Published March 25, 2016
A Milwaukee man told detectives he repeatedly stabbed his girlfriend because he felt disrespected, then stabbed her 4-year-old daughter as she screamed out "Mommy!" before using the girl's coloring books to set the victims' house on fire, according to homicide charges filed Friday.
Milwaukee County prosecutors charged Patrick D. Fowler, 31, with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Firefighters found the bodies of Jessica Ellenberger, 28, and her daughter, Madyson Marshel, in their Milwaukee home last Saturday. U.S. marshals arrested Fowler during a bus layover in Arkansas on Monday.
According to the criminal complaint, Fowler told Milwaukee police detectives that he and Ellenberger got into an argument and that she made him feel disrespected. He was unable to say how many times he stabbed Ellenberger, but he "kept on and kept on." He said she was still alive, so he grabbed more knives and kept stabbing her before he slit her throat. As the child was screaming, Fowler said, he stabbed her too.
Fowler said he watched them take their last breaths and he thought about killing himself, but decided to set the house on fire instead. Finding no lighter fluid, he said he used coloring books to ignite the blaze.
"Mr. Fowler stated that after setting the fire he walked out the front door taking the Easter candy from the residence with him," the complaint said. "Mr. Fowler stated that he did not feel bad for any of the decisions that he made."
An autopsy found 26 wounds on Ellenberger's upper body, plus burns on 40 percent of her body. Madyson was stabbed twice and was burned over 100 percent of her body.
Online court records don't list an attorney who could comment on Fowler's behalf. His extradition remained pending Friday.
Konrad Ellenberger, a retired police lieutenant who is Jessica Ellenberger's father and Madyson's grandfather, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier in the week that the girl had recently recovered from cancer surgery.