Recently there has been increased media attention on the issue of domestic violence. Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice was caught by a security camera knocking his then-fiancé unconscious. Other NFL cases making the news lately include Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson indicted for child abuse and Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy and New York Jets’ Quincy Enunwa arrested for domestic violence.
As the local domestic violence and sexual assault center, Hope House knows all too well that domestic violence happens year round, and it happens in our communities. From October 2013 to September 2014, we provided support and resources during over 3,800 calls to our helpline. Individuals and families stayed in our shelter for 5,332 nights. We provided counseling and advocacy to 1,141 survivors of domestic violence, and just this year, we’ve helped 421 survivors of sexual assault. We know many more survivors are suffering in silence.
The benefit of the NFL cases in the national spotlight is that more people are talking about domestic violence. NFL players themselves are speaking out. Green Bay Packers’ Clay Matthews spoke at a news conference on preventing domestic violence, and Jordy Nelson has been featured in a domestic violence PSA. Pittsburgh Steelers’ William Gay shared his story of his stepdad killing his mom. Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson introduced the “Pass the Peace” campaign to raise funds for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Before the Ravens-Steelers game, CBS Sportscaster James Brown gave a speech on men getting involved with preventing domestic violence.
Others are speaking out on social media. After people questioned why Janay married Ray Rice after the assault, many survivors came forward with their stories on Twitter with #WhyIStayed. Survivors shared the many barriers that kept them in abusive relationships, including lack of finances, fear their kids will get hurt or taken away, lack of support from others, being told it’s a sin to leave, loving the partner and believing they will change, and fear they will get hurt worse or killed.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin recently released their 2013 homicide report. They found that 55 people in Wisconsin were killed as a result of domestic violence. Many of these cases were when the victim was leaving or left the relationship. Thus we know that leaving is a dangerous time, which is why safety planning is such a big part of what Hope House offers to survivors.
Another Hope House service is presentations to children and teens. From October 2013 to September 2014, we gave 347 presentations to youth on topics related to healthy and abusive relationships. Since the start of this school year, several students have brought up the Ray Rice case. We need to utilize this teachable moment. We need to role model and educate youth on their rights and responsibilities for respectful, trusting, and supportive relationships.
If you would like resources for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, please check out our new website: www.HopeHouseSCW.org. If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced abuse, please call our 24-hour helpline at 1-800-584-6790.
Jess Kaehny, Community Education Coordinator, Hope House of South Central Wisconsin
"Nicholas Tuinstra was overheard on the phone threatening to kill someone less than three weeks before his estranged wife and her new boyfriend were fatally shot in the Town of Berlin on Saturday, according to a criminal complaint charging Tuinstra with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
The criminal complaint issued Thursday says that around the time his wife, Melissa Tuinstra, moved out of their house last month, a neighbor heard Nicholas Tuinstra say: 'If I find you, I'm going to (expletive) kill you.'
Another neighbor told police Nicholas Tuinstra, 33, was suicidal and had said his wife's new boyfriend, Justin M. Daniels, 'should do him a favor and kill him.'
The homicides occurred two days after Melissa and Nicholas Tuinstra filed for divorce. Both victims were 28 and died from multiple gunshots, all of which were fired from behind.
Melissa's body was found on the sidewalk outside her new apartment in the 200 block of Broadway St. Her boyfriend's body was found inside, lying in the doorway between the apartment and the hall.
A landlord told investigators the Tuinstras' 8-year-old daughter lived at the apartment, prompting law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert early Sunday. The girl was found unharmed and with her father in northeast Marquette County later that day.
The girl was with her paternal grandparents the night her mother was killed, police said.
Police initially questioned Nicholas Tuinstra on Sunday. At that time, he denied going to the apartment the previous evening.
'Tuinstra said he took some sleeping pills, fell asleep, and had a bad dream,' the complaint says. 'He said he was worried for Melissa and called her because he saw something bad, like a ruckus, happen to her in the dream.'
After making that statement, Tuinstra was released from police custody.
On Tuesday, he spoke with investigators again. This time, he told them he walked the eight blocks from his house to the apartment, entered the back door and walked up the back stairs.
He and Melissa were talking in the hallway when 'he heard something that he thought was a gun being cocked from inside the apartment, and Nicholas said he didn't know what Justin was capable of,' the complaint says.
While searching Nicholas Tuinstra's house, police found an empty box for a Beretta 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Shell casings from the same type of weapon were found at the homicide scene.
Nicholas Tuinstra told police he had gotten the gun for Melissa, who was afraid to be alone when Daniels worked late.
