By Calvin Palmer
Relatives of Sheri Coleman were yesterday granted access by a judge to the two-story home where she and her two sons were found strangled to death.
The walls inside the home in Columbia, Illinois, had been scrawled with expletives and warned of a presence “always watching”.
Christopher Coleman, 32, has been charged with first-degree murder in the May 5 deaths of Sheri, 31, and their two sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, aged nine. He remains held without bond.
Following the discovery that Sheri Coleman’s name was taken off the deed to the home last year, her mother and brother, Angela DeCicco and Mario Weiss, have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Monroe County.
Her family questioned whether Sheri Coleman knew or was coerced into allowing it, the family’s attorney Enrico Mirabelli said.
On October 6, Sheri Coleman signed a quit-claim deed on her house, surrendering her ownership share to her husband and signed a new mortgage for the same home for $230,850.
“Is there a rational basis for her to take her name off a house held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship?” asked attorney Jack Carey, who filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family. “I can’t think of a rational basis why she would voluntarily give up her claim to the marital home.”
Monroe County property records show the Colemans’ original mortgage filed March 2, 2005, for $202,269 had Sheri Coleman’s name listed on the deed and the mortgage.
Mirabelli, Carey’s co-counsel and Sheri’s cousin, said the new mortgage reflected between $28,000 and $30,000 in cash equity that would have been realized as a result of the transaction.
“At this point, we have no idea what happened to that money, but we intend to investigate,” he said.
Many possessions in the home had been boxed up, with some marked “toys,” according to Carey. No pictures were on the walls.
Carey said there were no signs of violence or struggle, but that someone had written expletives and other messages on the walls in red spray paint.
Writing near the kitchen read: “I saw you leave. F**k you! I am always watching.”
Mirabelli called the writings “vicious.”
Police have not yet announced a motive in the killings.
Mirabelli said the family’s legal action was the only way to get some of Sheri Coleman’s belongings for her mother. Until the judge’s order, Chris Coleman’s family had access to the home and its contents.
The lawsuit also seeks financial documents about Chris Coleman from Joyce Meyer Ministries, a Missouri.-based evangelical Christian group for which Coleman worked security until resigning after his arrest, and from Coleman’s father, Chester pastor Ronald Coleman.
Any proceeds from the lawsuit, which seeks at least $100,000, would be used to erect a monument to the victims, attorneys said.
Representatives from Joyce Meyer Ministries were “working together with representatives of Sheri Coleman’s family and are gathering the information requested,” said spokesman Roby Walker.
Bill Margulis, Chris Coleman’s attorney, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.