Sunday, August 29, 2004

Officer Mike Waleskowski - Murders / Suicide - Waterford PD



On August 29, 2009, Waterford Township Police Officer Michael Waleskowski, shot and killed his wife Lorna....



....Officer Waleskowski shot and killed his 9 year- old son, Hayden...


....Officer Waleskowski set the house on fire and then committed suicide.











Frog sculpture honors 10-year-old
May 17, 2005
By CAROL HOPKINS
The Daily Oakland Press
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/051705/loc_20050517006.shtml

Fifth-grader Hayden Waleskowski loved all kinds of earthly creatures. That's why the 10-year-old boy will be remembered with a frog sculpture by his classmates at Haviland Elementary School.

Hayden and his mother, Lorna, were killed by his father, Michael Waleskowski, last August, after his father, a Waterford Township police officer, was suspended from duty.

School officials used the $2,600 that was donated after the boy's funeral to purchase a 60-inch-high bronze sculpture of a frog that will be placed in the school's front gardens.

"It seemed like this was a fitting memorial as Hayden loved animals and nature," said Rhonda Lessel, spokeswoman for the district.

The sculpture, which will be visible from the road, should be installed in two to three weeks.

A ceremony to dedicate the sculpture will be conducted for Hayden's relatives and the fifth-grade class before the end of the school year, Lessel said.








Burned-out house where 3 died haunts neighbors
Waterford officials working to demolish remnants of home
May 17, 2005
By CAROL HOPKINS
The Daily Oakland Press
http://www.theoaklandpress.com/stories/051705/loc_20050517005.shtml

WATERFORD TWP. - Neighbors in Waterford Township don't like driving by what's left of the home on Meadowview where, last August, patrol officer Mike Waleskowski killed his wife, Lorna, and their son, Hayden, 10, and then set fire to the house and killed himself.

"It is a terrible reminder of what happened," said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

"Many (Waterford students) have to see that house every day as a constant reminder that their friend died in that house. It is hard to fill the mind of a young child with all the happy, positive memories we have of the Waleskowski family only to drive by that house and be reminded of the horror in which they died."

Township officials say they, too, are frustrated with the time they've had trying to demolish the boarded-up home.

"The building is open to the elements and unsafe," said Douglas Bradley, the township's Building and Engineering director. "We're concerned with residents in the neighborhood."

The township began trying to have the home demolished late last fall, Bradley said, but learned that one of the families working with the couples' estate went to court to fight any removal of the house.

After some fits and starts, including a judge being away because of illness, Waterford officials were able to have the case heard in late April.

Court records indicate that Probate Judge Barry Grant has ordered that the personal representative from the Waleskowski estate may demolish the building after May 26.

"That house will come down very soon," said Michael McCulloch, a Royal Oak-based attorney for Michael Waleskowski's family. "We have made arrangements to have it demolished after May 26."

McCulloch said the delay resulted from people involved with the estate of Lorna Waleskowski needing time to investigate their claim.

Generally, demolishing any dangerous building is a lengthy process, said Bradley, unless the building is in imminent danger of collapsing.

The Waleskowski home was not in that category, he said.

Bradley said his department has had calls from three or four people asking what was being done with the house.

"We tried to keep them informed, to keep neighborhood involved. I'm sure it bothers everybody in there," Bradley said. "It was a horrific event."

Even when the township has completed all of the legal steps required to demolish, a property owner still has the right to go to circuit court to get an order to stop demolition.

McCulloch sounded grateful to people living around the house.

He said, "Michael's family wishes to thank the neighbors and township officials for their patience."
















Shame turned good cop into killer
Interview, 911 call, suicide note paint chilling picture of Waterford officer's final hours
By John Wisely
The Detroit News
DetNews.com, MI
Sep 13, 2004
http://www.detnews.com/2004/metro/0409/14/a01-273029.htm

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP — It was 4:28 a.m. on a late August morning when Officer Michael Waleskowski turned from enforcing the law to breaking it. Overwhelmed with debt, and facing a $939 property tax bill he couldn’t pay, Waleskowski, 39, tapped into the quickest source of cash he could find: he stole money from the police property room. The money belonged to a drunken driving suspect being held at the county jail.

