Brian Leingang, 33, and his wife 38 year-old Melissa Leingang had a new baby son. He recently told a neighbor how much that meant to him.
“They just had a new baby, Caden, he was the love of their life, brand new baby, things just seemed to be going okay.” “He had just told me that on Wednesday that he loved that baby more than anything and the baby had changed his life and he loved her and now they’re gone,”
At the time that was probably a relief to the neighbors because the same neighbor had this to say:
“I know there was previous abuse through the years, she just didn’t report it she was so quiet she just kept it all in and wouldn’t, she protected him and he isolated her from family and friends, there was never company there, it wasn’t a normal household.”
Around 8:45 Fri. night, police 911 dispatchers recieved two calls from out of state family members, saying there may be a problem in the home, and asking them to check on them. When police responded to the home, Leingang was at the home, and was placed under arrest when police discovered the bodies of Melissa and their 7 month old son Caden.
The autopsy report has not been released as yet, but there are indications that both may have been strangled.
A couple with a classic history of domestic abuse. The wife didn’t report. Isolation. Likely the couple was caught up in the “cycle”. For those who are unfamiliar with the “honeymoon cycle” of abuse, I found an excellent article here:
Basically, it consists of a violent episode, then a period of remorse, followed by a period of minimizing the abuse and assigning blame- the victim caused it, or it was the drugs or alcohol, then sometimes comes a period called the “honeymoon”. Things appear calm, there may be gifts and/or compliments. Both are hoping that things will be better. But then there will eventually come a period of tension building again, followed by another incident of abuse. In some households the cycle is quick, maybe only 24 hours. In some households, months may go by. We are taught from a young age, that when someone apologises we are to accept they apology. And an abuser can often be very good at apologies. They appear very sincere, and they always have reasons- excuses for their behavior. And they usually promise it will never happen again. So a person who loves them, will often want to believe that things can be different- after all they are “sorry” and they “didn’t mean to do it”.
After a while, when the victim is sufficienty in control, the “honeymoon” portion may almost disappear to the point a period of not abusing is the only sign of it left.
Often having a baby, becoming a “real” family is seen as a solution to the problem. What neither of them realize is that having a baby not only increases the stress on a relationship, it endangers the child also.
I found it interesting that the call for assistance came from a family member from out of state. There is no indication if this was her family member or his. Either way, there is family out there who cared for this couple and this baby. No matter whose family they were, they cared enough to make contact with the police. And they are likely hurting right now.
The neighborhood seems to be in shock. They knew of the history, but thought things were better. The second article I linked to about the story is the story of a domestic abuse survivor’s reaction to these murders. She has some excellent advice for victims in this situation, and her words should be remembered by anyone who finds themselves in this situation. If you are being abused, please read that article.
“Don’t let this happen to you, it’s hard but you gotta get out of the situation and get the help, there’s help out there, there’s places to protect you,”
Thanks to Julie we have an update. Brian Leingang was found guilty but mentally ill in the murder of his wife and son. In June while in the South Dakota State Penitentiary he was found nonresponsive in his cell. Later he was pronounced dead.