Complaint: Fort Atkinson woman accused of killing grandmother, setting home on fire

Elizabeth Durkee
Elizabeth Durkee(Wisconsin Dept. of Justice)
Published: Jun. 15, 2021 at 3:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (WMTV) - A woman is accused of killing her grandmother and then setting her Fort Atkinson home on fire days later, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Elizabeth Durkee, 36, was arrested and charged with alleged first degree intentional homicide. Her preliminary hearing will take place at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 6.

According to a criminal complaint, Fort Atkinson Fire Department officers were called around 10:50 a.m. Friday to the 400 block of Foster Street for a house fire. Firefighters and police could see flames and smoke coming out of a first floor window of the house, as well as from the rear of the house.

A neighbor told officers that a woman had left the home before the fire with a child, but said they did not know if the older person who also lived in the house was still inside. A police officer who has had prior contact with the residents of the house on fire knew the older resident had medical issues and knew her bedroom was on the first floor.

When the fire department was able to put out the fire enough to see through the bedroom window, firefighters stated they could see the victim’s body.

The officer was able to make contact with the victim’s daughter, who is Durkee’s mother, who said they were not able to get ahold of Durkee. After interviewing Durkee’s mother further, officers stated the victim wanted her home to go to Durkee because she did not want Durkee to be homeless. Durkee has two children, a two-year-old and a 17-year-old, though police stated the 17-year-old had moved out a few months earlier.

According to Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Courtney Bauer, the victim’s body showed signs of decomposition.

An Amber Alert was issued late Friday night for Durkee’s two-year-old daughter, which was canceled a little less than two hours later when officials located the child, who was found safe.

Officers were able to determine later that Durkee was staying in a motel in the City of Delevan. Officials forced entry into the room Durkee was reportedly staying at after knocking and receiving no answer. Law enforcement found Durkee and the two-year-old, safe, and the child was eventually turned over to family at Durkee’s request.

Durkee told police that her and her grandmother, the victim, had discussed Durkee helping her grandmother end her life, according to the complaint. Durkee allegedly suffocated the victim with duct tape on Monday, June 7, officials state, and did not leave the house until Wednesday. Durkee told police she thought about calling an ambulance, but decided not too.

Durkee also told police she thought about setting the house on fire with her and her child inside. She later decided not to.

Officers said she later stared the fire on Friday morning and then left.

According to court documents, Durkee is also accused of strangulation and suffocation, arson of a building without owner’s consent and mutilating a corpse. Her bail was set at $1 million.

The investigation is ongoing.

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