The Fear, The Terror

Cindy L. Bischof, 43, wore many hats. She was a realtor, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a colleague. And due to recent experiences in her life, she told family and friends she was considering putting on another hat. She was thinking of becoming a domestic violence advocate.

Cindy knew what domestic violence was like. She had been married, but her divorce was amicable and she remained close to her in-laws. Then she began dating. About three years ago she began dating 60 year old Michael L. Giroux. The two ended up moving in together and for a time things were good. But last year there were problems and the two decided to separate last May. And then more problems developed.

Bischof came home one day to find her home vandalized. She got a restraining order. She found Giroux on her patio one day trying to hang himself. He was arrested. She moved out of her home for a time, she had cameras installed. He showed up at her office and other places she went. Giroux was arrested for violating the protection order at least three times. At one point Giroux was reportedly in a psychiatric unit via a court order for several months, but he was released in Nov. At one point Cindy reportedly came home and found Giroux in her dark garage.

According to her brother

“This was eight months of terror,” “She had a constant fear for her life. She tried everything. The system failed my sister.”

In Nov. Giroux was also convicted of a violation of the protection order. He was sentenced to 63 days in jail, 60 days of home confinement and 2 years of intensive probation. Since then, things had been quieter. Cindy’s mother has told media that the end of Feb. her daughter did hear from Giroux. He called and apoligized for what he had done. Because the call appeared harmless, Cindy didn’t report it.

Giroux finished his term on home incarceration just this month. On Mar. 7 th Cindy Bischof was leaving work. As she tried to enter her car she was shot. After shooting her, Giroux turned the weapon on himself. Giroux was pronounced dead at the scene. Cindy Bischof was taken to a hospital where she later died.

Now her family and friends are left to pick up the pieces. And they remember what Cindy said about becoming a domestic violence advocate. Since she can no longer become an advocate, the family has decided to do it in her name. They are determined to become advocates on women’s issues and they are starting with the need for electronic monitoring in similar situations. They also want to make protection orders more effective, and try to come up with ways to make the victims safer as they try to get out of the situations.

According to her brother

“There are going to be a lot of people like Cindy, after Cindy, unless things change,” Mike Bischof said.

She asked for protective orders, she followed through, she got cameras for her home, she moved out of her home and stayed elsewhere. She did everything she could to help herself short of disappearing.

And the system actally worked as far as it goes. Police actually made the arrests. Prosecutors actively prosecuted the cases. Judges did impose sentences including jail time. He was even sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Still Cindy Bischof died.  This case, along with others, illustrate how desperately domestic violence laws need to be strengthened, and how new technology needs to be incorporated into the laws. Had electronic monitoring been made available, there would have been an alert to the fact that Giroux was in the vicinity of her workplace.

Cindy Bischof’s Memorial page and the beginning of the domestic violence foundation. If you live in Illinois and wish to help, they have listed contact information. If you live in another state and are thinking of doing something similar, you may wish to make contact also.

There is a lot of good information coming out in the above articles. For instance information about risk factors

Studies of women killed by an intimate partner have identified common traits among the perpetrators. Among them: access to a gun, previous threat with a weapon, estrangement from the partner, stalking, forced sex, abuse during pregnancy, drug abuse and unemployment.

“When individuals are unemployed or they start spiraling downward … then that’s a huge, huge red flag,”

In certain cases, however, no jail sentence — no matter how long — would dissuade someone from harming their intimate partner, experts say.

That’s why women who face abuse or harassment are encouraged to seek help outside the legal system. Domestic violence agencies can assist victims in creating comprehensive safety plans, which can include changing their name and even relocating.

Sometimes only the most extreme measure works, said Kathy Doherty, executive director of Between Friends, which provides legal advocacy to domestic abuse victims.

“We’ve helped some women disappear,” she said.

It doesn’t seem fair that the victim should have to be the one to change her lifestyle in order to survive. But until a better system is developed, it may be best to start  over somewhere new and make the changes, than to live with the fear and the terror or to not survive. And sometimes that is the only choices you have.

Meanwhile, there is a need to fight for stronger laws, better technology, more effective treatment for offenders.

The Standoff

Robert Kowalski, 46, lived in a home with a roommate. But he was reportedly dating Lorraine Kay Morin, 45, who lived a few houses away. On Sunday Kowalski reportedly told his roommate that he had killed Lorraine Morin and was feeling suicidal himself.

The roommate called the sheriff about 11 am. He was away from the address at the time of the call. The sheriff’s department confirmed that Lorraine Morin was found dead in her home and by 2 pm SWAT was surrounding Kowalski’s home.

Reports indicate there were no signs of life in the home. Calls to the home went unanswered. Around 7 pm law enforcement broke some windows in the home and used a pole to pull the drapes back. At that time officers report they knew that Kowalski was alive in the home because he swore at officers. Hours passed with Kowalski still refusing to talk with negotiators. About midnight officers report that Kowalski fired one shot, but about 3 am Kolalski was seen moving around in the home.

The standoff continued throughout the night with the latest media coverage being 4 hours ago indicating that the standoff continuing through late Monday morning. Police have indicated that Kowalski has a history of domestic violence. St Rt 35 has been closed due to the standoff.

