Our lantern will be lit from 4/6/20 to 4/13/20 for Jaylee Conaway, Dominique Roth, Deidra Popanda and Benjamin J. Brich...
Lantern Project: Since October 2013, Hope House has joined with other domestic violence programs around the state by implementing the Lantern Project. For our part in this statewide project, we added to the lamppost in front of Hope House a purple wreath. We will turn on the light for a week every time there is a death related to domestic violence in Wisconsin. We will post information online about the person(s) that was killed. If you drive by our building and see our lamppost on, please reflect on the deadly impact that domestic violence has on our communities. We know the list of stories we post here is incomplete. We strive to learn about and share these stories but know that there are some that we and the media miss. If you see a news story of a death in WI related to domestic violence and don't see it posted here, please feel free to let us know about it here. Thank you.
March 9th, 2020: Jaylee Conaway, Age 15 months
A man accused of beating a 15-month-old Janesville girl who died Monday will be charged with first-degree reckless homicide, police said Tuesday. Steven M. Horan, 30, of Janesville was caring for the girl while the girl’s mother was out, and he had been drinking “throughout the day,” Lt. Charles Aagaard of the police investigations bureau said at a news conference. Horan was the mother’s boyfriend for about three months, Aagaard said. Horan was in a highly emotional state when officers arrived, Aagaard said. Aagaard declined to say what kind of emotion Horan was expressing.
The girl, who reportedly had been on life support at a Rockford, Illinois, hospital, was pronounced dead Monday, police said. Police were called to 526 Eisenhower Ave. on the city’s east side at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Because of incorrect information sent to their squad-car computers, officers thought they were responding to a report of a 51-year-old who had no pulse and was not breathing, Chief Dave Moore said.
Moore said officers usually have a moment to brace themselves in such cases, but in this instance they were not prepared to find a young child who was not breathing, and it was difficult for them. Officers took over CPR from the mother, who had come home to find her daughter not breathing. Moore said the girl was beaten. He called the incident a violent assault. Police have not released the name of the victim or her mother because they have not confirmed that all family members have been notified, Aagaard said after the press conference. Investigators have no information that an instrument of any kind was used in the assault, Aagaard said.
Moore noted this is the fourth homicide since the start of the year in a city where the 10-year average has been one per year. “My hope is this is just an anomaly and we can carry on like this community has for many years,” Moore said. Moore said police will scrutinize the circumstances in all the homicides, looking for commonalities and possible preventive measures, but none has been identified so far. Aagaard said police still were investigating the assault. Horan remained in the Rock County Jail on Tuesday on a $10,000 cash bond. Police said they referred information about Horan, who is the father of two children, to Rock County Child Protective Services “so we can ensure the welfare of the children.”
Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan said in court on Monday that CPS had imposed an order forbidding Horan to have contact with his children. Prosecutors have not yet charged Horan, who is due back in court Monday. Rock County Human Services Director Kate Luster spoke at the press conference, saying she could not confirm or deny any CPS action in any case. Luster called the death rare and very sad. “As the local child-welfare agency, we are heartbroken at this senseless loss and really just extend our condolences and thoughts and prayers to this family and to the officers and others involved in responding to the scene,” Luster said.
Luster stressed that anyone with even a suspicion of child abuse or neglect can report it, and Child Protective Services will intervene when needed to protect children. Speaking in general and not about this case, Luster said social isolation and high stress can increase the risk of child abuse.
As a community, we can think about what might help keep children safe, Luster suggested. “What we know helps prevent abuse is helping parents and families to be as connected as possible socially, helping to reduce stress overall by making sure we have access to affordable housing; good wages; high quality, accessible child care; information and education about child development; supports for parents’ own resilience to help them get their own needs met,” Luster said. Police officer Craig Klementz described the department’s peer support program that was employed with the officers who responded to the scene. The process involves specially designed debriefings and ongoing support. “We’re all monitoring the officers that were involved and making sure that they’re not showing any signs of post-traumatic stress,” Klementz said.
March 10th, 2020: Dominique Roth, Age 34, Deidra Popanda, Age 26
A quadruple stabbing in the Town of Waukesha Tuesday night, March 10 ended with the deaths of two women and the hospitalization of two other women. Police said a man was arrested at the scene.
A call for help led to a gruesome discovery. Neighbors said they were home cooking when they saw their neighbor hiding in the backyard. She told them, “My son-in-law stabbed me!” Officials with the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department said they arrested a man on the scene. In total, four women were stabbed.
On Wednesday, March 11, officials released the names of the victims — Dominique Roth, 34, and Deidre Popanda, 26. The survivors, ages 36 and 62, were recovering from their injuries. “It’s kind of scary seeing crime tape three houses down the street. It’s kind of terrifying,” said Michele Anzivino, a neighbor.
Those living in what is considered a secluded and quiet part of town were shaken by the violence. Authorities remained on the scene Wednesday sorting through evidence. Neighbors said the home is a rental property — and there were never issues there until Tuesday night. “I would have never expected something like this to happen, but it can happen anywhere,” said a neighbor.
Many Wednesday were thinking of a young child who ran for help. “It’s terrifying. I can’t imagine a 10-year-old living through that,” the neighbor said. Sheriff’s officials did not release additional information on the suspect or motive Wednesday.
March 11th, 2020: Benjamin J. Brich, Age 43
A 50-year-old Kewaskum woman is facing charges of first-degree intentional homicide in the March 11 death of her husband Benjamin J. Brich. In a criminal complaint, police say Marie Amdrae Bourget allegedly stabbed her husband after he asked her to move out.
Deputies were called to 4355 County Trunk H in the Town of Kewaskum just after 9:20 a.m. on March 11 for a female subject who was suicidal. While en route, dispatch said that the female subject, who was later identified as Marie A. Bourget, had stabbed her husband and he was possibly deceased at the house. Upon arrival, they found Bourget with self-inflicted wounds but was able to explain to the officers what happened.
“He asked me to move out and I killed him,” Bourget allegedly said. According to the complaint, Bourget told police she found legal paperwork around 3 a.m. the morning of the murder and confronted him when he was waking up because she “had it.” She claimed she was “being hurt emotionally.” Bourget had filed for divorce on January 30. A proposed order was filed by Brich on March 10. He was found dead with the divorce documents near him.
Detectives stated that those documents indicated that the residence where the defendant and victim were residing was paid for by Brich and that he would retain ownership of the residence pursuant to the divorce proceedings. She is due back in Washington County court on May 1. If convicted, Bourget could face life in prison.