Waleskowski was caught on tape and 26 hours later, the shame of being a good cop gone bad turned him into a killer.

Waleskowski shot his son, Hayden, 9, while the child lay sleeping in a makeshift tent in their family room. Investigators concluded that he carried the boy’s lifeless body to the bed where his mother, Lorna, slept.

Waleskowski next turned his gun on the family Chihuahua and at 6:46 a.m. on Aug. 29, he shot and killed Lorna, his wife of 15 years. He set their home on fire before climbing into the bed and shooting himself, investigators said.

The last hours of the Waleskowski family are chronicled first in police tapes of an interview with a man known to his fellow cops as a fine officer and a loving family man; in 911 calls from their home as Waleskowski went on his rampage; and in a suicide note he left taped to the driver’s side window of his truck.

“My family will forgive me, but I will never forgive myself,” Waleskowski wrote. “I know this is the coward’s way out, but I cannot go back to work after this is all over even if I had a job. I cannot leave this world and leave my family here to listen to the ridicule and whispers.”

Emmanuel Tanay, a forensic psychiatrist at Wayne State University, said the killing of a family by a suicidal member is well-documented in psychiatric research. “We are a unit; I go and the family goes with me,” Tanay said in explaining the mind-set of suicidal family members.

Waleskowski told investigators in a taped interview that he was $500 short of being able to pay his summer property tax bill. The amount he stole: $466.

“I was a few hundred bucks short,” he said on the tape. “I just spent $300 on school clothes for my kid. I spent the whole day thinking about how I could get (the stolen money) back. I thought I could slip it in a different bin so guys thought the property was given to the wrong person,” he told investigators. “It’s like pulling the trigger; once you do it, you can’t take it back.”

But property taxes were only the beginning of Waleskowski’s debt. Records show he owed $61,000 on credit cards and another $9,600 on other loans. Moreover, Oakland County deed records show the couple bought their home in Waterford in 1993 for $109,000 and took out a $99,000 mortgage. They refinanced the house nine times in the next 11 years, pushing their debt on the house to $200,000 in their last mortgage in December 2003.

Michael Waleskowski’s base salary was $55,000 a year. Overtime often pushed that up to above $70,000. He also made an undetermined amount of money working part-time as a security guard. Lorna Waleskowski’s job as a pharmacy technician for Oakland County paid $31,000 and made their combined salaries at least $86,000 a year.

His overtime and his part-time work pushed their income above $100,000 in a township where the median household income was $55,008 when the 2000 census was taken.

The family’s money woes stumped investigators who said there was no evidence that Waleskowski used drugs, gambled or had other vices more commonly linked to such extensive debts.

Colleagues saw a family man who fished and golfed with his 9-year-old son. His bosses saw a police officer who worked hard and well. Waleskowski took pride in his work and described his marriage as perfect: “We had two fights in 16 years,” he said on the tape.

“I can see someone in financial trouble stealing; you can almost understand that,” said Waterford Deputy Police Chief Dale LaCroix, who was Waleskowski’s golf partner. “But the rest, we just don’t know. No one saw it coming.”

A good cop
Michael Waleskowski was good at his job. He’d worked for the Orchard Lake Police Department for 12 years before transferring to Waterford in 1999.

Waleskowski worked midnights and served on the department’s crash reconstruction team.

“He was above average in terms of arrests and tickets,” LaCroix said.

Waleskowski’s life at home appeared equally rewarding. Waleskowski had married Lorna Naylor on June 10, 1989, and five years later, Hayden was born. Co-workers said that Waleskowski loved spending time with his son.

“When his son wasn’t in school, he would bring him with him to court,” said Police Chief John Dean. “His son just idolized him. All he wanted to be was a Waterford police officer.”

Images recorded by security cameras in the property room of the Waterford Police Department on Aug. 28 show an officer enter the property room with the lights off and retrieve a key to a property bin. The figure walks off camera momentarily.

LaCroix said a separate camera in the hallway records Waleskowski walking out of the room with a property bag under his arm at the same time.

“I grabbed the bag and took it,” Waleskowski said later, as two Sheriff’s detectives questioned him about the theft. “I’ve got it at home.”

