LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – Cheryl Bertels questions a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the death of her son, 43-year-old Brian Fredde.
Just one day after Fredde was shot in the chest and killed, the sheriff’s office posted on its Facebook page that it might have been self-defense.
Bertels said her oldest son, “…always had a smile. His laughter was something that we will never hear again.”
She wears a “Justice for Brian” wristband and an “In Loving Memory” shirt to remember him. Fredde died July 4, 2019, after coming home from work. He was outside his car. It was at about 2:30 p.m.
“I was in my kitchen. I could hear the gunshot,” she said. “My grandchildren were in the backyard playing; they came running in - I was running out.”
Bertels said it wasn’t even 24 hours later when the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook: “Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation suggests the suspect acted in self-defense.”
“That was like somebody took a club to our head,” Bertels said. “…No investigation at that point. What could they have investigated? I was at the scene too. There was nothing there that pointed to self-defense.”
Fox 2 asked the sheriff’s office about the Facebook post. A spokesman responded by email: “That is not a legal conclusion, that is an observation based on the evidence in this case that was forwarded to the PA (Prosecuting Attorney) on July 5, 2019.”
Bertels said community pressure led deputies to talk to more witnesses even though she said those same deputies told her the case was closed.
“They said it was closed July 18 but then I knew it wasn’t closed because they were still knocking on my door,” she said.
The sheriff’s spokesman wrote in a follow-up email, “These types of investigations are continually investigated and the sheriff's office has investigated this case for months now. Many interviews were conducted and we asked everyone involved if there was anyone we need to talk with. We have also consulted with the PA on this case and asked if they required any additional investigations. The PA sent us a list of additional investigation requests which we have met.”
The sheriff’s office declined to talk on camera, saying the case was in the hands of the prosecution. Lincoln County’s prosecuting attorney said he could not talk because this is an active investigation, but he hopes to have an update soon.