Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 9, after what appeared to be the final round of questioning in the jury selection process, the court announced a mistrial.
The murder of a successful businessman and his longtime companion in the fall of 2010 left residents in the Shawnee Bend neighborhood where they lived with an uneasy feeling and sense of fear. From all accounts the victims, William Van Note and Sharon Dickson, were well liked and had plans to eventually marry. The bulk of Van Note's wealth was to go to Dickson, with his daughter, Susan Elizabeth Van Note, also receiving a portion despite having what Susan herself characterized as a volatile relationship with her father.
The months of speculation on who murdered the wealthy couple and why turned into years. As time passed, the likelihood that the person(s) responsible would ever be brought to justice seemed to fade.
Many had hoped the answers to what happened on the night of Oct. 2, 2010 would become clear as the trial of accused murderer Susan Elizabeth Van Note got underway on Monday, June 8 in Laclede County. But late in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 9, after what appeared to be the final round of questioning in the jury selection process, the court announced a mistrial.
A tainted juror was later given as the reason for the mistrial declared by Judge Kenneth Hayden.
Potential jurors were dismissed. More details are expected to be available on Wednesday, June 10.
Missouri Assistant Attorney General Kevin Zoellner and Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Gilley were handling the prosecution. The case had been moved from Camden to Laclede County on a change of venue.
Susan Elizabeth Van Note is charged with the brutal murder of Dickson and her father in an odd and twisted story. Van Note allegedly used a forged power of attorney/durable will document to convince doctors she was his legal representative. He was subsequently taken off life support.
The charges alleging the forgery and murder of her father were filed in Boone County. She was later charged with murder and forgery in Camden County in September of 2013 for the death of her father and for the murder of Dickson.
In the years prior to the trial, Susan or "Liz" Van Note as she is called, found herself not only embroiled in the criminal aspects of the case against her but the civil side as well after her rights to Van Note's estate were challenged.
William B. Van Note, 67, and Sharon L. Dickson, 59, died after suffering gunshot and knife wounds at their lake home. Dickson was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy indicated she had died from extensive blood loss from multiple stab wounds that had perforated her lungs and aorta. She had also been shot several times. Van Note was transported to a Boone County hospital with life threatening injuries. He died several days later after being removed from life support. Prosecutors maintain he was improving prior to his death.
Van Note was able to call Morgan County 911 before he lost consciousness. He told dispatchers Dickson had been shot and he thought he had been injured, too. He did not identify the assailant.
The 911 call was routed to the Camden County Sheriff's Department. Deputies responded to the Van Note's home on the lake's westside shortly after 11 p.m. the night of Oct. 2. The body of Sharon L. Dickson was found in the home's upstairs master suite. Van Note was found near Dickson, with multiple stab wounds and a gun shot to the head. Detectives said Van Note had attempted to revive Dickson.
An autopsy indicated she had died from extensive blood loss from multiple stab wounds that had perforated her lungs and aorta. She had also been shot several times.
The couple had been seen returning home about 5 p.m. that evening after visiting with friends. No one in the neighborhood reported hearing anything that evening prior to be awakened by sirens and dogs barking. Van Note had apparently left a message on a friend's answering machine, asking for help. That call is believed to have been placed prior to him calling 911.
Barbara Van Note told investigators her daughter was at home with her and her son at their Kansas City area home when the attacks took place.
Later, detectives would connect a call made from Van Note's cell phone made that night within the same time frame as the 911 call.
The court documents allege Van Note conspired to kill her father by having him removed from life support using a forged power of attorney. Within two days of his being taken to the University of Missouri, she showed up at the hospital with the document signed by two friends who initially said they were witnesses to William Van Note's signing the documents.
The friends, Stacey and Desre Dory later changed their stories after being charged with second degree murder and forgery.
During the investigation when questioned about her relationship with her father, Susan Van Note said it was troubled. When asked if she had ever thought about killing her father, she told investigators, "I did as a teenager. I was going to run him over with his boat ... and then he stopped skiing."
Susan Van Note was a practicing attorney in the Kansas City area prior to her arrest. She is the only surviving child of William Van Note. Susan Van Note has one son.