The property in the bag belonged to a suspected drunken driver arrested six hours earlier by another officer. The driver spent the night in the Oakland County Jail and returned to Waterford about 8:30 a.m. to retrieve his things.

“The guy wanted his property,” Dean said. “The desk sergeant went down to the property room and couldn’t find it. So he told the man it was misplaced and we would contact him when we found it.”

Search continues
Dean said officers continued to search the property room throughout the day on Aug. 28. When the afternoon shift commanders came on duty at 3 p.m., they were told property was missing from an arrest on their shift.

LaCroix said commanders questioned the officer who arrested the drunken driver and he described logging the man’s property and having a fellow officer place it in a bin. The second officer confirmed his version of events, so did videotape from the security cameras.

That same tape eventually showed Waleskowski taking the bag. Commanders began an internal investigation on Waleskowski and asked the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department to send over detectives to review the criminal case.

They called in Sheriff’s deputies to head off any question about the integrity of the investigation. Also called in that night was LaCroix, who consulted with Dean by telephone. LaCroix said later that Waleskowski showed no sign of emotional distress.

Sheriff detectives reviewed the tapes and dispatch logs and prepared to question Waleskowski. It was after midnight when they tried to bring him in, but he was assisting on a K-9 track of a break-in suspect and took more than an hour to clear his call, LaCroix said.

About 2 a.m. investigators sat Waleskowski in an interview room facing a video camera.

Waleskowski first said he visited the property room twice during his shift, both times to log property from people he’d arrested. He denied returning a third time.

“You did return,” one of the detectives told him. “It’s you clear as a bell on tape. You’re not doing too good. It’s on videotape.”

Took bag home
Waleskowski’s hands moved from his chin to under his nose, but his demeanor changed little. He then admitted taking the bag and hiding it in an evidence room until the end of his shift, when he took it home.

The detectives asked Waleskowski to sign a form allowing them to search his house and retrieve the property. He agreed. They said they wanted to call his wife, so she wouldn’t be startled by the officers in the home, but he became reluctant.

Waleskowski said his wife took sleeping pills. “She’ll never wake up,” Waleskowski said.

He eventually accompanied officers to his home. They recovered the property bag from a shed attached to the house. The money was inside the home.

Waleskowski surrendered his service weapon and a personal gun he kept at home. Officers did not know he had another weapon, the one he used for the killings.

After investigators finished talking to Waleskowski at the station, he went home a final time. Some fellow officers went with him and it was after 3 a.m. when they left him there. Waleskowski assured them he would be fine.

At 4 a.m. he sat down at a computer and typed out a suicide note. He addressed it to Dean, LaCroix and his fellow officers. He taped the note on the driver’s window of his truck parked in the driveway.

Investigators concluded that Waleskowski killed his son first. He died from a single gunshot to the head.

Waleskowski apparently carried the boy’s body upstairs and placed him in bed with his sleeping mother.

Someone calls 911
At 6:46 a.m. someone in the home dialed 911 but said nothing. The department’s computer system recorded sounds from the line even before the dispatcher answered the phone, which is possible through 911 recording technology.

The sound of a single gunshot is heard on the tape just before the dispatcher picks up the phone. Investigators believe that shot killed the family’s Chihuahua.

After the dispatcher hung up because there was no response, the computer continued recording what sounds like a groggy woman’s voice saying “Hello.”

Another gunshot can be heard on the tape before it stops recording. Ninety seconds later a neighbor called 911 to report seeing smoke coming from the home. When fire crews arrived, flames were pouring out the windows.

LaCroix said gasoline had been poured throughout the home. The entire family and the dog were found in the bed, Dean said.

Officers have grappled with how to move past the tragedy. Dean said he’s been criticized for the handling of the incident, but he can’t see how anything could have been done differently.

Waleskowski gave no indication what he was planning, Dean said.

“When he stole that property, it was a gross violation of public trust,” Dean said. “We couldn’t look the other way. That badge is bigger than all of us.”









Many Are Stunned, Puzzled By Cop's Killing of Family
09/01/2004
By Frank Witsil
Detroit Free Press
http://www.policeone.com/policeone/frontend/parser.cfm?object=NewDivisions&rel=39116&operation=full_article&id=91511

As they planned his funeral, those who knew Mike Waleskowski said they never could have imagined that he would have killed his family – and then himself.

