He’s a Republican politician and the City of Omaha’s most visible law enforcement official.
Tim Dunning began his career as a small suburban police officer during the early 1970s. Soon afterward, he joined the big-city Omaha Police Department. He worked there for more than 20 years. By 1994, he ran for sheriff of Douglas County (the same county where Omaha’s located) and he defeated the incumbent sheriff.
And Tim Dunning’s remained the sheriff of Douglas County ever since. Dunning, now in his mid sixties, is a tough, no-nonsense and a refreshingly blunt politician.
As a former journalist in Omaha for nine years, I respected Sheriff Tim Dunning, though we did not always see eye to eye.
Many cops, particularly police chiefs, are extremely sensitive toward any hint of negative press about their agency when they come up short, but Tim Dunning rolled with the punches. He never seemed to let any negative press about himself or his agency bother him.
Back in 2006, Sheriff Dunning was the primary face in front of the news media cameras during the early stages of the Jessica O’Grady murder investigation. Even though the case looked difficult to solve, Sheriff Dunning did not back down. He set very high standards for the detectives, deputies and crime lab personnel who worked for him.
As I finished writing BODY OF PROOF, I reached out to Sheriff Dunning. We probably had not spoken for more than two years. After all, I left Omaha in late 2012 to become an investigative journalist for The Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Sheriff Dunning was an extremely valuable asset as I finished the book and he’s mentioned in the Acknowledgments. He answered all of my key questions. And, for questions he didn’t know the immediate answer, he sought out the correct information from one of his experienced investigators on the case. All of Sheriff Dunning’s material is covered in great detail throughout BODY OF PROOF.
Dunning reveals in the book why he remains firmly convinced that an accomplice helped hide the victim’s body. “No one can possibly believe that 125-pound Christopher Edwards picked up 135-pound Jessica O’Grady, dead weight no less, and carried her from the residence by himself,” Dunning told me in early June.
Did Jessica’s murderer actually recruit someone else to help conceal her body?
You’ll have to read BODY OF PROOF and then make up your own mind.