Stabbing victim was involved in custody fight
By Tom Kertscher of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Oct. 2, 2009
Oconomowoc — The woman found stabbed to death in her home Thursday was entangled in a custody dispute with her former boyfriend over their 4-year-old son, who also was home at the time of the slaying, authorities said Friday.
The custody proceedings were favoring Kimberly Ann Smith, 39, and not her 41-year-old former boyfriend, court records show.
But the Lubbock, Texas, man has denied involvement in the slaying and has been cooperative with Texas authorities who contacted him on behalf of Wisconsin authorities, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said.
Schimel said the man is to travel to Wisconsin next week in connection with the custody case and could be questioned then in the slaying.
Smith's current boyfriend, who lived with her and her son, Jackson, found Smith's body in the living room of their home in the 300 block of S. Maple St. He called 911 at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Police Chief David Beguhn said.
The boyfriend said he had left for work about 6 a.m. and returned after learning that Smith didn't show up at her job, according to Beghun.
He said he does not believe that Jackson witnessed his mother's stabbing.
Court records show that Smith and Jackson's father, who previously lived together in Germantown and in Pennsylvania, have been fighting for more than two years in Washington County Circuit Court over custody of the boy.
In July, Jackson's father was ordered to spend 60 days in jail after being held in contempt of court, but the jail time was to be imposed only if he failed to follow certain conditions for a year, records show.
He had lied about where he was living and failed to make court-ordered payments.
Milwaukee lawyer Jane Probst, who represented Smith, said Jackson's father was informed last week about a Texas social worker's recommendation regarding custody of the boy.
Probst said she did not know the recommendation. It was to be revealed in court, along with the recommendation of a Washington County social worker, at a hearing Oct. 15, she said.
The recommendations were to be filed with the court by Thursday, the day Smith was killed.
"Sad, sad situation for that little boy," said Jerry Becker, the attorney who represents Jackson in the custody proceedings. "From everything I know, he seems to be a kid everybody loves."
Probst said Smith worked in employee benefits for the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services and used to lead trail rides at the former Swinging W horse ranch in the Town of Eagle.
"She really seemed to have a good heart," Probst said.
A statement from Smith's family said she was "very dedicated" to Jackson "and worked hard to provide him with the best love and care a parent could provide. She approached every day with enthusiasm and goodwill for others. Her sudden loss has created an extreme void for many people who love her dearly."
Beguhn said police have recovered a knife they believe was used to kill Smith. He said there was no sign of forced entry into her home, and no neighbors reported hearing or seeing anything.
Jackson is with family in Wisconsin, the chief said.
The last homicide in Oconomowoc was the ax murder of Gloria Jean Totzke, 59, who was killed in her bed in 2006. Her son, Mark Totzke, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Beguhn said that before Totzke was killed, there had not been a murder in the city for 29 years.
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