Mom says voices told her to kill baby
A 32-year-old Town of Oconomowoc woman said she heard voices tell her to kill her 10-week-old daughter, according to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
Dana M. Hooper faces a felony charge of first-degree intentional homicide for allegedly stabbing her baby to death Sept. 15 at their home. Her husband, Kevin, 33, is charged with another felony, failing to report the death of a child.
The two made their first court appearances Tuesday. Court Commissioner Laura Lau set the woman's bail at $1 million and her husband's at $100,000.
Shackled at the wrists and feet, Dana Hooper appeared in court wearing the county jail's green suicide vest.
In addition to the bail, Lau ordered that the parents may not have contact with each other or their other two children, ages 2 and 3.
Dana Hooper has no prior criminal record besides speeding tickets in 2008 and 2010. Prosecutors suggested she might have been suffering from a mental illness at the time of the murder.
"It's certainly going to take some examinations by experts and some more investigation into circumstances leading up to Saturday to have better certainty about what's going on, but this case clearly cries out with some very mental health issues," Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said after Tuesday's hearing. "There is no rational explanation for what happened. All the explanations that make any sense whatsoever are completely irrational."
Schimel indicated that Hooper might have been suffering from postpartum depression in the month leading up to the incident.
If convicted, she faces life in prison. Her husband faces up to $10,000 in fines and 3 ½ years in prison.
Lau called the circumstances surrounding the murder, "about the most frightening that I've ever read."
According to the criminal complaint, a Town of Oconomowoc police officer responded to W353 N5950 Lisbon Road regarding a report of a 2-month-old baby that had allegedly been stabbed to death by her mother.
The officer arrived at the home at 5:50 p.m., where he was greeted by Kevin Hooper, who eventually informed him that the child was in a Pack 'n Play in the living room. The officer saw the lifeless baby, wrapped in a blanket inside a laundry basket, which was inside the Pack 'n Play.
The baby was pronounced dead at the scene, and a subsequent autopsy revealed that the baby had died as a result of a large number of stab wounds to the chest and torso area. Hooper later told police that she stabbed the baby approximately six or seven times.
The original call to 9-1-1 came from Rogers Memorial Hospital, where Dana Hooper had checked in earlier in the afternoon, based on a report that she was suicidal. After speaking with hospital staff, she revealed that she had killed her baby and that no one had yet alerted authorities, the complaint alleged.
At the hospital, Hooper said things to police without being asked any questions, such as "psychotic," "no sleep in five days," "postpartum in the past" and "new medication," the complaint said.
She allegedly told police she had started taking a new medication, Sertraline, four or five days before the incident.
Sertraline is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, according to drugs.com.
According to the complaint, she also said she had stopped sleeping and heard voices in her head that told her to kill her baby. At one point she stated, "I'm going to tell you the truth. I thought they were spiritual warfare at our house. Voices in my head, God's voice, told me to kill my baby because it was satanic."
She allegedly told hospital staff that the voices stopped as soon as she killed her 2-month old daughter and that she could not believe what she had done. Hooper also stated that she felt she was going to go to hell, the complaint stated.
The mother of three stated that she did not feel like it was her stabbing the baby and thought that maybe she was possessed.
Neither she nor her husband called an ambulance after the baby's killing. Instead, they allegedly went to Rogers Memorial Hospital to check her in for psychiatric help.
Kevin Hooper told police that he had been concerned about his wife over the last month. He said he had spent the morning painting and playing with the couple's other two children. At about 1 p.m., he brought the other two children inside for lunch and saw blood on his wife's hands. She allegedly admitted to him that she killed the baby approximately an hour before and that she left her upstairs in the couple's bedroom.
The complaint stated that he thought he should call an ambulance but that he knew the baby was already dead. Instead, he called the hospital to get his wife admitted. He never told hospital staff about the baby's murder, the complaint said.
The Hoopers' other two children accompanied them to the hospital while the baby lay dead at their home. Shortly after admitting his wife to the hospital, Kevin Hooper returned home with his children. At approximately 5:17 p.m., a woman from the hospital called and said that his wife had told hospital staff that she had killed the baby. The woman wanted to know if anyone had called an ambulance. Kevin Hooper said he had not but that he would call police once his father-in-law arrived to help with the kids.
Police arrived a short time later.
In court, Kevin Hooper's attorney, who tried to persuade the court to grant his client access to his two remaining children, said Kevin Hooper posed no threat to his children and that while he exercised poor judgment in not immediately reporting the crime, his intent that day was to protect his children.
The court commissioner questioned why Hooper never thought to call an ambulance or alert authorities.
"Bad decision making? That is the understatement of the year," she said, adding that she believed that he still posed a threat to his children.
The children have been temporarily placed with a family member.
Dana Hooper's next court hearing is at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 3, while her husband will be in court for a preliminary hearing at 8:15 p.m. Oct. 18. The district attorney said their two cases should be tried separately because there was a strong possibility of an insanity plea from Dana Hooper.
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