Police have not found the gun, the complaint says. Along with the empty box, two handguns and a rifle were found at Nicholas Tuinstra's home.
The charges against Tuinstra come just days after the advocacy group End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin issued its annual report detailing the 39 victims of fatal domestic violence in the state in 2013. That year, firearms were used in 51% of Wisconsin's domestic violence homicides."
Read the full article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"Melissa Jane Tuinstra, age 28, of Berlin, died on Sunday, September 28, 2014.
She was born October 17, 1985 in Appleton. Melissa was a Nurse's Aide at Brown-Wilcox Retirement Home and was looking forward to starting a new life in nursing. She was a member of St. John Lutheran Church.
She is survived by her husband, Nicholas Tuinstra; daughter, Ralene Tuinstra; mother, Ronda Langer; brother, David Royston; sister, Jessica Georgeson; grandmother, Raona O'Kon; uncle, Richard (Karrie) O'Kon; and many other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her 'Dad', Robert Georgeson...Online condolences may be sent to the family at email@example.com." Read more here.
Justin Michael Daniels, age 28, of Berlin, died tragically on Sunday, September 28, 2014.
He was born May 13, 1986 in Berlin. Justin was a construction worker and treasured spending time with his nieces and nephews. He loved fishing, swimming, camping and being outdoors. Justin was a very giving person who would do anything for his family without ever wanting to ask for anything back from them. He enjoyed making people smile.
He is survived by his mother and father, Terry (Dan) Gallego and Ronald Daniels; four brothers and sisters, Jamie Daniels, Tiffany (Mike) Birkrem, Trisha Daniels (Eli Wessel) and Joshua Daniels; uncle, Scott Schrock; and special friends, Dennis Clark and Josh Niles. Justin will be missed by loved ones Michael Thorson, Stacy Schrock and many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by grandparents, Leonard and Saima Schrock and Kenneth Daniels.
Funeral services will be held Friday, October 3, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at Barbola Funeral Chapel in Berlin, the Rev. Laura Hawkins officiating. Interment will be in Foster Road Cemetery. Friends and relatives may call on Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Barbola Funeral Chapel.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org." Read more here.
A former Wyocena man was arrested Thursday afternoon and faces a homicide charge in the April 2013 death of his girlfriend at their Wyocena home.
Patrick Kraemer, 46, was taken into custody in Madison by an agent with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Kraember is the suspect in the death of Traci Rataczak of Wyocena, who died April 6, 2013, at the home she shared with Kraemer.
A charge of first-degree intentional homicide as domestic abuse was filed Thursday afternoon in Columbia county Circuit Court. The charge carries a penalty of life in prison.
Kraemer is expected to appear Monday in court on the charge.
A possible motive, hinted at in a criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon, was the Rataczak spoke with friends about leaving her relationship with Kraemer prior to her death. Witnesses referred to violent or abusive arguments between the couple.
Anyone with information on the case should contact Det. Sgt. Greg Bisch at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office at 608-742-4166 x3315.
Callers may also call Columbia County Crime Stoppers at 800-293-8477; tips can be submitted via email or text by visiting www.co.columbia.wi.us or by texting the word "CRIMES" (274637) with the keyword "TIPCOSO." Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain annonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward.
Click here to read more.
Traci Lynn Rataczak, 43, died on Monday, April 8, 2013, in her home. She was born on Dec. 2, 1969, in Portage to Lawrence and Bonnie Kranz Rataczak.
Traci had a large heart for everyone around her. She loved to create memories through the many photos that she took and enjoyed cooking and making meals out of nothing. Traci loved animals, and had an especially huge heart for her dog, Mugsey. She enjoyed being outdoors, walking and yard work, and her greatest accomplishment was raising her three children, who she was always proud of.
Survivors include her children, Rex Griepentrog, Jamie (friend Brandon Herman) Griepentrog and Michael Griepentrog, all of Pardeeville; special friend Patrick Kraemer of Wyocena; loving father of her children, Mike Griepentrog of Pardeeville; father, Lawrence (Kay) Rataczak of Endeavor; mother, Bonnie (Mickey) McMahon of Wisconsin Dells; siblings, Lisa Procknow of Adams, Tammy (Carey) John of Montello, Tonia (Ron Rothweil) Rataczak of St. Louis, Kenny Cross of Rio, Shane McMahon of Wisconsin Dells, Cheyenne McMahon of Wisconsin Dells, Myron (Lynn) McMahon of Waterloo, Sonya Jessburger of Waterloo and Kelly McMahon of Dulwitchhill, Australia. She was preceded in death by grandparents Doris and Carl Kranz and Russ and Arlene Rataczak and stepsisters Monica, Lisa and Kimberly McMahon.