But, psychologists said, as irrational an act as it may have seemed, suicide among police officers is more common than most people know. And, they said, in Waleskowski's mind, he was trying to save himself and his family from what he believed would have been terrible shame after he was suspended from his job as a Waterford police officer.

"These are people who get deeply depressed," Louis Schlesinger, a forensic psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said of fathers who kill their families.

"They do it to save them from the humiliation they would have to endure. They see it as the only way out."

The crime, known as familicide, is rare and poorly understood Schlesinger said.

The 911 hang-up call made from inside the house might have been Waleskowski, trying to get help, Schlesinger said. Just before he took his life Sunday morning, Waleskowski wrote and signed a one-page, typewritten letter to Waterford Police Chief John Dean, police said.

Waleskowski left it in his minivan parked in the driveway, police said.

Dean would not reveal what the letter said. Other officers who saw it, however, said Waleskowski must have written it just after he was sent home. In it, Waleskowski expressed remorse and apologized to the chief and the entire department for what he had done.

Waleskowski, who was caught on a surveillance camera allegedly taking about $500 from an arrested suspect's wallet, was confronted in the middle of his shift that started at 9 p.m. Saturday and sent to his Waterford home at 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

"He was possibly involved in a felony," Dean said. "We had to take action."

As questions about the deaths swirled Tuesday, people who knew Waleskowski said there were no signs that he would kill himself or anyone else.

"I had nothing to indicate any of this," Dean said. But, Dean said, there was no thought of arresting Waleskowski. There was no reason to suspect that he would flee, he said. His badge and gun were taken from him, and he was suspended from the department."There's not a police department in the world that would have arrested him," Dean said.

Nevertheless, police said, when Waleskowski got home, he used another gun -- a small-caliber semiautomatic -- to shoot and kill his 40-year-old wife, Lorna; 9-year-old son, Hayden, and the family's dog.

He then set fire to the house and shot himself in the head.

Police said the family was found together in the second-floor bedroom. Oakland County Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic said Lorna Waleskowski and her son were probably killed in their sleep and died before the fire was set.

Before joining the Waterford Police Department five years ago, Waleskowski was a patrol officer with the Orchard Lake Police Department for a decade. He earned outstanding performance evaluations there, colleagues said.

Lorna Waleskowski would bring him homemade dinners, and he often bragged about Hayden.

The killings were "totally out of character," Orchard Lake Police Chief Fred Rosenau said.

Robert Wolford, a State Police psychologist in Lansing, said the suicide rate for police is two to three times higher than the national average. Often, he said, it is because they run into a situation that they cannot fix or one that will elicit shame.

In about 80 percent of the cases, he said, officers try to get help.

Still, Wolford said, many departments are not aware that suicide rates are so high among police, and there are no standard protocols to deal with officers who might seem suicidal, he said.

Some departments turn to chaplains to help. On Monday, Waterford police brought in a priest to comfort people in the department. "There is going to be a lot of anguish," said Joyce Gulley, a grief counselor for the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office. She consoled the survivors of the Waleskowski family who traveled from Ohio and Florida.

Many colleagues, schoolmates and police officers will be grieving, she said. Despite the homicides and suicide, she said, Waleskowski was a part of the Waterford Police Department -- and those who worked with him will feel a loss.

A memorial service for the family and visitation is scheduled for 3 pm. to 9 p.m. today at Riverside Chapel Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Faith Baptist Church, 3411 Airport Road, also in Waterford. The family will be cremated.












Cop's relatives forgive him for killing family
Detroit Free Press
September 2, 2004
By Frank Witsil
http://www.freep.com/news/mich/date2e_20040902.htm

Before a memorial service for Waterford Police Officer Mike Waleskowski, his wife, Lorna, and their son, Hayden, the family's survivors issued a statement Wednesday saying that the officer who killed his family and then himself was human -- and they forgive him.

Near the shade of a tall oak outside the Riverside Chapel Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home in Waterford, the Waterford deputy police chief, Dan McCaw, read the relatives' statement. McCaw said they were too distraught to deliver the message.

