MONTFORT — A 6-year-old boy was killed and his 8-year-old brother and mother were shot in the head Friday afternoon.
While Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman said the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shootings as a homicide, he said authorities are not searching for a suspect, and there is no danger to the public.
Jaxon Slaight, 6, was pronounced dead at the scene, a house at 305 E. Main St., by the Grant County Coroner’s office.
Joseph Slaight, 8, and Morgan Slaight, 27, are in critical but stable condition at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison. They were taken there by Med Flight helicopter after being transported to Upland Hills Health in Dodgeville.
All three had head wounds from a .22 pistol, the owner of which is unknown, Dreckman said.
“There are several pieces of crucial evidence that will be processed at the Wisconsin Crime Laboratory that will assist in determining exactly what occurred yesterday afternoon,” said Dreckman on Saturday. “This process may take several weeks to complete. Until that time, the Grant County Criminal Investigation Unit continues to follow all leads and collect any additional information that may be located.”
The two-story Main Street house, owned by Morgan Slaight’s sister, Rana Corkum, was described as “well-kept” by Dreckman. There were no prior calls made to authorities from the residence.
The Slaights have been living in Montfort a short time and lived in Edmund prior to moving to Montfort, Dreckman said. The family lived in North Tulsa, Okla., as recently as last April.
Jaxon and Joseph’s father, Tyler Slaight, does not live with the family and is not considered a person of interest in the case, Dreckman said. Morgan’s sister, Rana Corkum, who made the 911 call to authorities, is not a person of interest either.
While published reports Monday detailed the Slaights’ previous battles against methamphetamine addiction, Dreckman said drugs were not a factor in Friday’s shooting.
The Tulsa World reported in April that a Tulsa-area church renovated a home for the Slaights to live in. The World described Tyler and Morgan Slaight as “recovering” addicts who had made “strides in their battle against methamphetamine addiction.”
The World reported that the Slaights had regained custody of their three children, including their youngest son,
Charlie, who lives with relatives outside Wisconsin.
The house was donated to Tulsa County Work Opportunity Recovery Center and was restored by volunteers from Bethany Free Will Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Okla., in the church’s Big Serve Community Service campaign.
Joseph and Jaxon Slaight had been students at Iowa–Grant Elementary/Middle School since September.
“We are in pull-together mode,” said Iowa–Grant Superintendent Linda Erickson Monday, the first day after winter break where students returned to see the empty desks where Jaxson and Joseph would have sat.
When the district received word they were victims in the shooting, the district’s crisis team met to figure out how to cope with the tragedy. The school staff met Sunday afternoon to discuss what happened, and to plan out what would happen on Monday. A letter was written for the teachers to read about what happened, extra staff were assigned to the classrooms Jaxson and Joseph were in, and answer sheets were given to staff on how to respond to questions the students may have.
“Our whole staff was prepared last night,” said Erickson. “It’s just devastating to all.”
Erickson said the school district sent emails through its parent alert system to tell them what would be said in school, as well as to offer any parents the opportunity to come into the classroom to be a part of the conversation that took place during the day. Erickson estimates approximately a dozen family members came in to take part Monday.
“It’s a horrible situation,” said Erickson, noting that Jaxson and Joseph were “bright, able, well-behaved boys.”
Erickson said surrounding school districts reached out, offering additional counselors to help with the aftermath of the tragedy.
She said the school district was looking at ways to give financial support to the family of the Slaight family who live in the area to help them get back and forth from Madison while Joseph and Morgan are in the hospital, but Erickson added that they were deferring to others in the community on fundraising for the family.
Dreckman was asked during the press conference if murder/suicide was a possible motive for the crime.
“As with any investigation, all possibilities are considered,” he said. “Until we make that final determination, we are open to all considerations, absolutely.”
Authorities had not been able to speak with Joseph or Morgan as of Saturday evening, leaving authorities with the unenviable task of determining what occurred.
“As with any death investigation, you have got to look at all the different possibilities that are out there,” said Dreckman. “So they have played various scenarios through their head as they look at the evidence at the scene. They are putting it all together.
“In order to preserve our investigation I am not going to release anything else from the interior, what they think happened or anything, until we get a little bit more solid evidence.”
Dreckman said Wednesday morning that while the search warrant application included a “possible suicide note,” no suicide note was found.
As the Saturday press conference began, Dreckman took a moment to express his appreciation to the Sheriff’s Office staff and many other entities that had assisted in the investigation in the previous 24 hours.
“It has been difficult and draining, but your professionalism is to be commended,” he said.
Montfort Fire and EMS, Fennimore and Highland EMS, Fennimore and Muscoda police, the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department, Madison and UW–Madison police, the Wisconsin State Patrol Reconstruction Team, and the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory Crime Response Team offered their services.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Montfort United Methodist Church, across East Main Street from the house, Sunday at 1 p.m. Participants are asked to bring their own candles and dress appropriately for the weather.
David Timmerman of the Grant County Herald Independent and Steve Prestegard of The Platteville Journal contributed to this story.