A wrongful-death lawsuit filed against a man charged with murdering his wife and two sons is now seeking to add the ministry of televangelist Joyce Meyer as a defendant.
The proposed amendment to the suit, filed on behalf of the family of the slain mother of two, suggests that May 5 killings of Sheri Coleman and her sons might not have occurred if Joyce Meyer Ministries had followed its own policy and taken action.
“The plaintiffs are informed, and believe, that JMM negligently and carelessly failed to do any of these things,” the suit claims after listing four possible courses of action, including confronting its security manager, Christopher Coleman, “with the fact that JMM knew that he had written and delivered all three threats against his wife and children;” warning Sheri Coleman directly; turning the matter over to one or more police agencies; and immediately dismissing Coleman from employment.
“As a direct or proximate result of one or more of these negligent acts or omissions by JMM, neither Sheri Coleman nor any police agency was properly warned of the danger to Sheri Coleman, Garrett Coleman, and Gavin Coleman; Christopher Coleman was not prevent from carrying out the threats he had written and delivered to JMM; and, instead, Christopher Coleman was able, without hindrance, to murder [his family] in their own home,” it adds.
The latest development comes nearly three months after JMM turned over 400 pages of documents that included Coleman's work timetable, salary, benefits, life insurance information, ministry's employee handbook and airline tickets and schedules on commercial flights and private airline passenger lists from JMM.
Though JMM was initially named a “respondent in discovery” in the case, Sheri Coleman’s family is asking the court to add the ministry as an additional defendant in the case, which will be heard at Monroe County Circuit Court in Waterloo, Mo.
If the family’s motion is granted, they would be seeking at least $50,000 from JMM, in addition to the costs of their suit.
In response to the new filing, JMM insisted that it had “directed that appropriate law enforcement be contacted regarding the threats.”
“The Ministry has cooperated in every respect with law enforcement in the investigation of these crimes," it added, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Previously, the ministry stated that "no reasonable person would suggest that any employer should be responsible for the criminal acts of its employees committed against his or her family outside of work just because that person is an employee."
"Joyce Meyer Ministries had no knowledge prior to these tragic deaths of an extra marital affair involving Chris Coleman. Neither did the Ministry have prior knowledge that Chris Coleman allegedly was the source of threats against his family," responded JMM’s attorney, Michael King, in a prepared statement. "
According to investigators, Coleman had called police from a gym on May 5 and asked a police officer who had investigated prior threats related to the family to check on them after calls to the house allegedly went unanswered.
When police got to the house later that morning, they found the bodies of Coleman’s 31-year-old wife and two children, 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin, all strangled with some type of wire, rope or cord. Spray-painted across the walls of the house, meanwhile, were obscenities that appeared to have been directed at Sheri Coleman, including the words “punished,” “wh*re paid,” “u have paid,” and “I saw you leave, [expletive] you, I am always watching.”
Though it was well-known that the family had received threatening letters and that their mailbox was tampered with, police arrested Coleman around two weeks later after more evidence came forward.
The week before, Coleman had resigned from his position at Joyce Meyer Ministries after being questioned about a violation of the organization's moral conduct policy, according to Roby Walker, a spokesman for Joyce Meyer.
Walker would not say what policy Coleman allegedly violated but reports have alleged that he was romantically involved with a woman from Largo, Fla., and had visited her while traveling with the ministry.
Coleman, who pleaded “not guilty” on May 20, has since remained in jail and denied bond by the judge.