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Posted almost 4 years ago
A Bismarck man has been charged with murdering his wife in front of her 3-year-old son.
Jessica Lea Bollinger, 30, died early Friday morning. According to preliminary autopsy reports, the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries to the head, neck and torso.”
Derek Theodore Bollinger, 27, was charged with Class AA felony murder and Class C felony abuse or neglect of a child.
South Central District Judge Sonna Anderson set bond for Bollinger at $500,000 cash and prohibited him from having contact with Jessica Bollinger’s son.
Bismarck Police Lt. Bob Haas said Bollinger called 911 at 12:18 a.m. Friday from his parents’ home in Sterling and reported an assault had occurred at 700 S. 12th St. #275. Police also received another 911 call from a concerned friend of Jessica Bollinger slightly later.
Responding officers found Jessica Bollinger unresponsive, and there was evidence at the scene that she had been physically assaulted, according to a release from the police department. The officers also found Jessica Bollinger’s 3-year-old son in the residence. The boy, who is not Derek Bollinger’s son, was unharmed and was placed in the custody of Burleigh County Child Protective Services.
Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Cynthia Feland said Derek Bollinger has been charged with abuse or neglect of a child for allegedly assaulting Jessica Bollinger in front of the boy and for allegedly leaving the boy with no one to care for him in the home after the assault.
Burleigh County sheriff’s deputies arrested Derek Bollinger at his parents’ home in Sterling without incident at 4:35 a.m.
Feland said police took a stool and a pair of crutches from the home that may have been used in the assault.
Feland said Derek Bollinger is being accused of causing his wife’s death while committing aggravated assault.
Alcohol was not a factor in the incident, Feland said.
Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt said officers had been called to the couple’s home at least once prior for a domestic dispute. Haas said Derek Bollinger was the suspect in that case in August, but Jessica Bollinger had not wished to pursue charges. Haas said he believes the couple married in the summer of 2009. Bollinger’s maiden name was Blotsky. According to court documents, she also was known as Jessica Lea Hakala.
Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Pam Nesvig said in court that Derek Bollinger does not have any crimes of violence on his criminal history; however, two women, Jessica Bollinger and another woman, have taken out protection orders against him. Jessica Bollinger had a protection order against him in August 2009, while another woman had one in February 2009, Nesvig said.
She recommended the high bond amount because of the “horrific beating” in the case.
Derek Bollinger said he is unemployed and requested a court-appointed attorney. He was unemotional and did not comment on the amount of bond requested by prosecutors.
“I feel horrible for what happened,” he said. “I thought she was OK.”
Diane Zainhofsky, director of the Abused Adult Resource Center, said domestic violence situations are always difficult. Victims of domestic violence are referred to the AARC’s services, and law enforcement, prosecutors and other agencies can help them, she said. She said police responded appropriately to the past incident between the couple.
“They were there, they responded, and we can only give people the tools to move forward,” Zainhofsky said.
“We truly extend our condolences to the family and friends of Jessica,” Witt said.
Jessica Bollinger’s sister, Nikky Tschaekofske, said Jessica was a stay-at-home mom to her son Able and had a small daycare in her home prior to a recent knee surgery. She had been on crutches, though Tschaekofske didn’t know if she had been using them anymore.
“She was a fun person to be around. She loved her son dearly,” Tschaekofske said. “She was an awesome mom.”’
She didn’t know Derek Bollinger well, and said he had been in jail most of the time since she knew him.
Jessica Bollinger’s father has taken custody of Able, and her mother will be taking him when she gets to Bismarck, Tschaekofske said. Her entire family is coming to Bismarck today, and Tschaekofske believes a funeral will be held Monday.