Leon County family hires private investigator for mother's alleged suicide

LEON COUNTY, (Tex.) - A Leon County family is pleading for answers surrounding the death of their mother, Janice Willhelm.

Her children insist there's something fishy about their mother's death, which the Leon County Sheriff’s Office ruled a suicide in 2010. Jennifer Davis and Wayne Robeson hired a private investigator in 2014 who believes law enforcement may have kept a murder from ever being solved.

"When you want to write a book about this you should name it 'If You Want to Murder Your Wife Move to Leon County," said private investigator Skip Ensley. He has worked nothing but cold cases for more than 20 years. Ensley said he initially was suspicious of the call from Willhelm’s children, because they were concerned about an allegedly forged will.

"I reviewed the case and then I got a copy of all the crime scene photographs,” said Ensley. "The first thing that I noticed was that the gun was in the wrong place."

After researching the case, Ensley believes there are a number of inconsistencies surrounding Janice’s death: the placement of the gun, the claim Janice committed suicide, and the handling of the investigation by the sheriff's office.

"They did not print the gun; they did not do a gunshot residue test on the husband and they misplaced and lost a gunshot residue kit on the victim’s hands," said Ensley.

Janice's children say her husband, Gerald Willhelm, called 911 and told authorities she had stopped taking her medication. He said she talked about shooting herself because she was depressed.

"The problem is the toxicology report came back and all of her medication was at its highest level in her system,” said Ensley. “So how could she be out of the medication for ten weeks and have the medication still in her system?"

Ensley contacted the medical examiner who ruled the death a suicide. Ensley's findings showed Janice wasn't capable of shooting herself from behind. A shot, he says, would have paralyzed her.

"Her hands end up back under the cover, the gun ends up 8-10 feet away from her. How can she do that with a severed spinal cord?" asked Ensley. He maintains the biggest problem with the case is the way it was handled by law enforcement.

"It looks like they didn't do anything,” he said. “They just took [Gerald Willhelm] at his word and said ‘jeez you're having a bad day and have a nice day’."

He says because of the missteps by law enforcement he doesn't believe the case will ever be solved.

"It is disheartening to think that somebody is going to allow someone to get away with murder,” said Ensley. “Unfortunately, law enforcement officers in some cases are more interested in their personal image than they are trying to solve a crime."

The Leon County Sherriff's Office declined to respond to the family's allegations but did tell KBTX after closing the case and ruling it a suicide. It was presented to a grand jury by the Texas Rangers.

Since the taping of this story, Skip Ensley has stopped investigating this case.