April Kauffman’s death garnered national attention.
The popular local radio host who fought for veterans was shot dead inside her bedroom in the quiet, upscale town of Linwood.
The story was everywhere after her May 10, 2012, slaying.
And then, nothing.
Four years later, there is no arrest and no new information.
Still, whispers rise up from time to time, feeding the gossip mill.
But behind the salacious musings, there is a daughter looking for answers and fighting the urge to just hide.
Shameeka Harvey will never forget her mother’s piercing scream.
People ask Kimberly Pack about her mother’s case: “Do you think they’ll ever arrest anyone? Do you think they’re really working on it?”
“It’s never, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How do you feel?’” she says. “Sometimes you feel like you’re a sideshow at a circus.”
Pack is normally reserved, a contrast to her outgoing, push-them-until-they-bend mother.
Just before her death, Kauffman received the Governor’s Award for Community Service. And, about 24 hours before her friends were hearing about her death, she was on the radio to talk about Shore Medical Center in Somers Point being certified to provide health care services for veterans covered under TRICARE, a program paid for by the Pentagon.
She helped lead a petition drive to bring the program to South Jersey, saving many veterans from having to travel out of state for care.
Pack knows, if she were the one gone, her mother would have fought for answers. April Kauffman would have knocked down every door until something happened.
Her daughter is trying.
“It’s really hard, because I’m rowing this boat myself,” Pack says.
She has her husband and two young sons, and supportive friends. But the hole from losing her best friend just three days before Mother’s Day 2012 is gaping.
“The person I would have probably reached out to is my mom,” she says.
Instead, Pack is trying to channel some of her mother’s fighting spirit.
Right now, she’s in the midst of a legal battle with her stepfather, sparked by his attempts to claim two life insurance policies his wife had taken out.
The company turned down Dr. James Kauffman’s claim because the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office couldn’t provide a letter to say he was not considered a suspect in his wife’s homicide.
After he filed a suit against Transamerica Life Insurance Co. in federal court, the company introduced a possibly interested third party: Pack.
Since April Kauffman’s only child was the secondary beneficiary, she would be entitled to the money if the widower wasn’t.
Once Pack joined the case, Transamerica stepped out, putting the money — and the decision of whom it will go to — into the court’s hands.
In a 13-page document filed two years ago, Pack’s attorney alleges “Plaintiff James Michael Kauffman is responsible for the intentional killing of April Kauffman on May 10, 2012.”
Dr. Kauffman has denied involvement in his wife’s death, through his attorney, Ed Jacobs.
He was worried when he couldn’t reach his wife, so he called Will Gonzalez, a handyman who took care of April Kauffman’s birds, to check on her.
Gonzalez is the one who found her body.
“My boss is flat on the floor in her bedroom,” Gonzalez says in an 11:29 a.m. 911 call. “She has a cut on her arm. She’s not answering.”
The tape was released by the Prosecutor’s Office. But it’s unclear how much was edited out.
The couple owned guns, but authorities refused to comment on whether one of those was used in the kiling or whether any were missing.
A motion filed by Pack’s attorneys has pushed for more information about the investigation to be released.
With just the local parties left, the formerly federal lawsuit has been moved down to Atlantic County Superior Court’s Civil Courthouse in Atlantic City.
Depositions have been made and motions filed. A trial is pending.
Dr. Kauffman is remarried and auctioned off his former wife’s belongings. Friends bought some of those they thought Pack would want. He has ignored attempts by media to talk with him.
Jacobs told The Press of Atlantic City that he would not comment on the case, leaving that battle in the courtroom and out of the paper.
Pack’s attorney, Pat D’Arcy, did not answer a call requesting comment.
For Pack, it’s not about money or a good story. It’s about her mom. Two grandsons without their Mimi.
Whenever she reads stories about others who have lost loved ones to violence, she wants to reach out. But she also doesn’t want to impose.
Pack wants to let them know it gets better.
But she also knows how difficult it continues to be.
“I catch myself making myself very, very busy,” she says.
It’s the quiet times of rest when it really hits.
Sitting at the kitchen table in her Linwood home, she dabs at the tears that start to come.
“You often don’t meet somebody who’s been through such a horrific ordeal,” she says. “I wish people had reached out to me.”
April Kauffman’s husband did not kill her, according to a response filed Friday in a federal…
Anyone with information about this or any other Atlantic County homicide is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 609-909-7666.
Copy desk chief / comics blogger