CROWN POINT — A well-respected Hobart attorney had been trying to place William "Bill" Landske, a former Cedar Lake councilman and the husband of deceased state Sen. Sue Landske, in adult protective services before Landske gunned him down Wednesday, newly filed court documents allege.
Landske, 83, of Cedar Lake, was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court with murder in the shooting death of T. Edward Page, a local attorney and former magistrate judge.
Landske allegedly told police he shot Page because he was angry with the attorney's work on his late wife's taxes, court records state. State Sen. Sue Landske died in 2015.
“I was pissed off at him,” he told police. “All this stuff he was supposed to be doing, all these years, there it is.”
Landske also told police he was "losing his marbles slowly," records state.
Hobart Police Lt. James Gonzales told reporters at a news conference Friday after the charge was filed that he didn't believe Landske was suffering from dementia. "He did not appear to have any mental incapacity to me," Gonzales said.
"He didn't know the day or day of the week, but he indicated he was retired and didn't keep track of that. (Hobart Police) Sgt. Houck asked him if he knew right from wrong, and he said he did and I asked if he knew what he did was wrong, and he acknowledged he had taken another man's life."
Defense attorney Larry Rogers confirmed Friday he was hired to represent Landske.
“I have talked to Mr. Landske. I talked to family members, and this is completely out of character,” Rogers said. “Something has happened, something is drastically wrong and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Landske was arrested after police were dispatched about 11:50 a.m. Wednesday for a gunshot victim at Page's home.
Landske and two of his daughters, Cheryl Boisson and Jacqueline M. Basilotta, were at the residence in the 1200 block of West Fourth Street to pick up tax documents Sue Landske had given Page before her 2015 death from lung cancer.
William Landske had previously told his daughters he was frustrated with Page, records state.
He allegedly said of Page before they went to his home: “What has Ted done for us these last three years; has he done anything for us?”
Victim longtime family friend
Boisson said Page was a longtime family friend. She said she was in town with her sister, because Page wanted to have her father put in adult protective services, and she had his power of attorney, records state. She said Page feared that her brother, Eric Landske, was trying to take advantage of their father.
Gonzales said the son has hired an attorney and came to the prosecutor's office Friday morning. Gonzales said Erik Landske is not a suspect in the case.
"We are just trying to get some insight into what was going on with the family. We want to speak with family members more and shed more light on the mindset of Bill," Gonzales said.
The family filed paperwork Aug. 14 in the Lake County Recorder's office assigning William Landske's power of attorney to two family members. Eric Landske was assigned power of attorney for his father's medical decisions, county records state, and Boisson had power of attorney for all other business.
As they were loading boxes of records into the family's vehicle on Aug. 15 at Page's home, William Landske asked to speak privately with Page.
Page put down documents he carried and walked away with William Landske, records state.
Boisson said she heard “a firework go off,” records state. Page's husband, Kevin Swanson, said he turned around and saw Landske fire several shots at Page, records state.
Gonzales said, "Bill Landske put his left arm around Judge Page, took the revolver out of his pocket and pointed it toward (Page's stomach) and pulled the trigger."
Swanson ran toward Landske and pushed him to the ground. The gun fell from Landske's hand, records state.
Shot four times, victim dies instantly
Swanson, a surgical technician, told police he rolled his husband over and knew "he was gone."
“I was hoping they were all going to be peripheral,” he told police of the gunshot wounds. “It was right in the heart.”
A forensic pathologist determined Page was shot four times. A shot to the upper abdomen killed him immediately, records state.
Swanson told authorities Page never charged the Landskes for work. William Landske owned a golf cart company, and he once gave Page a golf cart. He said Page and Sue Landske were best friends who went to the Republican National Convention together. Page also eulogized the suspect's wife at her funeral three years ago.
Landske concealed the gun in his pocket, records state. The sisters said the gun belonged to their father, and his ownership of the weapon concerned them. Basilotta said her father carried it with him everywhere, and he claimed he had a concealed carry permit issued in the 1970s.
Suspect details actions in police report
William Landske told police in a lengthy statement he was frustrated with Page, the family's tax attorney for 30 years, because he did not do work on his wife's taxes. He claimed Page procrastinated.
So Landske put his arm around Page, told him he wanted to talk and withdrew his pistol, records state.
“I put it up to his stomach,” Landske said. “The first shot was deafening, and I think I shot him two more times, three times total — I'm not sure — and then he fell to the ground.”
He said seeing all the documents that day sent him “over the deep end.”
He admitted he had never seen Page with a weapon. He said he had no reason to believe he was in trouble with Lake County or the Internal Revenue Service because of late taxes.
Pressed by police on why he did it, Landske said it was a “spur of the moment thing,” records state.
He admitted he knew the gunshots likely were fatal.
“I don't know if I intended to kill him, but what else happens when you shoot somebody,” he said. “They die.”
Landske was in custody Friday. He is not afforded bond.
Gonzales said he knew Page, and he remains perplexed about the possible motive. He said that while Landske said he was upset about Page not filing family tax papers quickly enough, neither the IRS nor local government officials were attempting to seize family property over the tax issue.
"It is natural for us to want to know why heinous events like this occur, and sometimes the why cannot be fully answered," Gonzales said at the news conference.
"The reasoning the defendant, Bill Landske, provided me and Sgt. Houck still doesn't answer why he killed Judge Page. The motive still isn't completely clear.
"I can say Bill Landske expressed no remorse for his actions whatsoever, and he knew his actions were wrong at the time he shot and killed Judge Page.
"In my opinion, Bill Landske is a murderous coward who has left Judge Page's family and friends and the Landske family to deal with an emotional path of destruction. He took a very prominent man's life. I won't forget his demeanor and how he spoke in a matter-of-fact way about what he did to Judge Page."
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