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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chapter Seventeen - The Police Reports

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The following are excerpts from reports submitted by the incredible professionals at the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. Before asking you to rely on their word and judgment, which is based on an oath to provide service and protection, I would like to thank them again for how hard they tried to save my nephew's life on July 26 of last year. For standing with us while we wept in our yard as the darkness crept in that night. For attending Charlie's funeral. In gratitude, I will let them tell the story as they know it.

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"As I neared the address a female came into the roadway and began waving her arms. I could see a young child laying on the ground on his back. A female was kneeling next to him attempting compressions on his chest. Approximately 2-3 feet from the child laying on his back was a tree with a rope hanging off one of the branches. The rope did not go all the way to the ground (unsure on exact distance from the ground, however, it was more than a couple of feet). The rope had several knots in it forming loops of different sizes. There was a white table with metal legs set up between the tree and the rope. The table was closer to the rope nearly touching the rope. The table had small spots of vomit on it. In front of the table was a tennis shoe that matched the shoe that the victim was wearing on his other foot." - PSO Kelly Pittelkow

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"I arrived shortly after PSO Pittelkow. Upon arrival I observed a male child, Wolf, lying on the ground. The child's mother, Theresa Heller, was performing chest compressions. Wolf appeared to be a grayish color and was limp. I saw that Wolf was only wearing one shoe, which was on his right foot. A matching left shoe was on the ground a few feet away. I could see marks on his neck that appeared to be consistent with a rope pattern." - PSO Ryan Shank

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"I arrived on the scene and observed the child lying on the ground near a tree with officers performing CPR on him. I was handed a bag valve mask and I attached it to our oxygen tank. The child had a large amount of vomit coming from his mouth and had ligature marks on his neck. I assisted providing rescue breaths using the bag valve mask until I was relieved by PSO Shank. After being relieved from the bag valve mask, I performed one complete round of CPR on the child." - PSO Emily Kane

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"I arrived on scene and observed the child lying on the ground near a tree. I further observed a table near the tree with a rope hanging from a branch. The child had vomit coming from his mouth and had ligature marks on his neck. Officers began chest compressions on the child. I assisted in providing rescue breaths using the bag valve mask... I then completed approximately 4 rounds of chest compressions, until the child was pronounced deceased." - PSO Ryan Perez

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"PSO Perez and I arrived on scene together and I observed PSO Shank giving the subject (Wolf) chest compressions... This is a residential neighborhood with a 25mph speed limit... The tree that Wolf was hanged from was a large Maple tree located to the west of the residence in the front yard. This tree had 4 steps that were constructed out of 2x4's on the west side of the tree. At the top of the 4 steps was a crotch in the tree where branches split off. At that crotch there was a small wooden platform. There was a plastic table that was underneath the tree very near the rope upon my arrival. This table was moved during CPR for ease of access to Wolf." - PSO John Stolsonburg

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"Upon arrival, I saw Wolf lying on his back and several officers were performing CPR on him. I saw a rope with several knotted loops hanging from the large tree in the middle of the front yard. I also saw a medium size folding table standing on its legs just off to the side of the hanging rope and I saw one shoe on the ground. Wolf was wearing the other matching shoe. LIFE EMS paramedics arrived and began life-saving efforts. Wolf's mother, Theresa Heller, was present and becoming distraught as the minutes passed... I performed one round of chest compressions on Wolf. As more officers arrived, I then began to manage the scene." - Sgt. Michael Treu

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"INTERVIEW WITNESS (JENNIFER COTE): Cote advised that she lives in the area and was walking her dog past this address. Cote said that she noticed Charlie hanging from his neck from the tree. Cote said she initially thought he was just joking around. Cote advised that she called his name and he did not respond and he appeared lifeless." - PSO John Stolsonburg

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"Heller identified herself to me verbally. She also identified the child/victim as her son, Dennis Charles Wolf... Theresa said that Dennis commonly uses the rope to swing from the tree. Theresa said that Dennis is a normally happy child and had been acting normal all day. She did not think that Dennis would have intentionally hung himself. She said that Dennis had mentioned he was looking forward to going swimming the next day. Theresa asked about our rescue efforts. I explained that we were continuing CPR and that we have to pause sometimes for the AED to assess him. When Theresa's parents arrived I left her in their care and assisted again in rescue efforts." - PSO Ryan Shank

