2018 WI Deaths

As of March 10th, 15 Wisconsin lives have been lost to domestic violence homicide in 2018.  That’s one person killed every 4.5 days.   20% of victims were age 18 or under.

January 7th, 2018  Officer Involved Shooting – Sparta

The state’s Department of Criminal Investigation has released the names of the people involved in a deputy-involved shooting in Sparta Sunday.

In a statement, the DCI said that Deputy Jesse Murphy fatally shot 21-year-old Skyler D. Burnette of Sparta.

Sparta Police and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic violence 9-1-1 call Sunday morning around 10 a.m. at a residence at 1005 Saint Anne Street in Sparta.

There authorities found Burnette threatening a woman with a knife. During the incident, Deputy Murphy fired his weapon, fatally wounding Burnette. He died at the scene.

The DCI said in the statement that Burnette was on active supervision at the time of the incident.

Deputy Murphy, who was hired in 2006 by Monroe County, is on paid administrative leave per department policy.

Three Sparta Police officers were on the scene at the time-Sgt. Booker T. Ferguson, Officer Marc Nelson, and Officer Chris Welker.

The DCI statement said they’re still collecting evidence in the incident and plan to turn over their report to the Monroe County District Attorney at the end of their investigation.

January 9th, 2018 Sara Schmidt, Age 38 – Harrison

PREVENT DOMESTIC HOMICIDE: Create law that removes bond option for felony DV/SA charges

Before Robert Schmidt was charged Jan. 4 with viciously attacking his wife, police never had contact with the couple. They died in an apparent murder-suicide less than a week later.

But advocates warn that a lack of police contact doesn’t indicate there weren’t previous instances of abuse.

“Arrest record is something, but it’s not everything,” said Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs Executive Director Beth Schnorr.

Investigators believe Robert Schmidt fatally shot his wife Sara Schmidt on Tuesday evening outside his parents’ home in the town of Harrison, according to Calumet County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brett Bowe.

Robert Schmidt — who was ordered not to have contact with his wife or possess guns after he was charged Jan. 4 with two domestic violence felonies in which she was the victim — had been living at the residence, Bowe said.

He had been released after posting a $10,000 cash bond on Jan. 5, the same day his wife filed for divorce, according to court records. Calumet County Sheriff’s Lt. Mark D. Wiegert said Sara Schmidt would have been notified he had been released.

“We had nothing on him” before the criminal case that was charged last week, Bowe said.

Investigators are looking into why Sara Schmidt was at the residence.

Autopsies were scheduled for Thursday. Police said previously that Robert Schmidt died of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound, and Sara Schmidt was found in her vehicle outside the residence, dead from at least one gunshot wound.

There are multiple witnesses to the shooting, Bowe said.

The gun Robert Schmidt used in Tuesday’s shooting was not the same one referenced in the Jan. 4 criminal complaint in which he was charged in Calumet County with first-degree sexual assault and kidnapping, Bowe said. Sara Schmidt told an investigator Robert Schmidt had recently purchased a black handgun and on Dec. 31 had “held a gun to her head, … tied her up with cord and duct tape, cut off her clothes” and sexually assaulted her, according to the complaint.

Schmidt admitted to pointing the gun at his wife multiple times, tying her to the bed, and assaulting her. He also told authorities he had purchased a tracking device for his wife’s car about a month earlier because he was suspicious of her relationship with a coworker, the complaint stated.

That gun had been confiscated by police as a result of the criminal charges he was facing, Bowe said. Investigators are looking into where he got the gun used Tuesday.

Bowe said police can’t take away guns in every domestic violence situation, including cases that don’t involve any physical contact. If it’s a situation where guns aren’t used but the victim is afraid, most of the time authorities will try to have those guns removed from the residence and usually placed with a third-party, he said.

“We as law enforcement can’t actually confiscate a weapon unless it’s used or there’s a threat of using it,” he said.

