4 Charged with Murdering Woman in Portage 6/21/07
According to the search warrant released by Portage police, 15-year-old Felicia Garlin says she helped bury her own mother, 36-year-old Tammy Garlin.
According to the criminal complaint, Felicia Garlin said, "Mike (Michael Sisk) dug the hole in the backyard. After this Garlin helped Mike place Tammy in the hole while Candice (Clark) acted as a look out."
The complaint goes on to say that Felicia Garlin and Clark planted flowers over the grave as a way to hide the body.
"Everything that is in the complaint is corroborated through the medical evidence or through another person involved,” Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said.
Read the whole criminal complaint - CONTAINS GRAPHIC MATERIAL NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL READERS
Felicia Garlin has now been charged as an adult with party to first-degree intentional homicide.
Suspects Michael Sisk, Candice Clark and Michaela Clerc were also indicted with a slew of charges. The three adults, all in their 20s, and the teenager were charged Wednesday with a total of 43 counts altogether. Clark and Sisk were denied bail.
"He (Sisk) is a risk to the community, both financially, and of course, physically, and he is an extreme risk of flight," Kohlwey said.
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, authorities would not say specifically why Felicia Garlin was charged in the murder, instead of being considered another victim under the control of the adults around her. Investigators said it was clear from their perspective that Felicia Garlin was a full participant and not coerced.
An autopsy concluded that Tammie Garlin likely died of strangulation. The complaint, citing statements from some of the defendants, says Tammie Garlin died around June 4 after they repeatedly kicked her and dropped her on her head when they were moving her to the bathroom.
The four then put her body in the trunk of a car and buried her the next day in the backyard, the complaint said.
The complaint said Clark and Sisk were boyfriend and girlfriend and Clerc and Tammie Garlin were lovers for five years. Clerc was angry because she thought Tammie Garlin had cheated on her, the complaint said.
TRACING THE STEPS OF THE GROUP
The group -- including Clark's three young children and Garlin's son and daughter -- had lived in several states over the past year and recently moved to Wisconsin to "see snow," the complaint said.
Authorities tried to clarify the nature of the relationships in the household. They believe that in early fall of 2006, Michaela Clerc, Tammie Garlin and her two children were living at the same address in Florida. At about the same time, Clerc and Tammie Garlin were involved in a relationship together.
In October, Tammie Garlin and her kids left. After they left, Clerc met Clark online.
"Candice hooked up with Michaela," one investigator stated in the press conferees. Tammie Garlin and her kids eventually came back to the residence in Florida.
For a time, they left to go to Colorado. During that time, Clerc’s parents had custody of Clark’s two small children. The Garlins, Clerc and Clark met up with Sisk in Colorado. As far as authorities can tell, Clark and Sisk have been in a relationship, at least sporadically, for several years. The two youngest children found at the Portage home, a 3-month old and a 15-month old, were Sisk's children as well as Clark's.
After leaving Colorado, they all went back to Florida for two weeks. After a stop in Maine and several other Wisconsin towns, the whole group finally settled in Portage in February.
Authorities took the four into custody after an investigation into Clark's missing 2-year-old daughter, Courtney, led them to the rental property in Portage, about 40 miles north of Madison. Courtney is not Sisk's child. It is likely Clark took the child from Clerc's parents without court permission and ran, which began the investigation.
TORTURE, ABUSE OF A CHILD
Portage police found extension cords, pliers and a brand new hacksaw, shovel and rake inside that Portage home. Clerc told police the pliers were used to torture an 11-year-old boy who was found locked in an upstairs closet inside a bedroom.
The search warrant says the closet where the abused 11-year-old boy was kept had been nailed shut. The search warrant says, "There was an injury to his head. There appeared to be a large burn on his thigh and he had streaks of what appeared to be blood on him."
The charges against the four include hiding Tammie Garlin's body and the abuse of the 11-year-old boy. The boy told authorities he was repeatedly burned with hot water by the four, including by his sister Felicia, who laughed as she burned him, the complaint said.
The boy said the four would tie his hands behind his back and his legs together and then put him in the bathtub where they would run scalding hot water over him, the complaint said. During such occasions, they would threaten to drown him.
His sister, Clark and Sisk also strangled him multiple times, and punched and kicked him in the stomach and face, the boy told authorities.
The boy also said he was whipped almost daily with a belt and extension cords, and typically forced to get naked and locked in a closet in his sister's bedroom, where he slept.
Law enforcement officials have said it was the worst case of child abuse they've seen.
The boy also told authorities that, at first, his mother participated in abusing him, but then she herself became a victim of the same abuse, sometimes being scalded with him in the bathtub.
Donations to help the four children in the house should be directed to "Portage Cares" and sent to any of the following banks:
· Amcore Bank, 611 E. Wisconsin St., Portage, WI 53901
· Portage National Bank, 2830 New Pinery Road, Portage, WI 53901
· Associated Bank, 222 E. Wisconsin St., Portage, WI 53901
· Community Bank of Portage, 2930 New Pinery Road Portage, WI 53901
· U.S. Bank, Portage Downtown: 238 W. Wisconsin St., Portage, WI 53901.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
WARNING: This warrant contains extremely graphic content that may not be suitable for all readers