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"On 7/26/15 at 2008 hours I was contacted by dispatch on a rescue at 3809 S. Park Street on an accidental hanging. Upon arrival I made contact with Lt. Handlogten and Sgt. Treu who advised known male was found hanging in a tree by his neck unresponsive. Life saving efforts was underway as I arrived on scene. Victim Dennis Wolf was pronounced dead a short time after my arrival on scene. Capt. Ledbetter was contacted and detectives were being called in to investigate the incident." - Lab Tech Terry Thomas

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"Canlas described Wolf as having no movement, not gasping, being discolored (yellowish) and not breathing. I asked her to describe to me how Wolf was positioned. Canlas said that the plastic table was positioned under the tree and that Wolf's legs and buttocks were pushed against the table. Canlas said that the table was resting on two legs and was unable to fall over due to Wolf's body weight resting against it. Canlas said that she beleived Wolf's legs were off of the ground." - PSO John Stolsonburg

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"The family advised they were parishioners of St. Joseph Church in Kalamazoo. I contacted the church and spoke with Father Mike Hazard who responded to the scene." - PSO Ryan Perez

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"Dr. S. Hendren called the time of death of 2035 hours. The child's mother became very distraught and went inside the residence. Other PSOs on scene alerted that the mother had armed herself with a firearm. She immediately placed the weapon down and came back outside. I went inside the residence to conduct a protective sweep of the residence. During the protective sweep I located several long guns inside the residence. The weapons were taken for safekeeping and I turned them over to Lab Tech Thomas on scene." - PSO Brett Bylsma

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"After the family was notified of the victim's death, I was advised that the mother of the victim had gone into the house to get a gun. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the mother was safe and was with Sgt. Treu near the front entrance to the house. Sgt. Juday, PSO Bylsma, PSO Stolsonburg and I performed a protective sweep of the house to make sure there were no injured parties inside and to make sure the guns were located so nobody would harm themselves." - Sgt. Michael Ferguson

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"After the child had been pronounced deceased, I overheard an officer yell 'gun' and was told that the child's mother ran inside to get a gun to possibly commit suicide. I began alerting and directing the medics and doctors to move away from the house and take a position of cover in the event a firearm was discharged. After the scene was declared safe, I allowed the medics to go back to their duties. I saw neighbors begin walking towards the house so I decided it would be best to put police line tape at the intersection of Parker and S. Park to prevent neighbors from entering the area." - PSO Emily Kane

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"After Wolf was pronounced dead, Theresa Heller ran into the house and locked herself in her bedroom as she grabbed a long gun. After a couple minutes, Heller came out without any weapons and once again broke down in tears. She told me that she didn't know how to use the gun. She also told me that she gave her first child up for adoption and she waited 20 years before having 'Charlie' and he was everything in her life." - Sgt. Michael Treu

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"I stood by with Theresa for over an hour and a half while the scene was processed. During that time Theresa continued to imply that she was going to try and kill herself. She never said when or how she was going to do it. She advised she no longer had anything to live for. Scene command was made aware of Theresa's mental condition. The information was passed on to the family so Theresa would not be left alone." - PSO Kelly Pittelkow

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"MEDICAL EXAMINER: M.E. Kai Cronin responded to the scene. M.E. Cronin contacted a removal service who responded to the scene." - PSO Ryan Shank

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"Medical examiner Kai Cronin arrived on scene and investigated the incident. Cronin used body tag #0076932 after Wolf was placed and secured in the body bag. Cronin advised an autopsy would be conducted at Western Michigan University Forensic Pathology Department with date and time unknown. Wolf was removed from the residence by Daniel Removal Services." - Lab Tech Terry Thomas

