Double murderer wants 6-year-old to sleep in prisonBob Greene
August 26, 2001
In a Nebraska courtroom Monday, arguments are scheduled to be heard about whether a 6-year-old boy should be sent to prison.
The child hasn't done anything wrong. His mother is serving two life sentences for two murders, and she wants the boy to sleep at the prison with her once every two weeks.
The boy's mother is Kimberly Faust, 35. On April 25, 2000, Faust -- apparently jealous about a relationship she believed her estranged husband was having with another woman -- led that woman to a remote area, stabbed her repeatedly, then set the woman's car on fire with the woman inside it. When a man who lived in the neighborhood saw the burning car, he ran to try to help whoever might be inside. Kimberly Faust shot the man to death as he tried to rescue the woman Faust had stabbed; Faust also shot the woman.
For her crimes, Faust was ordered to serve two life sentences at the Nebraska women's prison in York.
But now she has taken her former husband to court. She wants him charged with civil contempt for refusing to allow their 6-year-old son to have sleepovers with her inside the prison.
The husband -- Bruce Faust -- said that he is worried about the idea of his son being locked in the prison overnight. In addition to his deep concerns about safety, he said he is against the signal that having young children sleep in prisons sends.
He said last week at a court hearing that he does not want the state of Nebraska, by ordering the boy to sleep in the prison, to make the child think "it's Mommy's house out there, and it's a good place to be. That's not the message he should get about what prison is."
In Nebraska, children between 1 and 8 years of age may be sent to sleep in their mothers' prisons. Once they pass age 8, their mothers may no longer demand the children spend nights in prison. The visits require the custodial parent's permission.
Which is where the argument in this case comes in. As part of a divorce decree, Bruce Faust consented to allow his wife to have visits with the 6-year-old boy every other week from 8 p.m. Thursday to 8 p.m. Friday during the summer, and from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday during the school year. Bruce Faust now says he did not realize this meant his son would literally be ordered to sleep in the prison. His wife's attorney said that Faust did know.
Last week, the judge in Otoe County who is hearing the case -- Judge Randall Rehmeier -- warned Bruce Faust that if he does not comply with the divorce decree, and deliver his son to the prison when Kimberly Faust wants the boy to sleep there, then Bruce Faust could be sent to jail for contempt.
Faust, who could not afford to hire an attorney, was given until Monday to confer with a lawyer appointed by the court. Faust is fearful about his son being sent into a prison to spend the night with a woman capable of committing the crimes Kimberly Faust committed.
According to testimony at her trial, Kimberly Faust lured Shannon Bluhm, who she believed was having a relationship with Bruce Faust, to a rural area in Otoe County. In a car, she then repeatedly stabbed Bluhm on her face, hands and chest. Faust set the car on fire, and left.
But when a man who lived nearby with his wife and three children -- Robert Parminter, 45 -- saw the flaming car, he hurried out to see if someone needed help. He tried to pull Shannon Bluhm, who was by then on fire, from the car -- at which point Kimberly Faust returned and shot Parminter in the left eye, the left side of his mouth, and, after he was on the ground, under his chin. She also shot Shannon Bluhm in the back of her head.
At Kimberly Faust's murder trial, her defense attorneys argued that she suffered from psychological conditions that caused her to handle stress badly, and was not always able to appreciate the consequences of her actions.
Now Judge Rehmeier, in Otoe County, appears to believe that, because Bruce and Kimberly Faust may have agreed in their divorce decree to let the child be sent to the mother's house to sleep, then the judge's hands are tied.
This shouldn't even be in a courtroom. The wishes of the adults should not matter. As we have been reporting in recent weeks, the way the legal system works in Nebraska can at times make it seem as if the children's interests come dead last.
Judge Rehmeier shouldn't be playing any part in this. If Nebraska prison officials don't understand what a disgrace this is, and if the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, entrusted to safeguard Nebraska's children, truly can't figure out a way to protect the boy from being ordered into the prison overnight, then it may be time for the governor of Nebraska to show that someone in authority has at least some common sense.
Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns can be contacted in his Lincoln office by e-mail (Mjohanns@notes.state.ne.us), by phone (402-471-2244), by fax (402-471-6031) or by mail (P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509).
Copyright © 2001 Chicago Tribune.