WATERLOO, Ill. – The walls inside a home where a woman and her two sons were found strangled to death had been scrawled with expletives and warned of a presence "always watching," the family of the murdered woman said Tuesday.
A judge on Tuesday granted Sheri Coleman's mother and her brother access to the two-story home in Columbia where Coleman, 11-year-old Garett and 9-year-old Gavin were found dead May 5.
Coleman's husband Chris, 32, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and remains held without bond.
Sheri Coleman's name was taken off the home's deed last year and her family questioned whether she knew or was coerced into allowing it, the family's attorney Enrico Mirabelli said.
The woman's mother and brother, Angela DeCicco and Mario Weiss, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Monroe County, which Mirabelli said prevented Chris Coleman from immediately selling the home or its contents.
Many possessions in the home had been boxed up, with some marked "toys," according to Jack Carey, an attorney for the family in the civil lawsuit. No pictures were on the walls, he said.
Carey did not know whether the packing took place before the killings or within days of them, when Coleman's family removed some items in a trailer.
He said there were no signs of violence or struggle, but that someone had written expletives and other messages on the walls in red spray paint.
He said a writing near the kitchen read: "I saw you leave. (Expletive) you. I am always watching."
Mirabelli called the writings "vicious."
Police have not yet announced a motive in the killings.
Mirabelli said the family's legal action Tuesday was the only way to get some of Sheri Coleman's belongings for her mother. Until the judge's order, Chris Coleman's family had access to the home and its contents.
The lawsuit also seeks financial documents about Chris Coleman from Joyce Meyer Ministries, a Fenton, Mo.-based evangelical Christian group for which Coleman worked security until resigning after his arrest, and from Coleman's father, Chester pastor Ronald Coleman.
Any proceeds from the lawsuit, which seeks at least $100,000, would be used to erect a monument to the victims, attorneys said.
Representatives from Joyce Meyer Ministries were "working together with representatives of Sheri Coleman's family and are gathering the information requested," said spokesman Roby Walker.
No one returned a telephone message left Tuesday for Ronald Coleman at Grace Church Ministries.
Bill Margulis, Chris Coleman's attorney, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.