determination.
It was discovered the couple had been married for 45-years, but separated for several years prior to the explosion, and that Jeanne had been living with her mother for a while. The release said she would periodically stop by Jimmy's residence to check on him.
On the day of the explosion, Jeanne had been working on a scrapbook and needed to pick up some photos, the release stated.
Cell phone records showed Jeanne texted Jimmy 36 minutes prior to the first 911 call, stating she would be at the home in 20 minutes.
It was determined 36 minutes would be adequate time to fill the residence with sufficient gas to cause the explosion.
It was also determined, according to the release, the odor of the gas would have been overwhelming, causing a normal person to evacuate the residence.
In addition, the release states interviews led investigators to believe Jimmy had been struggling with alcohol abuse, and had been estranged from his children.
Jeanne reportedly told Jimmy that if he didn't work on his relationship with his kids, she would file for divorce, according to the summary.
Jimmy had reportedly told Jeanne he would "never let a divorce happen."
In letters reviewed by authorities, Jimmy writes about his frustrations over the relationship and failed marriage, and a neighbor told police they believed Jimmy's alcoholism had worsened and he had become depressed and possibly suicidal.
Black Hills Energy also conducted an investigation, and concluded the house had consumed more than four times its average monthly amount of natural gas, but Black Hills was never notified.
Fire investigators said that in order for that amount of gas to be released, all ignition sources would need to be intentionally extinguished.
The Chief Mechanical Inspector found several problems with gas lines, the release states, including the main gas line being snapped off at the regulator.
They also discovered the gas fitting to the water heater was loose, and there were tool marks on the fitting.
Other fittings were found to be loose, and the Chief Fire Inspector said that three loose gas fittings is highly unusual, leading police to believe they had been tampered with.
On July 25, authorities met for a preliminary review of the case, and the manner of death for Jimmy and Jeanne was initially listed as undetermined to allow the Jasa family to continue with the estate process, the release states.
On September 24, agencies involved in the investigation reconvened to conduct a final review, and determined that it was a murder/suicide.