The Wayne Kubsch case goes clear back to 1998 when the crimes occurred. Kubsch’s wife, Beth; her ex-husband, Rick Milewski; and their son, Aaron Milewski were found murdered. It was a crime that Susan McClements of Granger never dreamed would change her life forever. She was the jury foreman on Kubsch’s first capital murder trial. After 11 years, she is breaking her silence and speaking out for the first time about the case which required her and her fellow jurors to be sequestered in a downtown South Bend hotel for 15 days, cut off from friends, family and life as they knew it.
“It was totally giving up my life for 15 days. We were in a hotel, no radio or TV, all reading material was monitored. We were basically imprisoned for that 15 days. We felt like when we would see Wayne sitting there in the morning that he had more freedom than we did,” McClements recalled.
McClements’ daughter graduated from Penn High School in June of 2000. The only way she was allowed to attend was with a police escort.
McClements is still haunted to this day by the graphic, bloody, violent pictures of the victims who had been shot, stabbed and bound with duct tape.
“You have the box of evidence, cell phone records, duct tape analysis and the visual pictures. It’s still there. I can still see the pictures in my mind. Those pictures of the victims were horrific and it’s a very difficult thing. I was thinking about it last week and I had a dream about those pictures and things like that. It does continue to play on your mind,” McClements explained. “He didn’t show remorse at all as the evidence was displayed. There was no emotional connection and we thought that seemed really evil.”
As Wayne Kubsch’s name has surfaced and resurfaced in the news throughout the 11 years since McClements served on the jury, it brings it all back for her, including concerns for her own safety.
“I was walking through the room and it came on the news and I stopped and my husbands like, ‘He’s back y’know.’”
McClements said it was especially difficult in 2005 when there was a second trial for Kubsch. That trial was prompted by the fact that the first jury was allowed to view a videotape of Kubsch being interrogated by police.
“That was devastating, almost like it felt like everything we had done had been for nothing,” McClements remembered. “It was frustrating to me to know the little technicality they were looking at was the videotape we saw and knowing, as a juror, that was not a big part of the case. We could have not seen that and they would have still come up with the same thing. That was frustrating to have that happen. I’m a taxpayer. I was frustrated about the amount of money being put into it. Paying for it all over again, it didn’t make sense at all.”
The second jury also recommended the death penalty, reaffirming the decision McClements and her fellow jurors reached five years earlier. But, McClements says she is ready to be done with it now, ready to have the final chapter written. And she says that can only come with the execution by lethal injection of Wayne Kubsch.
“I’ve thought about that and I told my husband after the trial I probably would want to be there if I could, just to see it was over, just to see that he had paid his price for what he had done,” McClements said. “Everyone’s life is precious. He sacrificed three people. He needs to pay for that. The amount that they suffered was so much more than what he’s going to have to suffer.”
But in spite of the impact on her life, McClements says she wouldn’t change a thing about her role as the jury foreman on such a serious case.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to do it. Actually, I think it’s an honor I was selected for that. I just think being part of that process was a life-changing experience I’ll never forget and it’s kind of been a part of who I am today,” McClements adds.