WEST POINT — A father and son have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for killing an elderly man in a night of murder and arson.
Prosecutors say Derek Olson and his father, Jody Olson, killed 64-year-old Ernest Warnock on March 10, 2017, then burned down his house in rural Rosalie. According to court filings, Derek and Jody Olson, accompanied by Becky Weitzenkamp, went to Warnock’s home looking to recover some of the woman’s property. An argument escalated into a brawl. Warnock stabbed Jody Olson once in the arm. Derek Olson stabbed Warnock several times in the neck and head, before finally striking the man with a ball peen hammer.
Warnock was dead, and the three scrambled to cover the crime. They burned down the home and crime scene, attempting to destroy the evidence and killing at least one dog trapped inside the house.
The Olsons accomplices were the first to plead guilty and receive sentencing. Becky Weitzenkamp, of Oakland, was sentenced to 18-20 years for being an accessory – she was present during the murder, purchased the fuel used to start the rural Rosalie house on fire, and drove Jody Olson back to the victim’s house to burn it down after the killing. She pleaded guilty in February to one count of being an accessory to a felony. In exchange for her plea, a charge of first degree Arson was dropped.
Jenna Merrill, another accomplice and also of Oakland, was sentenced to two years in prison for being an accessory to a felony. The night of the murder, Merrill was present in a vehicle with the Olsons and Weitzenkamp inside. She had knowledge of both the murder and arson, and was helping Jody Olson get to a hospital for treatment of the stab wound he’d sustained during the murder. He was obviously bleeding when the murderous quartet were stopped by a patrol officer, who became suspicious. Merrill lied when she told that police officer that that Jody Olson had been stabbed at a fight at the Bonanza Bar in Homer, Nebraska, and they were taking him to a Sioux City hospital. She was also suspected of disposing of evidence, including bloody clothing and a knife that were eventually recovered by law enforcement.
Derek Olson, 29, was given 42 to 64 years at his sentencing on Thursday in West Point. He’d pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and arson. He was originally charged with second-degree murder, accessory to a felony, use of a weapon to commit a felony, first-degree arson and cruelty to an animal for the death of a dog in the fire.
Jody Olson, 49, was sentenced to 40 to 60 years in prison for the same charges of second degree murder and first-degree arson.