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Boy Tells Landlord About ‘Red’ in Mommy’s Room

May 17, 1996

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) _ A 4-year-old boy calmly dressed himself and his 2-year-old sister, made breakfast and took her to play outside after finding his parents dead of shotgun blasts to the head, police said Friday.

The boy later told his grandmother ``it looked like his mommy and daddy had painted the room red.″

The boy’s stepfather, David C. Domke, 36, apparently shot and killed his wife, Paula, 22, about 4 a.m. Thursday after returning home from work and finding a note on the kitchen table saying she wanted a divorce, Capt. Robert Kavanaugh said.

The boy fed cereal to himself and his sister and then played outside with her before finally notifying the family’s landlord, George Hopfensperger, about the ``red″ in Mommy’s room about 9 a.m. Thursday.

Patricia Pollom, the children’s grandmother, said her grandson didn’t realize the couple was dead.

``He went to find his mommy because he was hungry. He found them and said they looked like they had masks on their faces. He said it looked like mommy and daddy painted the room red,″ Pollom said. ``That was blood on the walls. That was dried blood and gore on their faces that he thought were masks.″

The Domkes both were recently convicted of domestic abuse. Their family said the two frequently argued about money and Mrs. Domke had lost her factory job. They had been married about 15 months.

Domke apparently shot his wife several times in the head with a hunting rifle, then shot himself under the chin as the children slept in other bedrooms, police said. He left a note for his two sons from a previous marriage, saying he loved the 6- and 8-year-old boys but couldn’t live without his wife, Kavanaugh said.

Domke, who worked the second shift at a furniture factory, was serving probation for a 1993 conviction for physically abusing his sons and a December 1995 domestic abuse charge. A judge had told him to get anger management counseling.

Mrs. Domke was charged this month with domestic abuse for pushing and biting her husband Jan. 21 in a fight over a $20 debt, according to court records.