Mike Waleskowski, 39, was under investigation for theft. After being suspended from his job early Sunday morning, he went home, typed a suicide note and sometime before 6:45 a.m., shot and killed his 40-year-old wife, Lorna, their son, Hayden, 9, and the family dog.

Then he set fire to the house and shot himself in the head.

"Michael acknowledged to the rest of the family that he understood we would suffer the consequences and asked our forgiveness. He has it," the note said.

"The family acknowledges that this tragedy affects many others outside the immediate family; we grieve with all of you."

A funeral service is set for today at Faith Baptist Church, 3411 Airport Road in Waterford.









Sorrow and disbelief, but no bagpipes for cop who killed family
September 1, 2004
BY BRIAN DICKERSONFREE PRESS COLUMNIST
http://www.freep.com/news/metro/dickerson1e_20040901.htm

This isn't how it's supposed to be.

When a police officer dies young, there should be pomp and ceremony.

There should be a motorcade 6 miles long, including patrol cars from places the fallen officer has never been to.

There should be striped trouser legs creased to a razor's edge, black oxfords buffed to a high sheen and gleaming badges taped with black bands of mourning.

There should be a flag, and white-gloved hands to fold it, and proud family members to hand it to.

Police officers in Waterford took part in such a ritual just a few months ago, when their colleague Nicole Davis' husband, an officer in the Bloomfield Township Police Department, was killed in the line of duty.

Uniformed mourners from five states escorted Gary Davis to his final resting place. Bagpipers played. Students from Lahser High School, where Gary Davis had worked as a liaison officer, presented his wife with a videotape commemorating his life. Michael Waleskowski's funeral won't be like that.

Waleskowski took his own life Sunday morning after fatally shooting his wife, son and dog and setting the house they'd all lived in afire.

The Waterford police officer's last night shift had ended abruptly a few hours earlier, when a supervisor told Waleskowski he was under investigation for theft, collected his badge and gun and sent him home.

In a suicide note addressed to Waterford Police Chief John Dean, Waleskowski expressed shame at his predicament and said he'd killed his wife and child so they wouldn't have to share his humiliation.

His wife's relatives lived out of state, he explained; once he was gone, there'd be no one nearby to help her and their 9-year-old son.

But Dean, a father of four, is having no part of Waleskowski's sympathetic self-portrait.

In his final hours, the chief told his subordinates, Waleskowski surrendered any claim to the public honors normally due a police officer. And so there will be no 21-gun salute, no bagpipes keening, no badges striped with black bands.

Not like MikeDean's anger and revulsion are primal; any parent, any human being, can understand them.

Confronted with such evil -- or, if you prefer the psychological model, such derangement -- the last thing any of us wants to do is acknowledge the perpetrator as one of our own species, much less one of our own profession.

But Joyce Gulley, who works for the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office, has little choice.

Gulley's job is to counsel those whose loved ones end up in the medical examiner's storage vaults.

Tuesday, she was helping Michael and Lorna Waleskowski's stunned relatives make funeral arrangements. The circumstances, Gulley acknowledged, were extraordinary -- "one of the tragedies of all time" -- but the decisions to be reckoned with were practical ones. One funeral service or three? Cremation or burial?

Late Tuesday afternoon, family members opted for cremation of the Waleskowskis' remains and a single funeral service at Waterford's First Baptist Church.

Gulley, who is the spouse of a police officer, finds Michael Waleskowski's actions as incomprehensible as anyone else.

But after witnessing his family's grief, she cannot indulge the comforting delusion that Waleskowski belonged to some separate, alien species.

"When people lose their way and can't find their way back," she says, "well ... it just touches so many lives."











Many are puzzled by killing of family
Cop likely saw death as only rescue from shame, experts say
September 1, 2004
BY FRANK WITSIL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
http://www.freep.com/news/locoak/homefire1n_20040901.htm

As they planned his funeral, those who knew Mike Waleskowski said they never could have imagined that he would have killed his family – and then himself.

But, psychologists said, as irrational an act as it may have seemed, suicide among police officers is more common than most people know. And, they said, in Waleskowski's mind, he was trying to save himself and his family from what he believed would have been terrible shame after he was suspended from his job as a Waterford police officer.