Robert Schmidt was also put on a GPS monitoring bracelet so authorities could monitor where he was, according to Bowe and court records. Bowe said his agency was not notified of any violations of the GPS monitoring system.

Schnorr said the level of violence present in the criminal complaint is something she’s seen in previous cases.

“We work with so many women that we believe are in the same situation,” Schnorr said. “You just never know. So we take safety planning very seriously with every single victim that we work with because we know that this is a potential, and when there are firearms involved, that makes it even more so.”

There are warning signs of escalating controlling behavior, she said, including stalking a victim and exhibiting jealous and victim-blaming behavior.

She said there are systemic changes that need to happen, from how young men are raised and how they view women, to gun control and making victims feel safe contacting authorities.

Schnorr also said it’s good to have bond provisions that prohibit contact with a victim or possession of a gun but also said many perpetrators will not follow those rules.

“When they have escalated to the point where they feel they have a right to control their partner and dictate everything that their partner does, they also do not have respect for those kinds of orders and so it takes a team to enforce that,” she said.

She advocated using a variety of tools including restraining orders, bond conditions, safety planning, prevention and follow up with victims.

“After a homicide, many times we focus on what the victim did or didn’t do and that just is not what we need to do. … We have to focus on why the abuser thought he had the right to take a life and what we can do better from Harbor House on up,” Schnorr said.


January 12th, 2018  Israel Garcia-Alcantara, Age 25 – Cashton


A Cashton man admitted fatally shooting another man with a stolen firearm early Friday in eastern Monroe County, according to police reports.

Adalberto Lopez, 35, took a .22-caliber rifle and ammunition from the office of a farm’s milk parlor where he works and drove to a dairy farm along Hwy. D in the town of Jefferson to find Israel Alcantara, 25, according to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Department report.

Lopez’s wife left the marriage on Dec. 30 and moved in with Alcantara.

At the dairy farm, Alcantara approached Lopez’s car and began punching the windshield, window and side mirror before returning to the milking parlor.

Lopez said he waited for Alcantara to return to the car and shot him as he exited the building about 4:45 a.m., according to the report. Alcantara ran back to the milking parlor, and Lopez followed until he saw his victim drop to the floor.

Alcantara died at the scene.

Lopez fled and crashed his car before it broke down in Juneau County. A passerby stopped to help before authorities arrested him, according to the report.

Lopez is jailed in Monroe County and faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon when he appears Feb. 20 in Monroe County Circuit Court.


January 15th, 2018  Police Pursuit Crash,  Saratoga

A Town of Saratoga man crashed his vehicle and died in Wood County Monday night while fleeing from police, according to the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.

Wood County deputies responded to a physical domestic disturbance between 57-year-old Louis Hoffman and a woman at a home in the Town of Saratoga around 9:45 p.m. Monday.

Hoffman left the home before law enforcement arrived. His vehicle was quickly located by deputies, who attempted to stop him on State Highway 73, near Carousel Court. Hoffman did not stop and as he neared the intersection of 48th Street and Spruce Avenue, he suddenly accelerated to a high rate of speed, according to a press release.

Hoffman hit a tree and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash is still under investigation.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Department got help from the Wisconsin Rapids Police, Wisconsin State Patrol, Nekoosa Police, Wood County Rescue and Grand Rapids Fire Department.

January 20th, 2018  Cierra Hardrath, Age 21 – Owen, WI &  Duane Lopez Jr.,  Age 25 – Medford

A 26-year-old Owen man told police he tracked his fiancee to a house in Abbotsford and shot her to death because he believed she was cheating on him, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Tyler Zimmerman told officers he then panicked and shot a man who was standing nearby, then fired his handgun at that man’s girlfriend as he was fleeing the house, according to the complaint. Moments later he left a voicemail for his boss and posted a message on Facebook in apparent reference to the shootings, police said.

Zimmerman’s fiancee, Cierra Hardrath, 21, and Duane Lopez Jr., 25, died from gunshot wounds early Saturday, according to Colby-Abbotsford police. Megan Dupee, 18, was taken to Marshfield Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Police Chief Jason Bauer.

