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Woman faces up to 12 1/2 years for stuffing her boyfriend's corpse in an old Christmas wreath box

Douglas Bailey, a truck driver from Prescott Wisconsin, was expected in Peoria, Illinois for Thanksgiving dinner last year. When Douglas never arrived, his family contacted police to file a missing person report. Five days later, Douglas’s body was found in a cardboard box dumped along a deserted highway in Kentucky.

Douglas lived with his girlfriend, Rose Kuehni but their relationship was rocky. Rose reported that Douglas abused her physically, sexually, and psychologically throughout their relationship. Rose has begun spending time with another man, Clarence, and Douglas became jealous. On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the couple was arguing in the bedroom. Rose feared that Douglas was going to rape and kill her, so she shot him in the chest twice. She sat with his body for some time before she wrapped it in a sheet, carried it out to the shed and placed it in an old Christmas wreath box. Thanksgiving morning, before dawn, Rose hoisted the box containing Douglas’s remains into the back of her truck and drove to Illinois to meet Clarence. They transferred the box to Clarence’s truck and Clarence drove south to Kentucky. He stopped on a remote stretch of highway, backed his truck up to the guardrail, and threw the wreath box containing Douglas’s remains down the side of a mountain.

At trial, Rose claimed she had shot Douglas in self-defense. The jury ultimately couldn’t conclude that Rose was guilty of murdering Douglas, but they did still find her guilty of one felony. Under Wisconsin Statute § 940.11, it is a Class F felony to hide a corpse with the “intent to conceal a crime or avoid apprehension, prosecution, or conviction for a crime.” In Wisconsin, a Class F felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 or up to 12 ½ years in prison, or both.

One could say Rose was unlucky in many respects, amongst them, she can count being a resident of Wisconsin. If the murder and abuse of a corpse verdicts had come out the same way, but Rose had been charged under the laws of one of the other states Douglas’s remains traveled through, the maximum sentence she might receive would be as little as 1 year. If Rose had been charged under Kentucky law - the state where the Douglas’s remains were dumped - she would have faced only a Class A misdemeanor charge for abuse of a corpse, punishable with a fine up to $500 and imprisonment up to 1 year. Alternatively, if Rose had been charged under Illinois law - the state where Douglas’s remains were transferred to Clarence’s truck - Rose would have faced a Class 4 felony, punishable by not less than 1 year and not more than 3 years.

Elizabeth DeFrance

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