Four weeks before he allegedly shot his wife to death, Todd Koolmo apparently told an Alpine city police officer, "I am seriously considering doing the `DEED.' "
Investigators say they found that chilling message in a computer e-mail sent by Koolmo to officer James Cowan on Feb. 17. On March 18, Melissa Koolmo, 28, was shot and killed as she sat on her living room sofa.Koolmo admitted a week later in an interview with the Deseret News that he shot his wife but insisted it was an accident.
"This wasn't a planned thing," he said in the interview. "I know deep in my heart that I did not mean to shoot her. I did not aim that gun at her. I waved it in her direction and it went off."
But prosecutors charged him with murder, a first-degree felony, which requires the element of intent. An affidavit for a search warrant filed Monday reveals a piece of the evidence that may have led them to that conclusion.
Filed by Salt Lake police homicide detective Mark E. Scharman, the affidavit said the e-mail was found in a computer that family members retrieved from the Koolmos' home. A relative who is a computer programmer in Minnesota came upon the message as he was refurbishing the computer.
The family contacted prosecutor Blake Nakamara on April 21, and then sent the computer back to Salt Lake City. They also faxed Scharman a copy of the full text of the e-mail message from "kool" to "cowancop."
In it, "kool" said his wife told him she wanted a divorce as they were driving down from Snowbird the day before. At the time,
Koolmo, 31, was a security officer at the ski resort. The e-mail message went on to say:
"I ask if there is anything I could do to save the marriage and she says `This has been coming on for a long time!! blah, blah . . .
"I am seriously considering doing the `DEED' and then I'll have the last word!!! I just need to know if you will provide me cartons of cigs to make me the big boy on campus??? If not I'll just do us both!"
In prisons, cigarettes are commonly used as a form of currency among inmates.
When questioned about the e-mail, Cowan told Salt Lake detectives that he recalled the message but thought Koolmo was contemplating suicide. Cowan also confirmed that he and Koolmo had exchanged e-mail messages a number of times. The police officer turned over his own computer to prosecutors on April 24, consenting to a search of its contents.
However, the affidavit says investigators had been unable to retrieve any e-mail from Cowan's computer.
Koolmo's association with Cowan might also shed some light on how Koolmo came to have an Alpine City Police Department badge. Investigators found the Alpine badge along with a Pomona City Police Department badge during a search of the Koolmo home at 2868 S. Dearborn St. (1460 East.)
Neither Cowan nor his police chief could be reached for comment on the case.
Scharman said in the affidavit that during his interview with investigators, Koolmo expressed a concern about how he would be treated in jail because he used to be a reserve police officer in Pomona, Calif.
A relative later told police that Koolmo was "always trying to be something he wasn't." She said that when the Koolmos lived in Minnesota, Todd worked as a security officer but put police patches on his uniform and represented himself as a police officer.
Koolmo told police that he and his wife had a history of marital problems and that the gun, a Colt .45, had been brandished during previous disputes. He said that on the night of the shooting, they were arguing about divorce and about who would get the car.
In his statement to police, Koolmo said his wife picked up the gun from a kitchen counter, handed it to him and suggested he shoot himself. He said he pointed it at her and it suddenly went off. He couldn't explain how Melissa came to have two bullet wounds, in the face and shoulder, the affidavit said.
Based on the affidavit, 3rd District Judge Dennis M. Fuchs signed a search warrant allowing detectives to search for the Koolmos' computer for "letters, e-mails or journal entries or any electronic or digital records." Detectives seized 175 e-mail messages received by the computer and 132 e-mail messages sent by the computer.