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