MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A tragic, high-profile, double-murder case has been settled out of court for millions of dollars.
It involves Teri Lee and her boyfriend, Tim Hawkinson, who were murdered in September of 2006 at Lee’s West Lakeland Township home near Stillwater, east of the Twin Cities.
Lee’s family sued security company ADT, saying a multi-layered security system didn’t work. On Friday, ADT and the family settled out of court just three days before a Federal Civil trial was scheduled to start.
Lee’s family sued ADT on behalf of our her four children, seeking more than $20 million for their mother’s murder. The settlement amount is undetermined and sealed by court order, but it’s believed to be a multi-million dollar amount. It does not require ADT to admit any fault.
Lee and Hawkinson were killed while they slept. Steven Van Keuren, Lee’s ex-boyfriend and 3M coworker, was convicted of the double murders in June of 2007. He broke into the home in the middle of night through the back door. He cut the phone line.
Lee was fearful of Van Keuren. He told her he was coming to kill her, so she took out a restraining order against him. She also installed a $2,600, top-of-the-line security system. It was supposed to give her and Hawkinson advance warning of an intruder, but it failed when they needed it most.
Lee even had a cell phone back-up system that should have initiated the alarm call, even with the phone lines cut, but that failed, too. The motion detectors also failed. So with no alarm and no advance warning that anyone was in the home, Van Keuren shot Lee while she slept in her bed.
“There is such a loss with Teri in the family,” said Vicki Swenson, Lee’s sister, back in June of 2007. “Our hearts are broken.”
Lee’s two daughters ran across the street for help, while her two sons hid in their rooms upstairs.
“They will never be able to say, ‘Goodnight, mom. I love you,’” said Swenson, who now has custody of the children.
Lee’s family really believes they were betrayed by ADT. The company promised to protect her with loud alarms and plenty of back-up systems, all of which were supposed to be part of that security system in the home.