The Waukesha County Court Commissioner ordered a $1 million cash bail this afternoon for the woman charged with stabbing her two-month-old baby to death last Saturday at their home in the Town of Oconomowoc. In a separate appearance, the court commissioner set her husband's bail at $100,000, after he allegedly failed to report the death of the child.
Dana M. Hooper, 32, and her husband, Kevin J. Hooper, 33, both of the Town of Oconomowoc, made their initial appearances in court today, as they were both formally charged with felonies in the death of their two-month-old daughter.
Shackled at the wrists and feet, Dana Hooper appeared in court wearing the county jail's green suicide vest, as she was formally charged with first degree intentional homicide for allegedly stabbing her baby multiple times with a kitchen knife.
In addition to the $1 million cash bail, the court commissioner ordered that she have no contact with her husband or their children.
Kevin Hooper, clad in an orange prison suit, was also barred from having contact with his children or his wife. He was charged with failure to report the death of a child, a class I felony punishable by a maximum of up to a $10,000 fine and 3 1/2 years in prison.
Dana Hooper has no prior criminal record besides speeding tickets in 2008 and 2010, but prosecutors suggested that she may have been suffering from a mental illness at the time of the murder.
"It's certainly going to take some examinations by experts and some more investigation into circumstances leading up to Saturday to have better certainty about what's going on, but this case clearly cries out with some very serious mental health issues," Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said after today's hearing. "There is no rational explanation for what happened. All the explanations that make any sense whatsoever are completely irrational."
Schimel indicated that Hooper may have been suffering from postpartum depression in the month leading up to the incident.
She faces life in prison, if convicted.
Court Commissioner Laura Lau called the circumstances surrounding the murder, "about the most frightening that I've ever read."
According to the criminal complaint, a Town of Oconomowoc police officer responded to W353 N5950 Lisbon Rd. regarding a report of a two-month old baby that had allegedly been stabbed to death by her mother.
The officer arrived at the home at 5:50 p.m., where he was greeted by Kevin Hooper, who eventually informed him that his two-month old daughter was in a pack 'n play in the living room. The report proved true when the officer saw the lifeless baby, wrapped in a blanket inside a laundry basket, which was inside the pack 'n play.
Emergency medical personnel responded to the home and pronounced the baby dead at the scene, and a subsequent autopsy conducted by the Waukesha County Medical Examiner revealed that the baby had died as a result of a large number of stab wounds to the chest and torso area. Hooper later told police that she stabbed the baby approximately six or seven times.
The original call to first responders came from Rogers Memorial Hospital, where Dana Hooper had checked in earlier in the afternoon, based on a report that she was suicidal. After speaking with hospital staff, she allegedly revealed that she had killed her baby and that no one had yet alerted authorities, the complaint alleged.
Police responded to the hospital to speak with Dana Hooper, who allegedly stated things like, "psychotic", "no sleep in five days", postpartum in the past", and "new medication."
She allegedly told police that her new medication was Sertraline, and she made statements about hearing voices in her head that told her to kill her baby.
Dana Hooper said she started taking the medication four or five days before the incident.
According to the criminal complaint, at one point she stated, "I'm going to tell you the truth. I thought they were spiritual warfare at our house. Voices in my head, God's voice, told me to kill my baby because it was satanic."
Hooper later told detectives that she remembered voices telling her they were going to kill her, that she should kill herself, and that she should kill the baby.
She allegedly told hospital staff that the voices stopped as soon as she killed her two-month old daughter and that she could not believe what she had done. Hooper also stated that she felt she was going to go to hell, the complaint stated.
The mother of three stated that she did not feel like it was her stabbing the baby and thought that maybe she was possessed.
Neither her nor her husband called an ambulance after the baby's killing. Instead, they allegedly went to the hospital to check her in for psychiatric help.
In a statement, Kevin Hooper told police that he had been concerned about his wife over the last month. He said he had spent the morning painting and playing with the couple's other two children. At approximately 1 p.m., he brought the other two children inside for lunch and saw blood on his wife's hands. She allegedly admitted to him that she killed the baby approximately an hour before and that she left it upstairs in the couple's bedroom.
The complaint stated that he thought he should call an ambulance but that he knew the baby was already dead. Instead, he allegedly called the hospital to get his wife admitted. He never told hospital staff about the baby's murder.
The Hoopers' other two children accompanied them to the hospital while the baby lay dead at their home. Shortly after admitting his wife to the hospital, Kevin Hooper returned home with his children. At approximately 5:17 p.m., a woman from the hospital called and said that his wife told hospital staff that she had killed the baby. The woman wanted to know if anyone had called an ambulance. Kevin Hooper said he had not but that he would call police once his father-in-law arrived to help with the kids.
Police arrived a short time later.
In court, Kevin Hooper's attorney, who tried to persuade the court to grant his client access to his two remaining children, said Kevin Hooper posed no threat to his children and that while he exercised poor judgment in not immediately reporting the crime, his intent that day was to protect his children.
The court commissioner questioned why Hooper never thought to call an ambulance or alert authorities.
"Bad decision making? That is the understatement of the year," she said, adding that she believed that he still posed a threat to his children.
The Hoopers have a two-year-old and a three-year-old who have been temporarily placed with a family member.
Dana Hooper's next court hearing is set for Oct. 3 at 1:15 p.m., while her husband will be in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 18 at 8:15 a.m. The district attorney said their two cases should be tried separately because there was a strong possibility of an insanity plea from Dana Hooper.