Judge blocks Jensen cremations
Mesa County District Judge Thomas Deister on Thursday granted an emergency injunction to block plans to cremate the bodies of Tyler and William Jensen, now in the care of a Grand Junction funeral home.
The judge, however, said the boys’ grandparents first must post $5,000.
“The court finds that the preliminary injunction should be issued without notice to respondent (mother Heather Jensen),” Deister wrote in his order.
Attorney Greg Leavitt, who’s representing the boys’ grandmother, Diane Mathena of Clifton, wrote in an application for an emergency injunction that he had attempted unsuccessfully to communicate with Heather Jensen’s attorney, Ed Nugent, about the status of the bodies.
“Because the cremations are arranged and imminent, the court finds that further delay in attempting to reach (Jensen) or (Nugent) should not be required,” the ruling reads.
Deister’s order, however, says the Mathenas must post a $5,000 security bond in order for the injunction to issue, consistent with Colorado legal rules. That had not happened as of early Thursday evening.
“This is why my clients are working to raise money,” Leavitt said.
“... Because (Heather Jensen) is likely to incur attorney fees and costs in response to the actions taken herein, and because Callahan-Edfast Mortuary is likely to incur costs to maintain the boys’ remains until decisions are made in this matter, the court finds that security of $5,000 is necessary,” Deister wrote in the order.
Heather Jensen has asked Callahan-Edfast to cremate the bodies.
Mesa County Chief Deputy Coroner Kim Hollingshead said autopsies were completed for both boys and the bodies were turned over to Callahan-Edfast, consistent with a request from Heather Jensen. Per coroner’s office policy, Hollingshead said remains can be transferred after next-of-kin have been identified, a request has been made for transfer and the coroner’s office has confirmation of a contractual relationship between next-of-kin and a funeral home.
Daryl Pridy, Callahan-Edfast funeral director and assistant manager, confirmed the mortuary has the remains and cremation was “pending but on hold” until the legal issues surrounding the bodies are resolved.
“We want to do what’s best for the boys, as well as the legal representative,” Pridy said.
Aside from the short-term injunction, Diane Mathena is separately requesting that Deister make a final determination of her legal rights to bury her grandchildren, as opposed to the mother. Mathena argues she’s in a much better position to do just that and wants her grandchildren buried next to their father, Eric Jensen, in Palisade.
“The petitioner (Diane Mathena) bases this assertion on the current circumstances surrounding the death of William and Tyler and that those circumstances reflect an uncaring and potential criminal culpable respondent (Heather Jensen),” the filing reads.
Deister noted in his order Heather Jensen would be barred under Colorado law from directing final disposition of the remains if she’s arrested or charged with a felony in connection with the boys’ death. Heather Jensen has not responded to requests for comment from The Daily Sentinel. Nugent has said she’s been advised against making any such statements.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the Nov. 27 incident which started with a 911 phone call from Heather Jensen at 6:31 p.m., who reported she was at Powderhorn Mountain Resort, according to a search warrant affidavit. She told dispatchers her youngest, William, 2, was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse. He was pronounced dead when authorities arrived.
The affidavit said she reported around 6:50 p.m. that Tyler, 4, was having trouble breathing. Tyler died Monday after being removed from life support.