A woman told police before she died that she had been attacked by her brother-in-law, a newly retired Wisconsin sheriff's deputy suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, according to new court documents.
Andy Steele, a former Dane County Sheriff's deputy, was arrested after the attack at his home Friday that left his wife, Ashlee Steele, and her sister, Kacee Tollefsbol, dead. He hasn't been charged yet, but according to investigators, Tollefsbol implicated him as her assailant twice before she died at the University of Wisconsin hospital in Madison.
Much about the attack, including what precipitated it, remains unclear. Before her death, Ashlee Steele was credited with spearheading a drive to raise thousands of dollars toward Andy Steele's medical care and other expenses. But a police affidavit released Tuesday offered new details about the immediate aftermath of the shootings.
According to the affidavit, Tollefsbol, 38, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, called 911 at around 1 p.m. Friday from her sister's home in Fitchburg, a Madison suburb of about 26,000 residents. She said her brother-in-law had shot her in the back and she thought he must have shot himself because she heard two shots.
Officers found her in the basement, where she again said her brother-in-law had shot her. She died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Members of a sheriff's department SWAT team found 39-year-old Ashlee Steele dead in the home. She had been shot in the head. They found Andrew Steele in a laundry room and a 9 mm pistol on the counter.
The affidavit said two rounds had been fired in the house. Andrew Steele hadn't been shot, but police said he was treated at a hospital for injuries consistent with a suicide attempt.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney has said that Andrew Steele, a 15-year deputy, resigned in June after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS attacks nerve cells and can lead to paralysis and death. The average life expectancy is two to five years after diagnosis.
His family was trying to raise $75,000 for his medical care and other expenses. Ashlee Steele's Facebook page contains several videos of her husband's law enforcement colleagues taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in his honor.
According to the sister's obituaries, Kacee Tollefsbol was studying to be a nurse and held a degree in English from the University of St. Thomas. A mother of four, she had just married Mark Tollefsbol a month before she died. Ashlee Steele, a mother of two, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught three-year-olds at a church preschool.
Their grandmother died the same day they were killed, the obituaries said.
Steele, Ashlee Christen (Putnam) Died unexpectedly on Friday, August 22, 2014 in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, along with her cherished sister Kacee (Putnam) Tollefsbol. Ashlee was born January 24, 1975 in Laguna Hills, California. Growing up she lived in California, Michigan, and Minnesota. Ashlee was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was a gentle, fun, and deeply appreciated 3s teacher at Christ Memorial Preschool. She had boundless love for children, including her students, many nieces and nephews, and most especially the son and daughter to whom she was fiercely devoted. Ashlee delighted in being part of a big family and took her role as the oldest of four siblings semi-seriously - she projected authority when necessary but was too cheerful and witty to be serious for long. She approached challenges with confident determination and was beautiful inside and out. Ashlee is survived by her children Jack (turning 13 this week) and Rachael (10); husband Andrew Steele of Fitchburg; parents Mike and Diane (DuPuis) Putnam of Stillwater; brother Brad (Rachelle) Putnam; sister Hailee (Steven) Meisterling; grandmother Joan DuPuis; and many other adoring family members and friends. Grandmother Norma Putnam died recently in Wisconsin Rapids, coincidentally also on August 22. A celebration of Ashlee and Kacee's life will be Friday, 2:00 P.M. at CHURCH OF ST. MICHAEL, 611 South Third Street Stillwater. Family will receive friends following the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ashlee Steele Memorial Fund, for the benefit of her children. Call or visit any Wells Fargo branch and refer to account # 658 421 6003. Bradshaw 2800 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater 651-439-5511.
JANESVILLE - A Janesville woman shot and killed herself after an argument with her husband, during which she stabbed him and herself, Janesville police reported.
Police found Hollie Rowan, 31, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 1618 Mole Ave. after her husband, Carl Rowan, left the home, police said in a news release.
Carl Rowan, 32, is a Wisconsin State trooper, police said.
Janesville police made the announcement during a 1pm news conference Wednesday regarding the incident.
Hollie M. Rowan, age 31, of Janesville, died on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, at home. She was born in Medford, on Sept. 22, 1982, the daughter of James and Deborah (Koenig) Judnic. She attended Rib Lake schools and worked at Rib Lake nursing home during high school and the Medford nursing home after graduation. She married Carl F. Rowan on July 5, 2006, in Lake Geneva, and moved to Janesville, in 2006. Hollie was a volunteer at Franklin Middle School PTSA, of which she was scheduled to be Vice President this coming year, and was the Reflections Coordinator. She was also active in the Cub Scouts at Washington Elementary School. She loved horses, flowers, gardening, riding motorcycles, cooking, decorating, and remodeling. Her children and family were her life.
