Domestic violence led up to apparent murder-suicide in Madison

Authorities say the victim of an apparent murder suicide failed to share with police past problems with her boyfriend, to possibly include him pointing a gun at her.

The Dane County Medical Examiner identifies the victim from a Saturday incident at 3125 Webb Avenue as 34-year old Sherry Waller, a mother of five.  Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says Waller’s body was found in her bed with a gun shot wound to her head.

Police identify the man who apparently shot Waller and then killed himself as 39-year old James Sykes.  Court records show Sykes has a felony conviction in connection with domestic violence involving a different victim.  Koval says as a felon, Sykes should not have had a gun.

Koval says there’s no record of past, police calls for service in connection with Waller at her townhouse on Webb  Avenue.

“There were some suspicions, there were some concerns, there was unreported threats against Sherry,” Koval says, noting a family member believed Sykes had previously pointed a gun at Waller.  “That should serve as a clarion call to all of us.”

Koval says bystanders and others must not be afraid to contact authorities or victim service agencies if they suspect domestic violence.

“There are a lot of victims who continue to live in the shadow of fear and who are not reaching out for services,”  Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Executive Director Shannon Barry says.

Barry says data collected for the most recent year available does show a 100 percent increase in contacts to crisis lines and other victim services compared to the previous year.  She says it’s encouraging more people are seeking help.

Barry says victims of domestic abuse can contact DAIS at (608) 251-4445.

Koval says Saturday’s deadly violence took place after a birthday celebration for the youngest of Waller’s children.  He said the children range in age from three to 14.  Koval also says two of the children were in the home at the time of the shooting.

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