"These are people who get deeply depressed," Louis Schlesinger, a forensic psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said of fathers who kill their families.

"They do it to save them from the humiliation they would have to endure. They see it as the only way out."

The crime, known as familicide, is rare and poorly understood Schlesinger said.

The 911 hang-up call made from inside the house might have been Waleskowski, trying to get help, Schlesinger said.

Just before he took his life Sunday morning, Waleskowski wrote and signed a one-page, typewritten letter to Waterford Police Chief John Dean, police said. Waleskowski left it in his minivan parked in the driveway, police said.

Dean would not reveal what the letter said. Other officers who saw it, however, said Waleskowski must have written it just after he was sent home. In it, Waleskowski expressed remorse and apologized to the chief and the entire department for what he had done.

Waleskowski, who was caught on a surveillance camera allegedly taking about $500 from an arrested suspect's wallet, was confronted in themiddle of his shift that started at 9 p.m. Saturday and sent to his Waterford home at 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

"He was possibly involved in a felony," Dean said. "We had to take action."

As questions about the deaths swirled Tuesday, people who knew Waleskowski said there were no signs that he would kill himself or anyone else."I had nothing to indicate any of this," Dean said.

But, Dean said, there was no thought of arresting Waleskowski. There was no reason to suspect that he would flee, he said. His badge and gun were taken from him, and he was suspended from the department.

"There's not a police department in the world that would have arrested him," Dean said.

Nevertheless, police said, when Waleskowski got home, he used another gun -- a small-caliber semiautomatic -- to shoot and kill his 40-year-old wife, Lorna; 9-year-old son, Hayden, and the family's dog.

He then set fire to the house and shot himself in the head.

Police said the family was found together in the second-floor bedroom.

Oakland County Medical Examiner L.J. Dragovic said Lorna Waleskowski and her son were probably killed in their sleep and died before the fire was set.

Before joining the Waterford Police Department five years ago, Waleskowski was a patrol officer with the Orchard Lake Police Department for a decade. He earned outstanding performance evaluations there, colleagues said.

Lorna Waleskowski would bring him homemade dinners, and he often bragged about Hayden.

The killings were "totally out of character," Orchard Lake Police Chief Fred Rosenau said. Robert Wolford, a State Police psychologist in Lansing, said the suicide rate for police is two to three times higher than the national average. Often, he said, it is because they run into a situation that they cannot fix or one that will elicit shame.

In about 80 percent of the cases, he said, officers try to get help.

Still, Wolford said, many departments are not aware that suicide rates are so high among police, and there are no standard protocols to deal with officers who might seem suicidal, he said.

Some departments turn to chaplains to help. On Monday, Waterford police brought in a priest to comfort people in the department.

"There is going to be a lot of anguish," said Joyce Gulley, a grief counselor for the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office. She consoled the survivors of the Waleskowski family who traveled from Ohio and Florida.

Many colleagues, schoolmates and police officers will be grieving, she said. Despite the homicides and suicide, she said, Waleskowski was a part of the Waterford Police Department -- and those who worked with him will feel a loss.

A memorial service for the family and visitation is scheduled for 3 pm. to 9 p.m. today at Riverside Chapel Simpson-Modetz Funeral Home, 5630 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford.


A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Faith Baptist Church, 3411 Airport Road, also in Waterford. The family will be cremated.












Suspended Officer Kills Family, Self; Sets House Afire
Man Accused Of Stealing $500 From Police Fund
POSTED: 9:18 a.m. EDT August 30, 2004
UPDATED: 6:34 p.m. EDT August 30, 2004
http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/3690485/detail.html

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A Waterford Township police officer shot andkilled his wife, child, and himself after he was suspended from the department early Sunday, according to Local 4 reports.

Police announced in a 3 p.m. press conference that an investigation revealed that Officer Mike Waleskowski killed his 40-year-old wife, Lorna, and their 9-year-old son, Hayden, in their home on Meadowview Drive.

Police say Waleskowski, 40, set the house on fire to cover up their deaths and his suicide moments later, the station reported.

Authorities believe Waleskowski's suspension from the force may have motivated the attack.

Waleskowski was being investigated both criminally and internally for the theft of money and had been suspended from the Waterford Police Department, according to Chief John Dean, of the Waterford Police Department.

