By: Camila Orti
UPDATE: Michael Petersen, the man accused of shooting a Grand Island lawyer, is now being tied to a second murder. Authorities found the body his ex-wife, Buffalo County resident Nancy Petersen, Thursday morning at her home near Kearney.
Petersen was in court Friday, charged with first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony in the shooting death of Todd Elsbernd. Officials say a second murder charge, for Nancy's death, will be filed next week.
Police say it started as a targeted shooting. They say 58–year–old Petersen shot Elsbernd Wednesday night right outside his law office.
The next day, authorities arrested Petersen after a traffic stop near Hastings. The arrest happened before Petersen would also be investigated for the murder of his ex-wife.
When Nancy Petersen was found shot to death at her home on Thursday, investigators began piecing together the puzzle.
"This is a somewhat unique set of facts," Hall County Attorney Mark Young said.
At a bond hearing Friday, Young said the two murders are connected.
Elsbernd was the former couple's divorce lawyer 11 years ago, a case that officials say ended badly. Long-time colleague and friend of Elsbernd's, Mike Kneale, says the case is mind-blowing.
"You never think of something that's going to go to the level of someone killing somebody over a case, and their spouse," Kneale said.
Kneale added he wants to know why the attack happened now, after so many years had passed.
"That's what surprised me the most, that it was a case that had been closed," Kneale said.
After Friday morning's hearing, friends of Elsbernd say their concern is with his wife and children, hoping they don't have to sit through a painful trial.
The same could be said of Nancy Petersen's family. The couple have a son.
The fact that the suspect is behind bars, being held without bond, gives Kneale a little relief.
"That lets us know this man is not going to be out to cause any further tragedies," Kneale said.
A funeral for Elsbernd has been scheduled for Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Grand Island.
Police say Petersen shot Elsbernd around 6:30 Wednesday night, outside Elsbernd's law office as the attorney was walking to his vehicle. Then Petersen fled.
Thursday, the Buffalo County Sheriff's office reported that 58–year–old Nancy Petersen was shot to death. She was found that morning.