Police: Fond du Lac woman stabbed multiple times in domestic violence killing

Investigators believe Jacquelyn Jo Rooney was trying to get out of the relationship. Then her body was found, stabbed and beaten.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 7:40 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:38 PM CST
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FOND DU LAC COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Fond du Lac woman was stabbed multiple times and suffered head trauma in a domestic violence killing, police say.

Jacquelyn Jo Rooney, 51, was found dead Nov. 12 at her apartment on E. Merrill Avenue.

Gary E. Davis, 57, was charged Tuesday with 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, Mayhem, and Hiding a Corpse, and now could face the rest of his life in prison. Police say he had been in an “intimate relationship” with Rooney.

Police had been called to perform a welfare check on Rooney after she failed to show up to her appointments at a methadone clinic for three days.

Officers entered the apartment and found Rooney wrapped in a sleeping bag and covered in blankets and debris.

Police say they found pools of blood on the ground and possible blood spatter on surfaces in the apartment.

“Initial evidence reflected numerous penetrating knife wounds as well as some type of trauma to Jacquelyn’s head, which was consistent with preliminary autopsy finding of multiple stab wounds to her body and blunt force trauma to her head,” said Police Chief Aaron Goldstein.

An autopsy revealed she was stabbed more than 12 times in the torso, three separate skull fractures from blunt force trauma, and a broken jaw.

Detectives processed evidence, and video and conducted interviews. They developed Davis as a person of interest and executed a search warrant at his apartment. Davis was arrested on Nov. 16, Charges were filed Tuesday.

At the scene, detectives found a pair of white athletic shoes with blood. Court documents say Davis admitted the shoes were his but he didn’t know where the blood came from. the complaint also says Davis acknowledged moving Rooney’s vehicle to the parking lot of a local bar, but he couldn’t recall how he got the keys or how they were returned to Rooney’s purse.

During a court hearing, which Davis joined remotely from the county jail, a judge ordered Davis held on a $2 million cash bond. The prosecutor called it a “vicious homicide” and called Davis a “flight risk” after listing his lengthy criminal record, which includes a 2019 arrest warrant for failure to appear in court.

“I thought it was appropriate given the nature of the particular charges, the potential penalties. As I noted in court, there was a prior arrest warrant, and the goal of cash bond, at currently least in Wisconsin, is only to ensure the defendant makes an appearance in court. and given the circumstances in this case it felt like an appropriate number to ensure the defendant would make appearances in court,” said District Attorney Eric Toney. “We do have some efforts right now to change the Wisconsin constitution so we can consider the dangerousness of a defendant when a judge is setting bail and some other proposals I hope we’ll see in the upcoming legislative session.”

Police say Davis and Rooney were in a relationship that Rooney may have been trying to end, prompting the district attorney and Fond du Lac’s chief of police to bring attention to domestic abuse.

“Each year, we respond to a very substantial number of domestic violence-related incidents in our community,” Chief Goldstein said. “Instances of domestic violence have been, and remain by far, the leading cause of all violent crime in our community.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence, there are resources available for you. CLICK HERE for a list of places to find help.

“We have as an added responsibility right now in our patrol division that we have domestic violence intervention trained officers. And they make a lot more contacts when we go to things that are domestic trouble that don’t rise to the level of a crime, and they get those resources out,” Goldstein says.

The chief continued, “What we are looking for in the future is one of our strategic goals. We’re going to have a full-time domestic violence intervention-trained officer that is actually going to focus even more on what is our leading cause of violent crime.”

Investigators are still asking the public for any information on this case. Davis’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.