Hey, listeners, I'm excited to tell you about the harrowing new true crime podcast called Manslaughter. It's the spine chilling story of murder. Suzanne Stork, a Wisconsin housewife who confessed to killing her husband in cold blood with a single gunshot to the head. Suzanne called the police to report that Vern, her husband, had been shot. When police arrived, they found Vernes murdered body slumped over near the bed and Suzanne covered in blood. Suzanne was as much charming as she was manipulative.
She was always successful in getting what she wanted. And in this case, it was getting away with murder. But this might not have been the first time nor the last.
I'm about to play a brief clip from the show, but while you're listening, be sure to subscribe to manslaughter on Amazon Music Stitcher or wherever you're listening right now. You can also binge all six episodes right now and add free by starting your free trial of wonder plus in the laundry app. Two a.m., the village of Oregon in Wisconsin, a few thousand people on the edge of a small highway, a few miles of streets like this one, the kind of place where people take pride in keeping the sidewalks shoveled neat from snow and it's cold.
The calendar says March, but the weather says Jan. A lone car whizzing by, there won't be another one for a while, it's probably some kids sneaking home after a night partying in Madison, the big city.
This is a small town, but it's a late night for someone moving through that big, elegant house. The light burning in the den snaps off a shadow, passes the windows heading up the stairwell. You can see more than one person upstairs. Then there's movement in the master bedroom voices.
I thought on my husband's been shot and we need help right away, you know what? I don't know if the perpetrator is still there. I don't know.
But she did know that woman was Suzanne StarTalk. She was married to my Uncle Vern and he was murdered in the most elegant mansion in Oregon, Wisconsin.
This is manslaughter. And this next part is hard to hear, hard to look at. Suzanne's call brought the police to that big, beautiful house. And when they went upstairs, Vern Stork's body was slumped on the floor next to the bed. Much of his head was gone, blown off. Blood, brains and tissue were everywhere, splattered across the walls and floor, staining the purple bedspread stuck to the floral wallpaper, stark and undeniable violence. Police reports noted it visible on the freshly washed underwear and towels in a laundry basket some feet away.
One gunshot from a high powered rifle ended the life of a decorated war veteran and a career law enforcement officer, Laverne Gerald Storch Verne to family and friends. Verne's brutal murder shocked a town, shocked this whole part of Wisconsin, really. And the wild part of the story was the identity of the killer, because it was the same woman who made the 911 one call, his wife, Suzanne, and actually she told police she did it. Full confession, first degree murder rarely happens.
But here it happened. And Vern, he was a police officer, a respected member of the community. His death made headlines. So you might think murder, murder. A cop confessed. Expert defense attorney Christine Funk says that's the kind of thing that has consequences if you kill a super nice guy who is a member of law enforcement because you were mad at him, you don't need a law degree to know that's not going to get you out of it.
They threw the book at her.
They locked her up for life. Nobody gets away with something like that, right?
Well, no, that's not what happened. By 1971, Suzanne Storchak was a free woman, see, Vern StarTalk was a senior official in the state government, so newspapers paid attention, 14 of them carried stories of his murder in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, not just in the days after four weeks, four months for the next few years, but nothing came of that. There is no sensational murder trial where a jury punished Suzanne for a brutal crime.
Instead, the news cycle diminished into a trickle of procedural updates. Suzanne said she did it. There were hearing delays. A new judge, the lead prosecutor, the district attorney himself handed off the case to a rookie prosecutor to go on an army retreat. Eventually, the charges were reduced from first degree murder to manslaughter, manslaughter, just the unintentional killing of another person. No intent, no motive, no murder. And that all happened because of a really wild chain of events.
Here's criminal defense attorney Christine Funk.
Again, at the end of the day, the legal gymnastics come down to sort of a perfect storm.
Suzanne. Sort of slept just three nights in jail. She spent 11 months in a mental health facility. Then she got married again. Vern was Susanne's fourth husband. She buried five of them in the end. More about those guys later.