Gov. Tony Evers’ office promised that the family of the victim of wife killer Douglas would receive a call from Evers himself, but he never called, according to the victim’s sisters and other family members.
Then, adding insult to injury, Evers’ Facebook page sent the victim’s family an automated message after they reached out on Facebook to express outrage that his appointee to the Wisconsin Parole Commission is releasing the killer, who stabbed his wife 42 times, from prison.
The victim’s family wants the governor to take a stand.
“I want to know what it is Evers stands by,” said Kim Binder Cornils, the sister of victim Johanna Balsewicz. “The rights of the people or more so the rights of murderous felons. Seems we can’t get an answer from someone who has the power.”
Here’s what Evers’ page sent Amanda Simmons, the niece of victim Johanna Balsewicz.
Yes, obviously Evers almost certainly didn’t see the message because its an automated response from a bot.
But it’s symbolic of his response to the Balsewicz case, which has been almost total silence.
According to two sisters and niece of the victim, the family reached out to Evers’ office. Then, a family member heard directly from an “office person” working for Evers, who said the governor would call the family, but he ever did.
“I even told them I was a teacher assistant for 15 years for MPS and voted for him along with our union and nothing,” said Theresa Cook, the victim’s niece and her best friend (they were the same age.)
The family points out that the governor issued a proclamation the same day they first reached out to him, through his office that time, for missing and murdered women.
And the governor has refused to answer key questions posed by the news media. The governor says he doesn’t have the power to reverse a Parole Commission decision (the decision was made by his appointee to the Commission, John Tate.) For his part, Tate, who has been open about his desire to release more inmates, is refusing to reverse his decision, in part because he fears the state will be sued.
However, Evers has refused to answer questions, such as whether he condemns the release, whether he calls on it to be stopped, and whether he will remove the Parole Commission chairman, John Tate, who granted it. Evers has that power. He could say these things but has not.
Tate granted Balsewicz release after almost 25 years of an 80 sentence, over the wishes of the victim’s family and the sentencing judge Diane Sykes, who said at the time that he should not be a candidate for early release. The crime was horrific. He snuck into the home of his estranged wife, Johanna Rose Balsewicz, and stabbed her 42 times, including 20 times to the head and neck, while the couple’s toddler children, ages 4 and 2, were present. Then he left the kids with their dead mother and tried to go to Taco Bell. The next day, the kids were found wandering down the street, one in a diaper, holding hands, and covered in blood. Tate granted Balsewicz release, with a date set of May 17.