Hollie is survived by her husband, Carl F. Rowan; two children, Devin and Bella, both at home; parents, James and Deborah Judnic of Medford; two brothers, Jason (fiance Debbra Cobb) Judnic of Chippewa Falls, and Jeremy (Veronica) Judnic of Kaukauna; nephew, Justice Judnic; parental grandmother, Marcelle Judnic of Medford; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her grandfather, Clarence Judnic; and maternal grandparents, Richard and Ruth Koenig.
MILWAUKEE (WITI) - A fundraiser, with the goal of raising awareness of domestic violence, has been planned for Saturday, June 28th, in honor of 60-year-old Barbara Killebrew.
The "No More Pain" event is planned for 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Redemption Fellowship Church on 26th and Keefe.
All money collected will go to the Barbara Killebrew Memorial Fund.
Police say Killebrew was stabbed to death on Tuesday evening, June 24th near 24th Place and Melvina.
Police say a 52-year-old Milwaukee man is in custody - Killebrew's boyfriend.
Police were called to the scene around 5:30 p.m. for a domestic incident. When they arrived they found a woman who died as a result of multiple stab wounds.
Neighbors say it's been a violent summer so far in this area, and this is yet another blow.
FOX6 News has learned the victim in this case had just recently spoken out against the recent violence in her neighborhood.
Neighbors identify her as Barbara Killebrew.
They say she had a restraining order against her former boyfriend - but no one knew where to find him to serve him the papers.
Now, he's accused of killing her.
"I came home and my son said the woman down the street has been looking for me and wanted me to pray with her and I feel so bad because I wasn't there. Maybe she would have confided in me. Maybe she would have talked to me," a neighbor said.
We're told Killebrew was active in her church - playing the tambourine on Sundays. She was an assistant school teacher, and a recent breast cancer survivor.
"She was a woman of God. She loved the Lord. She loved people. She was very concerned about her community," the neighbor said.
It was earlier in June when Killebrew came to a gathering in her neighborhood - speaking out against the violence after three shootings occurred near her block.
Barbara Killebrew spoke with FOX6 News, and her words would tragically be propheetic.
"I'd like to tell those young men that they go to put those guns down because it could be one of their family members that's dying or getting shot," Killebrew said.
"She did not deserve to die like that and I don't know what type of spirit is over Milwaukee but it just seems like it's violence everywhere," Killebrew's neighbor said.
Killebrew's family is now grieving that a woman so concerned about recent violence towards others would become the very next victim.
"I want the community to know that she helped people. She was an assistant school teacher. She was a woman of God. She tried to do the best that she can," Killebrew's neighbor said.
Police say the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office is reviewing this case for charges.
Meanwhile Killebrew's daughter tells FOX6 News a fund has been established in Killebrew's honor. Donations can be made at any Chase Bank branch.
BELOIT, Wis. (AP) - A 47-year-old woman is dead after being hit and killed by a man fleeing officers, in what Beloit police are calling domestic violence.
According to a police department news release, officers went to a Beloit home at 7:40pm Sunday on an unwanted person complaint, where they found Sheila Rosenbaum and a 40-year-old man.
Officers attempted to arrest the man but he allegedly got away, jumped in a vehicle and hit Rosenbaum. The officers attempted lifesaving efforts, according to the release, but she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Police say officers fired at the vehicle and the suspect crashed a short distance away.
The man tried to run again but officers caught him in a backyard, police said. Officers found he had a gunshot wound and was taken to a hospital for treatment. In an email Sunday, Capt. Dan Risse said he did not have an update on his condition.
On Sunday, Risse said the two had a relationship at some point, but he didn't know the current status.
"This incident is further proof domestic violence is as disturbing to a community as gang violence associated to drugs or weapons," he said in the email.
A state law recently went into effect requiring an outside investigator to run officer-involved death investigations. The police department said it has asked the state Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation to look into the shooting.
The officers involved had been reassigned to administrative duty, which is normal protocol after an officer-involved shooting, according to police.
MILWAUKEE (AP) - A 76-year-old Milwaukee County man has told investigators he shot his blind wife of 56 years because she'd been nagging him for three weeks.
Prosecutors charged Jack Lang of Oak Creek with first-degree intentional homicide Thursday.
