She was 8 years old. During the day she attended school, a new school where she had met new teachers and was likely making new friends. Who knows what thoughts were in her mind that day? Perhaps looking forward to playing with her one year old sister, getting a snack, watching cartoons, thinking about the homework she had to do, or perhaps even thinking of the gifts she would ask for, for Christmas. Just a day like any other.
She and her parents had moved to the area just 6 months before. But she had made it through that scary first day when she didn’t know anyone, and probably was settling in to the new routines by now.
If asked she probably would tell you that she trusted her parents. And could probably tell you that she was proud of both of them, they were both in the profession of helping people- her mother Dianne Crouse, 36, was a nurse now working in an ICU and her father Dennis G. Crouse, 50, a former fire chief and reserve deputy, now working as a paramedic manager for the emergency room at the same hospital her mother worked at.
So when she walked into the house after school on Tuesday and saw the blood on the walls, the chair and the stairs- that would have been one of the most frightening things a child would have to face. But when she found her mother stabbed and non-responsive…. so much worse.
She did what her mother would have told her to do. With no adult to do it, she called 911. “This never, ever happens,” she reportedly told dispatchers. Police responded and her 1 year old sister was found upstairs, unharmed.
It must have been a relief to her when her father pulled up to the home. He could hold her, and talk to the police and tell her what happened. He could make it better.
Dennis Crouse did talk to police. And he allegedly confessed to the murder of his wife, the mother of his children. He reportedly told them it was the result of a physical fight between the two of them.
Her father spent a brief amount of time with her and her sister. They were taken away to a safe house, to stay with strangers until the rest of their family could come. Her father was arrested for suspicion of first degree murder. The murder of her mother.
Not only was her mother dead. But she was left with the shock of finding her mother. She was left with the job of contacting authorities and answering their questions. She was left with the fear of waiting until they arrived. Then when help arrived, it became so much worse.