Police rushed to the scene at 406 E. Maple St. after Dupee called 911 at 3:02 a.m. Saturday, according to reports.

Police identified the shooter as Zimmerman, who was engaged to and lived with Hardrath in Owen. The two had been together for four years, according to the criminal complaint.

Dupee and Lopez were engaged to be married and had no affiliation with Zimmerman, according to police.

The owner of the Abbotsford house where the shooting took place, Parker Knautz, also was there with his two children at the time, but they were unharmed, according to authorities. Knautz did not know Zimmerman personally, police said.

Zimmerman returned to the Abbotsford house while police were investigating, still holding the .40-caliber handgun investigators believe he used to shoot the victims, the complaint said. An officer ordered him to drop the gun, which he did, and Zimmerman surrendered without a struggle.

Zimmerman told police, according to the criminal complaint, that he was concerned that Hardrath was cheating on him. She had told him she was going to a friend's house Friday night, but he found through Facebook Messenger that she had been talking to other men. Zimmerman said he tracked Hardrath through the "Find my iPhone" app on her iPad.

According to the criminal complaint:

Zimmerman drove to the house in Abbotsford and encountered Lopez, who was staying in the home with Dupee. After a short exchange, Lopez allowed Zimmerman inside. He found Hardrath sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, where he shot her after a short conversation, the complaint said. Zimmerman said he panicked and shot Lopez, who was standing outside the bedroom. As he left the residence, he also shot Dupee, who was at the bottom of the stairs. He ran from the house and to his truck and drove away to his workplace.

He told police that he then called his boss and left a message, as well as posting to Facebook: "Farewell everyone, I'm sorry for all that I have hurt from this, someone pick up Maisy and derby for me." The names referred to his pets at his home in Owen.

Zimmerman was referred to the Marathon County District Attorney’s Office on two counts of intentional first-degree homicide and one count of attempted intentional first degree homicide and booked into the Marathon County Jail. A judge on Monday ordered him held on a $1 million bond and scheduled his next court date for Friday.

January 22nd, 2018  Unnamed Baby Girl, Age 2 months - Two Rivers

Matthew Brown-Edwards, 22, of Two Rivers, is being held in Manitowoc County Jail for allegedly abusing is girlfriend's infant daughter, who eventually died.

Two Rivers Police Department officials say the 8-week-old baby died at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee. Autopsy results are not complete, but Two Rivers Assistant Police Chief Brian Kohlmeier said they believe child abuse led to the baby's death, but he did not share additional details on Monday.

Last week, police arrested Brown-Edwards on suspicion of abusing his girlfriend’s infant, who was found unconscious and not breathing. Kohlmeier said he was arrested on charges of physical abuse of a child causing great bodily harm, failure to render aid and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the police department, officers were called to a home on the north side of Two Rivers at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday for the report of an infant who was unconscious and not breathing. The baby was taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital.

Kohlmeier said police will work with the Manitowoc County District Attorney's office to determine if more charges will be filed once autopsy results are available. Police say they do not believe the abuse was caused by any kind of altercation.

The assistant chief said a bail of $150,000 was set at a recent hearing. Brown-Edwards is expected to make a court appearance at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.

January 22nd, 2018  Unnamed Baby Boy, Age 3 weeks, Green Bay

A 31-year-old Green Bay man was charged Thursday in Brown County Circuit Court with first-degree intentional homicide for the death of his 23-day-old son.

Authorities learned of the baby's death Monday when they were called to St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay. The baby had been in Jeremiah Thomas' care since 8 a.m. that day.

Assistant District Attorney Wendy W. Lemkuil said Thomas was his son's only caregiver on Monday. The baby is identified in court records as I.J.T.

Thomas at first denied involvement in the baby's death. He later told authorities several different ways he may hurt his son, "while ultimately confessing to accidentally killing his son,” Lemkuil said.

