Police have arrested a Cheyenne man in Denver after he allegedly strangled, beat and smothered his wife for not doing household chores in their home on the F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Gist has charged Jonathan Michael Lee Wandel with two counts of strangulation of a household member, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
The allegations stem from June and April incidents, according to an evidentiary affidavit FBI Special Agent Zachary S. Burgett filed in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming last week.
Wandel’s wife is an Air Force member, while Wandel is a civilian with past military history, the affidavit says.
Washing The Dishes
Wandel and his wife gave different accounts to investigators of what happened the evening of June 8.
The wife told an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent that she and her husband got into an argument in their home at about 7 p.m. that evening because she asked him to wash the dishes.
“F*** off,” Wandel told the woman, according to her interview. He was playing video games.
She started doing the dishes.
“Look, she’s finally doing something for once,” Wandel allegedly said.
Then they started arguing.
Wandel grabbed her by the neck, wrapped his legs around her and forced her to the ground, the affidavit claims. It says she fell to her back while he still held her neck and was on the ground for about two minutes with Wandel on top of her.
The woman told her husband she wasn’t going to be submissive anymore, and he got angrier, the affidavit alleges, squeezing her throat for about two seconds and hindering her ability to breathe.
Put It Away
The next thing she remembered, she was folding laundry upstairs.
Wandel came upstairs and noticed she wasn’t putting his laundry away, the affidavit claims, and he got upset and told her she needed to do her womanly duties.
She told him he needed to leave or she’d call her supervisor. He didn’t leave, but allegedly grabbed her neck with both hands so that she could breathe some but couldn’t speak, then let her go.
She called her supervisor, but wasn’t ready to tell her supervisor what had happened. She instead asked questions about how her work schedule might be adjusted if her living arrangements were to change.
Then she started folding clothes again.
The Open Window
She heard Wandel pacing upstairs and heard him say, “I’m going to stab you in the f***ing face,” the affidavit alleges.
The woman told law enforcement later that she thought he was going to kill her.
Wandel came into the room and forced her onto the bed, got on top of her and put his hand on her throat for about a minute, the affidavit claims.
As soon as he eased up, she screamed for help out of the open window. Wandel allegedly smothered her mouth and nose with his hands, saying ,“You need to shut the f*** up.”
She tried to get her cellphone to call for help and they fought over the phone, the affidavit says. Wandel allegedly headbutted her with his forehead.
She got her cellphone free and called for help. Air Force Security Forces arrived and detained Wandel in the back yard.
These Accounts Diverge
The woman reported memory loss, a headache, bruising, ear pain and sore throat that evening. She told the investigator Wandel had abused her more than 20 times and most instances included strangulation.
She came home from going out with her friends April 3, the affidavit says, and Wandel had locked her out of the house.
He called her a whore and strangled her up against her car, allegedly, causing her to lose consciousness. She had bruises on her neck the next day, the affidavit says.
Wandel in a June 21 telephone interview with the case investigator gave a different account.
His wife came home that April morning at 4:30, he said, and he was angry because she’d turned off location monitoring on her cellphone. He worried she was cheating, and he locked her out of the house.
When she came home she pounded on the locked door, he said, and he opened it then shut it in her face. She shouted at him to open the door.
He opened it, went into the garage and grabbed her by the throat for about three seconds, the affidavit claims from his account. Wandel didn’t know if she’d actually lost consciousness then or if she was faking it, he reportedly told police.
The affidavit says when she didn’t respond, he picked her up and carried her into the house, still unconscious. She eventually woke up and went to bed. The next day she told him his conduct was not acceptable.
“He knew she took photos of bruises and red marks on her neck following the incident,” the affidavit says.
But in Wandel’s account, the June and April incidents were the only times he had altercations with his wife, the affidavit says.
Wedding Ring Flung
Wandel also gave a different version of the June incident.
He said he suffers from anger issues and had stopped seeing value in his wife. They started arguing at about 5:30 that evening because refused to do the dishes and called her a b*** for refusing to do his laundry, the affidavit says.
Wandel sat on the couch downstairs, and when she came downstairs again he reportedly grabbed her by the shoulders and told her to stop arguing with him. When she tried to walk away he wrapped his arms and legs around her from behind then kicked her knee out from underneath her and fell backward, bringing her down onto the floor, the affidavit says.
Her eyes went black — “blacked out from anger” — Wandel told the investigator, and she pushed him and stood up. She went back upstairs and threw his laundry into the spare bedroom.
Wandel picked up their child, saying he would take the child and leave, the affidavit says.
The woman threatened to call police.
By 6:30 p.m., Wandel asked his wife to fold his laundry and she told him no, the affidavit says.
He took his wedding ring off, threw it at her and started throwing laundry on the floor.
The wife became upset and threatened to call her supervisor, saying she’d get Wandel barred from the Air Force base if he didn’t leave, says the affidavit.
The document says she opened a bedroom window and said she’d scream for help if Wandel didn’t leave. In frustration, he allegedly grabbed her by the shoulders and commanded her to stop arguing, then struck the bedroom wall with his hand and told her she made him want to stab himself in the chest and stab her in the face.
He walked up to her, the affidavit says, and started to wrestle with her. She screamed “help” out the bedroom window.
Wandel grabbed her by the throat and jaw with his right hands to get her to stop yelling for help, the affidavit relates from his interview, and she clawed and kicked at him and hit his thumb, leaving claw marks and marks on his neck.
Wandel worried he wouldn’t be able to golf anymore if his thumb was broken, he told the investigator.
He went to the garage to get a golf club to practice his swing, the affidavit says, but his wife was scared because she thought he was about to hit her with the club.
What She Heard
Police also interviewed a witness in the case.
The witness, a female identified as M.S., was out walking her dog with her mom that evening when she heard a woman scream for help from an open window in the second floor of Wandel’s home.
M.S. saw the open window snap shut. She went to the front door and heard a thud, then a male’s voice saying something, and a woman screaming and crying, the affidavit says.
M.S. called Air Force Security Forces, then waited across the street.
Security Forces arrived, knocked on the front door and a crying woman emerged from the home, M.S. later told police. M.S. then circled around and saw a man in the back yard.
This Month Though
Gist charged Wandel on July 14. That same day the prosecutor asked the court to seal the case because Wandel was not yet in police custody.
The court record doesn’t indicate how or if Wandel fled, but shows a court-issued warrant from July 14 and a subsequent arrest in Denver July 16.
The case is ongoing.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.