‘Ripple effect’: Carjacking, then husband’s death


GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — She was the victim of a carjacking a month ago — part of a crime spree that led to three arrests.

But Jo Anne Clemens said what they did to her that day had a ripple effect, leading to the death of her husband three weeks later in a motorcycle crash.

“They say a butterfly can flap its wings on one side of the Earth and the effects of those flaps will eventually be felt on the other side of the Earth,” she said.

The ripple effect in this case: The carjackers destroyed her Chevrolet Impala, leaving her and her husband with just his car and his Harley Davidson.

On Aug. 12, she was scheduled to testify in Montcalm County against one of the alleged carjackers. Her husband Thomas Clemens Jr., 55, insisted she take his car, even though it was raining and he preferred not to ride his Harley in the rain.

“That’s what put him on that road at that time of morning, on a motorcycle, instead of in a car,” Jo Anne Clemens said.

That morning before she left for court, Michigan State Police troopers knocked on her door. They told her that a car had pulled in front of her husband’s motorcycle on rain-slicked 17 Mile Road near Sparta, killing him on his way to work.

The court hearing was postponed.

“He was my husband, he was my children’s father and my grandchildren’s grandfather, and he had a lot to live for,” Clemens said.

It all started on July 20. Jo Anne Clemens went to the Greenville Meijer to pick up a few things for her granddaughter’s high school graduation party. That’s when a woman, later identified as 20-year-old Kimberly Wonsey, asked for a ride.

Moments later, two men — identified as Daniel Leussenkamp Jr., 25, and Kevin Seely, 25, — forced their way into her 2006 Chevrolet Impala. She said Leussenkamp held a screwdriver to her neck and threatened to kill her.

They had already stabbed a man at a Wyoming motel and were on the run, according to police.

Police say the three forced Clemens to drive to a nearby park, then let her go before taking off in her car across state, robbing and assaulting another woman.

“I told them, ‘You want the car, I don’t care, you can have the car,’” Clemens said. “But I wouldn’t have guessed back then that the ripple effect of that would have been his life — that they took my husband’s life when they took my car.”

Thomas Clemens and his wife had been married 31 years, had five children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“There’s nothing that can bring him back, but people need to understand every little thing you do is going to affect somebody in the future, for the good or for the bad,” Jo Anne Clemens said.

His wife said the ripples will continue.

Her husband was supposed to dance with their granddaughter at her wedding next summer to the song, “I Loved Her First.” He was the first to hold her when she was born.

“Her and grandpa had their song picked out, and she won’t ever get that dance,” Clemens said. “She’ll never get that dance with her grandfather. “

She said her husband was the family’s “bread-winner” but had no life insurance. A fund has been set up for the family.

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Online:

Fund to support Clemens’ family

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