Long before Glynn County Police Lt. Robert C. Sasser’s final rampage ended in the shooting death of his estranged spouse and her male friend, his potential for violence struck terror in his wife’s family.
On May 14, the day after a domestic incident in which Lt. Sasser tried to kick in her door, Katie Kettles Sasser gave a police investigator conflicting answers about the threat he posed to her, according to records released by the Glynn County Police Department Friday.
She said both “yes and no” when asked if she was scared of her husband, whom she had separated from three months earlier and she was planning to divorce in large part because of his severe mental problems linked to a 2010 on-duty fatal shooting of Caroline Small.
But there was one person, according to records, that was terrified of Sasser and his potential for harming his wife.
“Her mother was very scared of Mr. Sasser doing something stupid,” the investigator wrote.
Within weeks, those fears would be realized.
Katie Sasser’s mother frantically called 911 the night of June 28 to alert police to the danger the officer posed to her family, according to police recordings first reported by News 4 in Jacksonville.
The mother said she’d heard Sasser had killed her daughter’s boyfriend, John Hall Jr., and she feared for her own safety.
“I have just heard that someone has been hurt very badly and we are feared for our lives,” she said, according to News 4, which did not publish the mother’s name. “I’ve heard that John, this guy named John, was killed. … And Cory Sasser killed him, and he may be on the way here. He has threatened to hurt us before.”
At the time of the 911 call, she did not know the whereabouts of her daughter, but she feared she was in danger. The mother is crying on the call and she urges police in Glynn County to get to her residence as well as her daughter’s.
She had not spoken to her daughter and didn’t know if she was alright.
Sasser shot and killed his estranged wife inside Hall’s home near the coastal Georgia town of Darien, in neighboring McIntosh County. The officer then tried to evade police before leading them on a low-speed chase to his home in Glynn County. During a SWAT standoff at the home, he killed himself with a gunshot inside his truck.
The documents released Friday reveal that problems started long before the May 13 episode.
Sasser’s wife told police investigators he’d been in counseling in recent months. He was suffering from extreme depression and extreme Post Traumatic Stress Disorder linked to the 2010 shooting of Small.
Sasser and another officer, Michael T. Simpson, killed the unarmed mother of two after a low-speed chase. Her car was hemmed in by several patrol vehicles and a utility poll when the officers sprayed her windshield with bullets.
“Mrs. Sasser said this was a major reason why they separated,” according to the investigator who interviewed her May 14.
She recounted an episode three months before when she was concerned he was suicidal after she told him she was moving out. He drove off in his truck with a loaded gun and several police officers and friends looked for him all night, the records show. She did not called police or reported the incident because she did not want him to lose his job.
A closing line in the notes by victim liaison Nikki Spannut said: “All guns need to be secured.”
The department released body cam footage from the May 13 incident on Friday. It shows Sasser angry and in a fury over his wife being at her house with Hall. At one point, he seems to lunge toward her as she stands at the front door talking to officers and asking why they weren’t arresting him for trying to kick in his door.
“So are we doing this because he’s a lieutenant of the Glynn County Police Department?” she says to the officer who answered the call.
Katie Sasser told the investigator the next day that her estranged husband had shown up at her home unannounced. She told the investigator he had been outside the house for 30 minutes. He had been beating and kicking on the door after he saw her inside, kissing Hall on the couch.
The next day, however, she seemed reluctant to talk to the investigator and expressed concern that she didn’t want Sasser to lose his job at the police department.
She told the investigator she planned to file for divorce in three days. When the investigator told her he was concerned for her safety, she replied that “she was worried and had plans to leave town on Friday after he was notified of the divorce.”
A memorial service is set for Katie Sasser on Saturday in Brunswick.
“She was a loving mother, daughter and friend to all,” her obituary said. “She will be missed by all who knew her.”
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