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"Charlie seemed fine and happy and asked Paul to drop him off at his dad's house but Paul told him he couldn't because he had to go to work. Paul left around 330pm to go to work and was at work when this incident occurred. Charlie was inside the house when Paul left. Paul said that Charlie was a happy, funny kid who did not have any problems with depression, etc and had no recent problems that they knew of. He said he did not believe that Charlie was suicidal... Paul said the rope out front had been there for years, that all the neighborhood kids liked to play on it." - Det. Kristen Cole

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"INTERVIEW WITH FRIEND (Calvin C******l): C******l stated he has been a friend of Wolf's for the past few years and last spoke with him on 7/25/15. The only contact between C******l and Wolf at that time was Wolf saying 'hi' as he rode his bicycle past C******l's house... I asked C******l if he noticed anything unusual or different with Wolf in the days leading up to this incident and C******l stated 'no'. C******l explained he commonly played with Wolf and Wolf's demeanor had not changed." - PSO Matthew Bruce

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"I asked Cote if she has had interactions with Wolf prior to today and she said yes. Cote advised that Wolf has watched her dog in the past and that he is a sweet child." - PSO John Stolsonburg

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"I spoke to Charlie and Rita Heller together in the kitchen of the home. They both said that they live down the street and were close to Charlie and his mom. They both said he was a happy kid, funny and smart with lots of friends. He recently turned 12 yo and had approx 40 kids at the house for his birthday as he was well liked. They said Theresa did not have problems with Charlie and he was not known to be depressed or have any suicidal thoughts." - Det. Kristen Cole

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"Detective Dahlinger and Detective Hecht made contact with Wolf and learned that he was aware of his son's death. Wolf had been told by Charlie's mother, Theresa Heller... Wolf feels Charlie's death was an accident and that it couldn't possibly be a suicide. Wolf stated that Charlie didn't have any problems and that he was a happy kid. Wolf recalled Charlie being a little upset when he didn't pick him up as planned on the date of Charlie's death. Wolf described Theresa Heller as a good mother that allowed Wolf to take Charlie whenever he desired... Wolf stated that whenever Theresa Heller couldn't afford something for Charlie, his grandparents would step in and buy him whatever he needed."- Det. Sheila Goodell

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"INTERVIEW WITH FRIEND (Delaney M*******n): Delaney described herself as a 'very close' friend to Wolf. Delaney stated Wolf had made a statement to her about how he was 'going through a phase' a couple of weeks ago however Wolf never stated what the phase was. Delaney stated she didn't notice anything unusual or different with Wolf." - PSO Matthew Bruce

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"Vaughan-Williams is Charlie's Godmother and Theresa Heller's friend. Vaughan-Williams described Charlie as a popular, happy kid. Vaughan-Williams saw no signs of Charlie being suicidal and she would have a difficult time believing that Charlie committed suicide. Vaughan-Williams agreed with what Heller had stated and said she had nothing additional to add. Because Theresa Heller is so distraught, Vaughan-Williams agreed to be my point of contact for Theresa Heller." - Det. Sheila Goodell

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"On 7-26-2015 I interviewed Gregory Kapus outside his residence at [REDACTED]. Kapus did not see anything suspicious today but often sees kids playing on the rope in the tree. Kapus stated he sometimes sees only one child playing and other times up to 3 or 4 kids playing on the tree rope." - PSO Ryan Preston

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"Wolf recalled seeing Charlie swing from the rope. Wolf thought to himself that he should remove it." - Det. Sheila Goodell

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"ADDITIONAL: I had no other involvement with this incident." - Lab Tech Terry Thomas

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"CPS was notified, log # 3568363" - PSO Ryan Shank

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"I stood by with Theresa until a detective arrived and relieved me of my duties." - PSO Kelly Pittelkow

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I want to thank them again. And again.

The next time you get pulled over for Driving While Dumb, and you feel like telling the officer a thing or two in order to vent the frustration you feel from the ticket you're about to receive... Think about what he or she might have gone through the night before.

Or the week before. Or the month before. Or the year before. Because it never goes away. Ever.

pH 5.21.16

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1 comment:

  1. As tough as it is to read about Charlie, I can't begin to imagine the pain and sense of loss the family has experienced and continues to experience.

    ReplyDelete

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