Reporting Liz Collin
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He died in the line of duty, serving as a Cold Spring police officer. Now, there is a court fight over all of the money people donated after his death.
Officer Tom Decker died in November after he was shot and killed outside a bar in Cold Spring. Ever since, people have donated to bank funds and fundraisers to help those he left behind.
But, deciding who gets what has emotions running high.
Becky Decker is Tom Decker’s first wife and the mother of his four children. She said she’s been doing her best to keep it all together.
“Knowing that they can’t bring their dad back, it’s the hardest thing,” Becky Decker said. “They really miss him.”
She is still helping them grieve the loss of their dad but Becky Decker’s now locked in another battle she didn’t see coming.
In January, Tom Decker’s second wife and widow, Alicia Decker filed a petition to establish a trust. It asks that Alicia Decker be appointed as trustee of all memorial funds that have been collected.
Then, she would distribute the money to the family as the donors intended. Tom Decker’s Will names Alicia Decker as his personal representative, giving her the most power of his personal matters.
Since Officer Decker’s death, tens of thousands of dollars have been donated. Organizers expected to raise $50,000 alone at a concert at his old high school in January, and less than two weeks ago the community was back at it again holding a basketball tournament in his name.
“How much was raised and where’s the money? If it was for the kids, where is it? They haven’t seen any of it,” Becky Decker said.
Recent court filings say Alicia Decker would now like an independent trustee to manage the accounts, but she’s asking for half of the memorial fund money and for the rest to be split up among his four children.
Alicia Decker did not respond to our repeated phone calls when we wanted to talk to her about her request.
But Becky Decker wants the money to be divided evenly between all five parties.
She thinks most people who donated did so to give to his kids — a belief that will likely have to be decided by a judge.
Court documents say Officer Decker’s widow did receive his life insurance proceeds. Tom Decker had been paying $1,200 a month in child support. But, his children are now receiving a social security and worker’s compensation check each month.
On April 1, Judge John Scherer appointed an independent receiver to hold all assets pending a hearing to determine who is entitled to receive the funds while the lawsuit proceeds. A future hearing date has not yet been set.