Mom’s credit tracking device she installed on her daughter’s car to find her killer
Wendy Poulsen wanted ‘a bit of peace of mind’ when she installed a tracking device in the trunk of her 18-year-old daughter’s car, but she never imagined it would ultimately help catch the murderer of her daughter.
Poulsen’s adopted daughter, Dani, was found dead in her car on September 1, 2019 from a fentanyl overdose, according to The New York Post.
While Poulsen’s tragic death devastated, data gathered from the tracking device may have led Minnesota investigators to Dani’s drug dealer, Calvonzo Burnett – a man who was also ultimately held responsible for selling an amount of fentanyl to another teenager, Jordan Knudson, who died in December 2019.
Toxicology reports showed that at the time of Dani’s death she had Xanax, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl in her system, according to The Minneapolis Star Stand.
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Although the local paper never mentions Dani by name, the details of his death match those provided to the Post by Poulsen.
Investigators discovered phone records between Dani and Burnett that showed the couple exchanged 79 calls between August 26 and August 31, including a message on August 29 asking for cocaine and Xanax.
“I got it all figured out,” Burnett reportedly replied.
Burnett was arrested the following February and pleaded guilty in October 2020 to two counts of third-degree murder for both deaths. As part of a plea deal, she received a five-year sentence for each count of third-degree murder to be served concurrently.
During his sentencing, Burnett apologized to Poulson, the Post reported.
“[The apology] was the most healing thing about the whole process,” Poulsen said. “Dani made a choice and he didn’t do it alone, but to make him take some responsibility for [her death] made a difference for me.
The data from the device is credited with helping secure a conviction in both cases.
“The tracker couldn’t help me control Dani’s behavior and I knew it wouldn’t stop him from doing something,” Poulsen told the outlet. “But he showed the most value in the final game.”
Poulsen had installed the 3-inch by 2-inch SafeTrack device less than three months before her daughter’s death, after growing increasingly concerned about her daughter’s behavior.
Poulsen and her now ex-husband Gerald Sommerfeld, 61, adopted Dani from Kazakhstan when she was just six months old, but as the teenager grew older she began to experience feelings of abandonment by her biological parents, reports The Post.
The kid who once had good grades and loved karate and snowboarding started experimenting with marijuana and soon veered into more dangerous substances.
“She had so many hopes and dreams for the future,” Poulsen said. “At first she wanted to be an architect, then she thought of becoming [an agent] at the FBI. »
But Dani’s school work began to deteriorate and she began to lose interest in the sports activities she had once enjoyed. When she was arrested for drunk driving in 2017, her mother became even more concerned and tried to install tracking apps on her daughter’s phone, but Dani – whose new dream was to become a tattoo artist – always deleted them.
This prompted Poulsen to install the tracking device under the carpet in his daughter’s trunk in the summer of 2019, where it went undetected until Dani died.
The weekend Dani died, Poulsen had been staying at a remote family cabin and Dani had promised to watch the family’s five dogs at their Minneapolis home – but Poulsen has not heard from his daughter.
After using the tracking device to find her car in a suburb of the Twin Cities, Poulson asked her daughter-in-law’s husband to go check the vehicle out.
When he did, he found Dani dead in the passenger seat.
“She was everything to me,” Poulsen told the New York Post of the death. “There are times when I don’t know how to go on living.”
In a tragic twist, Dani’s death wasn’t the only loss for Poulsen and his family. Poulsen’s brother, Scott, also mysteriously disappeared in 1991, when he was just 25. His partial remains were discovered two years later by moose hunters in rural Canada, but by then it was too late for investigators to find out how Scott had died.