The three-week-old baby's injuries included two skull fractures, 10 of his 12 ribs were broken, and he had several other broken bones and bruises, Lemkuil said.

A cerebral edema, or a swelling of the brain, was the cause of death, Lemkuil said.

Dr. Agnieszka Rogalska of the Dane County Medical Examiner's office told authorities that she believed the injuries were "non-accidental," according to a criminal complaint.

Lemkuil said authorities are also investigating the death of another child in a house in Texas that Thomas lived in.

The complaint states Thomas initially told authorities he may have “accidentally smothered or suffocated” the boy when they were sleeping together. He told authorities he woke up and called 911.

While talking to law enforcement, Thomas  later said he dropped the baby on two occasions. He also admitted to picking the boy up by his feet and spanking him after he urinated on Thomas, and to “squeezing” the baby too tight around the ribs when picking him up to massage the boy's left side in an effort to help the child’s constipation.

The baby’s mother told authorities the child was not constipated when Thomas picked him up, but did have gas. She told authorities she instructed Thomas how to care for the baby and Thomas assured her he had experience taking care of children.

Thomas told authorities he saw the baby was not breathing as he prepared to take him back to his mother’s house.

Thomas is being held in the Brown County Jail on a $250,000 cash bond. His next court appearance is at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

January 26th, 2018  Dontrel Burnett, Age 24, Milwaukee



MENOMONEE FALLS -- 23-year-old Demetrius Gordon is now charged in connection with the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Dontrel Burnett of Milwaukee. Gordon faces a single count of first degree intentional homicide in this case.

Burnett was fatally shot near the intersection of Pilgrim Rd. and Megal Dr. in Menomonee Falls on Friday afternoon, Jan. 26. Prosecutors say Gordon tracked Burnett's car as he was driving Gordon's ex-girlfriend to work.

According to the criminal complaint, Burnett was in a vehicle with two other passengers on Friday afternoon. One was the ex-girlfriend of Gordon. The complaint indicates Gordon is the father of the woman's child and "they broke up three weeks prior."

The complaint indicates Burnett was driving northbound on I-41 and exited at Pilgrim Rd. He and his passengers were apparently concerned for their safety due to Gordon's driving -- who had been driving nearby. At Pilgrim and Megal, Gordon "pulled up directly behind Burnett's vehicle," the complaint says. Burnett stepped out and walked toward Gordon's car. One of the witnesses inside Burnett's vehicle said he saw Gordon "reach over with his right hand." That is when Burnett started to "run away from both cars, and the defendant began shooting at Burnett." The witness observed Burnett "stop and fall."

"I'm at a loss for words. I don't know what to say," Richard Burnett, Dontrel's father said. "I would never think that I would be a part of a club of a parent that would bury his son or his daughter. He was just a kind, giving, loving person."

Family members said the two men had issues in the past.

"Why did you take my son? He was a special kid. I don't know what to say to you man but I hope God deals with you accordingly and you serve justice man," Richard Burnett said.

The complaint indicates after the shooting, Gordon's vehicle then drove away from the scene.

Officials say on Sunday, Jan. 28, investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Gordon -- and around 6:30 p.m., he was taken into custody. Gordon is being held at the Waukesha County Jail.

Gordon made his initial appearance in court on Monday, Jan. 29. A hearing was set for Feb. 14. Cash bond was set at $500,000.

Meanwhile, Menomonee Falls police are urging anyone who was a witness to this Friday incident to call them at 262-532-8700.

Also, investigators are on the lookout for the vehicle operated by Gordon at the time of the shooting. Officials say it is a gold 1997 Chevrolet Malibu, 4-door with Wisconsin license ABV-8003.

January 31st, 2018  Maribel Yessenia Ruiz Flores, Age 36, Whitewater


Maribel Ruiz-Flores


The two fatal victims in a murder-suicide that occurred in Fort Atkinson earlier this week have been identified as a Whitewater couple.