Waleskowski allegedly stole about $500 from a police department fund.

"They called him in, in the middle of his shift, and took his gun and his badge away and drove him home at 3:30 in the morning," said Beth Wright, a family friend.

The bodies were discovered in the home after the fire broke out about 6:45 a.m. Sunday.

Neighbors said they tried to save the family from the fire.

It was initially believed they were trapped inside the fire, but the Oakland County medical examiner ruled Monday that the victims died from gunshot wounds to the head.

Neighbor John Bojczyk said as he grabbed a hose to help put out the flames, he then heard gunshots.

Neighbors reportedly backed away from the home until firefighters arrived.

The fire was extinguished within 15 minutes, Local 4 reported. The family was believed to be in the second floor of the home, which collapsed. The Waleskowskis reportedly lived in the home for 10 years.

Three firefighters were injured while fighting the blaze, according to Waterford police. They were sent to a hospital for treatment.

"Needless to say, it's a pretty tragic day for the members of the Waterford Police Department and the community," Dean said after hearing the news Sunday.

Hayden was expected to begin fifth grade at Haviland Elementary School Monday. His former teacher, Kathryn Kluesner, said the family was remarkable and very close knit.

"It's a terrible loss," said Kluesner.

Rhonda Lessel of the Waterford School District said counseling would be available to students Monday.

"Mike worshiped her and he adored Hayden and I just can't believe he did this," said Wright.

Police say Waleskowski left behind a suicide note."From what I understand, the note said he could not live with the disgrace," Wright said.










Suspended Michigan Cop Shot Family, Burned House, Then Turned The Gun On Himself
DAVID RUNK
Associated Press
Updated: August 31st, 2004 11:42:34 AM
http://www.officer.com/article/article.jsp?id=16592&siteSection=5

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- A suspended police officer under criminal investigation shot his wife and 9-year-old son before killing himself as part of a double murder-suicide, his department said Monday.

The bodies of Officer Michael Waleskowski, his wife Lorna and son Hayden were found inside their Waterford Township home Sunday morning. When authorities arrived, the house was engulfed in flames, but Robert Gerds, administrator for the Oakland County medical examiner's office, said all three died from gunshot wounds to the head.

He said Waleskowski's manner of death was determined to be suicide, while the others were homicides.Waterford Township Police Chief John Dean said Waleskowski was under criminal and internal investigation for allegations of stealing money.

He said Waleskowski had been suspended because of the investigation, but didn't give any more details.

``We now believe that Officer Mike Waleskowski killed his wife, his 9-year-old son and then killed himself,'' Dean told reporters at a news conference. After reading from a prepared statement, Dean took no questions. ``It's a very difficult time for all of us,'' Dean said.

Beth White, a family friend who came to the police department for the news conference, said afterward that Waleskowski was suspended during his shift just hours before the 6:45 a.m. EDT fire was reported.

White said neither she nor others who knew Waleskowski thought he was capable of killing his family.

``I don't think they can believe it either,'' White said of Waleskowski's police colleagues. ``They're all in shock. They were his friends."

'Neither police nor fire officials would say what role the fire played in the double murder-suicide.

Dennis Storrs, the township fire chief, said there was a high probability that flammable liquids were involved in the fire, which injured three firefighters who battled the blaze.

``The house was literally an inferno,'' Storrs said.

The bodies were found in bedrooms on the upper floor of the two-story house where the Waleskowskis had lived for at least 10 years, authorities said Sunday.

Storrs on Monday declined to discuss details of what firefighters found inside the home, noting that the investigation into the deaths was ongoing.

Waleskowski was a five-year veteran of the police department in Waterford Township, about 35 miles northwest of Detroit.

Hayden would have started fifth grade Monday at Haviland Elementary School, where he was a student since kindergarten, said district spokeswoman Rhonda Lessel.

Lessel said the school's roughly 54 fifth graders were told Monday that a one of the school's students died in a fire, and that a letter was sent home with children to parents explaining the situation. She also said the school had counselors and psychologists available to talk with the children.







[MI POLICE OFFICER INVOLVED PERPETRATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW ENFORCEMENT MURDER SUICIDE]

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