UPDATED: Janesville police say wife shot herself after domestic stabbing incident

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Frank Schultz
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

JANESVILLE--A woman attacked her husband with a knife and then killed herself with a handgun at their home on Janesville's west side early Wednesday morning, police said.

Hollie Rowan, 31, shot herself with a .357-caliber handgun, Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The shooting came after Hollie and her husband, Carl Rowan, 32, argued and after Hollie stabbed Carl and herself with a knife from the kitchen, Moore said.

Carl Rowan has been a Wisconsin state trooper since 2002 and was an employee in good standing at the time of the incident, Moore said.

Rowan was off duty at the time of his wife's death, Moore said.

Police do not suspect Carl Rowan in the death.

“He was a victim of domestic violence,” Moore said.

Moore laid out the series of events that convinced investigators the death was a suicide:

The couple argued sometime before 3 a.m., and Hollie Rowan stabbed Carl in the hand. She then stabbed herself in the arm. 

Carl Rowan then called 911, and Hollie can be heard continuing the argument during that conversation, Moore said.

Carl stayed on the phone and left the house at 1318 Mole Ave. Police responding to the scene knew that both the husband and wife had been stabbed.

Carl met police about a half block from the residence and told them his wife was in the home and might have a handgun.

The 911 call lasted six minutes, 31 seconds, and Carl Rowan seemed calm throughout, Moore said.

Officers entered the house and found Hollie dead, apparently from the gunshot, in a bedroom.

Carl had bought the weapon for his wife some time ago for personal protection, Moore said.

Carl Rowan's wound required eight stitches, Moore said.

No one heard the gunshot, not even children who were asleep in the home. The couple have two children. A third child, an “extended family member,” also was at the home, Moore said.

The bedroom is carpeted and has thick double drapes because Carl Rowan works third shift, Moore said. Also muffling the noise was the fact that Hollie Rowan was low and near the bed, and the barrel was pressed against her when it went off, Moore said.

Other details at the scene were consistent with suicide, Moore said.

Hollie would have been arrested on a domestic-violence charge if she had not died, Moore said.

The children are safe and being cared for, Moore said, but he would not say where or how.

Moore said he thought it important for police to be as transparent as possible in a case that involved a law enforcement officer, which is why he held the news conference.

The couple had experienced conflicts months ago, but police had never been called to their residence for any domestic incidents, Moore said.

Hollie had made threats to kill herself but not recently, police learned during the investigation, Moore said.

Domestic violence touches people in all walks of life, Moore said, and “we hope these issues can be addressed before these tragic circumstances occur.”

Whether something could have been done to prevent this most recent tragedy is “almost impossible” to know because each case is different, said Angela Moore, executive director of the local YWCA, who also spoke at the news conference.

Angela Moore quoted statistics, saying Wisconsin experienced 89 domestic-violence-related deaths in 2011-12 and that three of those were in Rock County.

The YWCA offers a 24-hour help line, a domestic-violence shelter, legal advocacy, help with restraining orders, support groups, case management, safety planning and mental health referrals, Moore said.

Janesville police: Woman stabbed husband, shot herself (15:31)

Through the first five months of this year, the YWCA has helped with 45 cases of domestic violence, provided legal help in 34 cases and provided 3,188 shelter nights to women and children, Moore said.

The YWCA will refer men to counseling, police, or medical providers, depending on their need, but the organization does not provide any direct services to men, Moore said.

Men are usually the perpetrators of domestic violence, but they also can be victims. Statewide, men were the perpetrators in 72 percent of cases in 2011 and 86 percent in 2012.

Gazette reporter Nick Crow covered the Janesville police news conference live via Twitter. Read his updates below.

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