Authorities say Lang called 911 on Wednesday to say he'd just shot his wife in the face. Police found June Lang dead near the bed.
Jack Lang told investigators she nagged him and wouldn't shut up, and even though he loved her he'd had enough. He says she criticized him for not being able to help as much with housework.
He says he got his .22 caliber gun and warned her he was holding it inches from her head but she didn't believe him.
Online court records didn't immediately list a defense attorney.
Lang, June M. Born to Eternal Life on Wednesday, April 16, 2014. Age 75 years. Beloved wife for 55 years of Jack R. Lang. Cherished mother of Philip (Annette) Lang, Cheryl (Joe) Kinares. Loving grandmother of Hillary Lang, Christopher Lang and Raney Clapp. Dear sister of Daniel (Shannon) Schacht, Joanne (Glen) Helwer, and the late Nancy (the late Melvin) Waechs. Further survived by nieces, nephews, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, other family members and friends. Visitation THURSDAY, April 24, 2014, from 11AM-2PM at ST. JOHN EV. LUTHERAN CHURCH, 6700 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek. Funeral Services at 2PM. June worked for over 15 years as a real state agent for GMAC. She was a longtime and active member of St. John Ev. Lutheran Church. If desired, memorials may be made to the church or Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A steelworker from Massachusetts has been charged in the fatal shooting of a Mazomanie woman in February.
Online court records show 39-year-old Phillip Byrd was charged Thursday in the death of 43-year-old Cheryl Gilberg. Investigators found Gilberg's body in her home. She had been shot in the head.
Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney said previously that he believed the shooting was a result of domestic abuse.
Investigators say Byrd is Gilberg's former boyfriend. He has been held since Feb. 24 in the Rock County jail on charges of failing to pay child support.
Investigators previously described Byrd as a Janesville resident. They said Thursday he was arrested in that city. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
Cheryl, age 43, is survived by her husband and 2 children along with her mother, a brother, sister, and other family members. She died February 23rd.
CRAWFORD COUNTY, Wis. (KWWL) - Deputies are confirming a murder-suicide between a husband and a wife in rural Clayton Township, Wis., and say it's possible the motive was bad news regarding the wife's health.
Robert J. Reagan, 70, is alleged to have entered the bedroom of Karen M. Reagan, 68, on Monday when she was in bed and killed her with a single gunshot to her head, the Crawford County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
Crawford County Sheriff Dale McCullick says they don't know if Karen Reagan was asleep or not at the time of her murder.
Robert Reagan is then alleged to have walked out to his driveway and killed himself with a single self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Deputies believe Reagan used the same .357 caliber revolver for both crimes but haven't completed ballistics testing, said McCullick.
McCullick said one possible motive for the crime was "some troubling news" regarding Karen Reagan's health.
McCullick said friends and family of the couple say the Reagans just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and said the couple had a "loving" and "good" relationship.
Karen Reagan, 68, of Soldiers Grove, Wis. passed away on Monday March 10, 2014 at her home.
She was born in Milwaukee on Jan 6. 1946 to Earl and Lorraine (Becker) Meyer. She married Robert Reagan on July 7, 1963 in Milwaukee. She worked at numerous restaurants over the years. Most recently she has been working at Kickapoo Corners in Readstown. She collected Chinese pottery and loved to play computer games. She also loved to knit and plant gardens.
She is survived by her son Robert (Heather) of Manitowoc, Wis.; 5 grandchildren: Alexander of Madison, Jennifer of Oregon, Eric of Manitowoc, Jared of Wisconsin Rapids, and Brandon of Wisconsin Rapids; 2 sisters: Betty Meyer of Germantown, Wis., and Lois (Mike) Seefeldt of Oconto, Wis.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Robert Reagan, 70, of Soldiers Grove, Wis. passed away on Monday, March 10, 2014 at his home.
He was born on July, 1943 in Milwaukee to Donald and Bernice (Fish) Reagan. He married Karen Meyer on July 7, 1963 in Milwaukee. He worked for auto body shops in Milwaukee and in the Soldiers Grove area for many years. Eventually he operated his own body shop. He collected taxidermy, and loved to ride Harley Davidson motorcyles.
He is survived by his son: Robert (Heather) Reagan of Manitowoc, Wis.; 5 grandchildren: Alexander of Madison, Jennifer of Oregon, Wis., Eric of Manitowoc, Jared of Wisconsin Rapids, and Brandon of Wisconsin Rapids; and his sister Mary (Paul) Libert of Muskego, Wis.
He was preceded in death by his parents, 1 brother Ronald, and 1 sister Kathleen.