FORT ATKINSON (WKOW) -- A woman is facing serious charges in connection with a fatal fire in Fort Atkinson last week, according to court records.
Records show Elizabeth Durkee, 36, of Fort Atkinson, was charged Tuesday with first-degree intentional homicide, strangulation and suffocation, arson and mutilating a corpse.
Authorities said crews were called Friday to a fire at 415 Foster Street in Fort Atkinson just after 10:44 a.m. One person was found dead in the home.
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, a neighbor told police a woman and child left the home prior to the fire. It states the neighbor, however, did not know if the "older person" who also lived in the residence was still inside.
The complaint states the officer then tried to find a way to get into the house, but the smoke was too heavy. He started to yell inside but was forced to retreat.
Another officer stated he had previous professional contacts at the home and knew the elderly resident was "mainly bedbound." He also knew where the bedroom was located.
According to the complaint, the fire seemed to be at its strongest at that window. When firefighters got the fire out in that area, they could see a body inside.
The complaint states the victim's daughter went to the scene and said she previously had a falling out with her mother, but "had somewhat worked it out." She said her daughter (Elizabeth Durkee) and granddaughter were living at the house with the victim.
The document states that when officials went into the home to remove the body, they could smell an odor consistent with decomposition. It states a piece of clothing found under the victim had maggots in it.
The complaint states this was an indication the body was in a state of decay.
Investigators then spoke to Durkee's 17-year-old daughter who also previously lived at the residence. She stated Durkee told her she wanted to put the victim out of her misery, per court documents.
The defendant said she hoped the victim would fall and hurt herself or the defendant could take a pillow and smother the victim. The defendant said if there was a fire in the house, she would leave the victim in the house. The defendant also said she would burn down the house after the victim died, or hopes a tornado would hit the house. The defendant also said she would drive her and her 2-year-old daughter into either the Rock River or Lake Michigan.Statements the defendant allegedly told her daughter, per the criminal complaint
That evening, the Wisconsin Department of Justice issued an Amber Alert for a two-year-old girl taken from the residence. The Wisconsin Department of Justice stated the girl "may be in great danger."
The girl was found safe about 30 minutes after the Amber Alert was issued.
The criminal complaint states Durkee told investigators she did live with her 72-year-old grandmother. She said the victim was in poor health, suffering from advanced Parkinson's Disease and diabetes.
The document states Durkee said the victim "did not want to live anymore and wanted to be with her late husband."
The defendant said as she prepared dinner in the evening of Monday, June 7, (the) victim talked to the defendant about the defendant helping the victim end her life. The defendant told her they would talk about it when the 2 year old took a nap. The defendant helped the victim to the bathroom where the defendant told the victim she would help her, but didn't know how. The defendant helped the victim back into her bed. The defendant and the victim told each other they love each other.Details from the criminal complaint
The criminal complaint states Durkee told investigators she then put duct tape on the victim's mouth and nose. She said the victim stopped moving about two minutes later.
Durkee told investigators on June 10, she noticed the victim's skin begin to darken and the odor was worsening. After trying to cover up the smell with a cinnamon wax melt, Durkee told investigators she poured gas on furniture and other objects on the first floor and on the blanket covering the victim.
She then told investigators she lit the blanket, per the criminal complaint.
Durkee made her first appearance in court on Tuesday, records show. The court found probable cause and set cash bond at $1 million.
A preliminary hearing is now set for Aug. 5 at 8:30 a.m.