Lorraine Morrin was a mother of 6 children ages 9 to 28 years old. The younger children are now reported to be with the older children. **             

** Per a commenter at the dailyinterlake this may not be the first time for Kowalski. Per the commenter Kowalski’s first wife died at his hands. This info has not been confirmed in any media articles as yet.


Monday evening around 6:08 pm police threw cans of tear gas into the home and Kowalski came out and surrendered peacefully. The standoff lasted for 31 hours. Murder charges had been filed against Kowalski on Monday and he was arrested after he surrendered.

Friends and a past girlfriend have told media that Kowalski suffered from bipolar disorder and had problems when he was off his meds. He also became worse when he was drinking. They have said he has been suicidal in the past and there is also a history of domestic violence. The Daily Interlake recounts some of Kowalski’s history and there is no mention of the fate of his first wife.   

Update on Missing

On April 29, 2006 I wrote a post about a young man named Kenneth Countie who was Missing. He was reported as having a relationship with Sheila LaBarre and was last seen with her. Police eventually located what was thought to be his remains on LaBarre’s property in a burn pile.

Kenneth Countie was reported missing by his mother. And it was during that time that another mother came forward asking about her missing son Michael Deloge. He was also last seen with LaBarre and was also believed to have had a relationship with her.

LaBarre was arrested in the death of Kenneth Countie and has been incarcerated since that time. She was not charged in the death of Michael Deloge until very recently. The news has just come out that Sheila LaBarre has pleaded insanity in both deaths earlier today.

LaBarre pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to both charges, essentially admitting the state could prove her guilt, but that she was not legally responsible because she was insane at the time.

Instead of trial to determine guilt in the charges she will instead be going to trial to prove her insanity in May. If she is successful she will be sent to a psychiatric hospital instead of prison. She will also have a hearing to determine if she is dangerous and if she is deemed a danger she will be put into a secure psychiatric unit. Her status will then be reviewed every 5 years. If she is unsuccessful, she will go to prison for life.

This case has interested me since I first read about it. Parts of the information about the case are pretty bizarre, especially in the information that has come out since LaBarre’s arrest. LaBarre insisted she was ‘innocent’ and that she would not give up on fighting the charges.

The timing of the plea is pretty interesting. Kenneth Countie’s first date with Sheila LaBarre was on Feb. 14 of 2006. Now two years later and just two days shy of Valentine’s Day, Sheila LaBarre pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutors gave quite a bit of information today on how they believe that Kenneth Countie and Michael Deloge were killed and on what evidence they found at LaBarre’s farm.

Crime Scene Blog has also posted about the plea. As a matter of fact he has written several posts on the case so while you are there, you may want to do a search for more info about the case.

Give the Dog a Break

Yes, I mean the canine dog. Not the other kind.

 A Washinton couple were reportedly taking care of the daily hygiene needs (I guess that is what they were doing) by preparing to shower together when a disagreement allegedly occurred.

According to what media is reporting, the boyfriend wanted his dog to join them in the bathroom, the girlfriend didn’t and that led to words between the couple. Allegedly the girlfriend said something to the effect that the dog was a dealbreaker in the relationship and either the dog went or she did. Allegedly the boyfriend indicated that he would keep the dog (or something to that effect.) I believe it is also reported that he also mentioned getting a girlfriend who could appreciate the dog.

More discussion and alleged name calling, things said- things replied to then allegedly there was a physical confrontation. Although the couple were allegedly in a naked state it reportedly wasn’t your typical naked confrontation. This wasn’t the actions of making up after an argument.

The boyfriend reportedly ended up with his face being punched, a struggle occured, the boyfriend reportedly suffered a dislocated shoulder, and suffered a cut from a broken picture frame.

Still no making up, the girlfriend was arrested for investigation of second degree assault, and taken to jail with bail being set at $50,000.

So let’s leave the dog out of it. He didn’t ask for the violence, he may well have enjoyed the togetherness time but most likely didn’t enjoy the violence that occurred and probably would have forgone the togetherness if that would have prevented the violence.

If you don’t like what is being asked of you by a boyfriend, it is best to state your piece- then leave peacefully. If your girlfriend gets angry, then state your postition and let her leave- peacefully. The dog would have been happier, the boyfriend would have been happier and the girlfriend would be happier.

This sounds like a bad joke doesn’t it? Unfortunately it isn’t. Female to male abuse does occur. Common couple violence where both members of a couple become physically violent does happen. It isn’t a joke, it is a serious situation.

If it happened in reverse, in a male to female situation the female would most likely claim abuse. In this situation however, it is female on male. And it is still abuse.

Now someone is going to tell me that he probably hit her first. But that is one of the first things police investigate. Who descended into violence first and then they will also look at who has the worst injuries. And then they determine who is the person who will most likely be charged. What happened after that will most likely be deemed self defense as long as the struggle did not escalate into a lethal or almost lethal situation.

Some will say that isn’t fair. Some may say he had probably hit her before. But that would be a separate issue and if that had occurred (and I am in no way indicating that that did occur, as this is entirely hypothetical) if that had occurred and she stayed with him, then that would not affect this situation as once you commit violence yourself, you effectively lose your voice over previous issues.

Basically I guess I am saying is that  old saying- what is “sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.” If you are a female and are physically violent with a spouse or boyfriend, you run the risk of being charged with a crime. Likewise, if you are in a relationship where violence is mutual, then you also run a risk of being charged with a crime. Because violence is violence- no matter which gender commits it.