The pair of 36-year-olds were identified as Maribel Yessenia Ruiz Flores and Sillvestre Ramirez Linares. According to reports, Ruiz was shot and killed by Ramirez Wednesday morning after an altercation outside of an apartment complex on S. Third Street. Later that day, Ramirez was found dead in his vehicle in the Town of Cold Spring from a suspected gunshot wound.

Initial reports indicated the couple was married, however further investigation revealed the two were never officially married although they had been together for nearly 18 years and share two children. Processing of the investigation and evidence is still underway.

February 20th, 2018  Lyle Leith, Age 77, Wausau



WAUSAU - A man facing disorderly conduct charges reportedly threatened the 77-year-old Wausau man who was found dead earlier this week, telling the victim's daughter "You will all pay."

Lee A. Franck, 56, of Niagara in Florence County, appeared in court Thursday on two counts of disorderly conduct as a repeat domestic abuser. A judge set a $750,000 cash bond.

Lyle Leith was found dead in his garage along Kickbusch Street by his daughter on Tuesday morning. Police have been investigating the incident as a homicide but have not released a cause of death.

Wausau police announced Wednesday night that they searched a home in Florence County and arrested a man in the home on suspicion of felony domestic violence. They did not elaborate on his connection to Leith's death.

According to the criminal complaint:

► Franck had been in a relationship with Leith's daughter, who is not named, and lived with her off and on in Wausau. Most recently, he lived with her from mid-January to Feb. 17.

► On Feb. 17, Franck and the woman argued at home about their relationship and the care of her mother, who is bedridden with a terminal condition. Leith was also present and tried to de-escalate the situation, but Franck told him to leave and mind his own business. In defending her father, Leith, the woman asked Franck to leave. Franck told Leith and the woman, "You will all pay," and said God is the only one who could judge him.

► Franck slowly gathered his belongings and took them to his car, then sat in the vehicle outside the woman's home until 11:30 p.m. before leaving. The woman believed he had been drinking and using prescription medications at the time.

► The next day, the woman had several conversations with Franck via the mobile phone app FaceTime. Franck was screaming at her and said she and her family were killing her mother. Franck repeatedly threatened her, including comments that she was “f---ing with the wrong person” and that he would “hurt you to the point you can’t return from it.” He insulted her family and called Leith “worthless” and “useless,” accusing him of wanting his ex-wife dead. He said he hoped his former girlfriend and her family would die. He also said to the woman, “Maybe it will all come true for you.”

► The woman also received disturbing text messages from Franck on Feb. 18, including one that states, in part, "You better be prepared before I come and kick your butt.” He also reiterated via text that she “f---ed with the wrong person.” The woman responded to Franck with a text message saying she was afraid of him.

► The woman informed police that she would seek a restraining order against Franck with Leith's help.

Franck was convicted of disorderly conduct in 2008 and placed on three years of probation and ordered to undergo counseling, according to online Marathon County court records. In 2013, he was sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $200 after he was accused of getting in a fight with his brother-in-law while armed with a knife.

He is scheduled to appear in court next for a review hearing on Feb. 28.

March 10th, 2018  Jessica Johnson, Age 32, Holmen
March 10th, 2018 , Gabriela Farias, Age 1, Holmen

A baby girl and a woman were found dead in Ocala National Forest on Saturday morning and the shooter, the little girl's father, later died of a self-inflicted wound in an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said.

Investigators said Kevin Benjamin Olesen Farias, 26 of Minnesota shot and killed Jessica Johnson, 33, and their 1-year-old daughter Gabriela Farias.

Farias later died in a hospital, deputies said Monday morning.

They all had gunshot wounds, Marion County Sheriff’s spokesman Paul Bloom said Saturday.

Johnson and Gabriela are from Wisconsin, Bloom said.

While details of the attack haven’t been made public, deputies were called Saturday to an area near Forest Road 88, about 2 miles north of State Road 40, after a person in the area found the man and the victims at 10:52 a.m.