Murder-suicide stuns family, co-workers: 'Jennifer said that he wouldn't hurt her'

2013-01-25T20:30:00Z Murder-suicide stuns family, co-workers: 'Jennifer said that he wouldn't hurt her'DENNIS PUNZEL | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6179

Jennifer Boyce and Bernard Grosso were to have been in court on Friday to officially end their marriage. Instead, their lives ended before they ever got to the courthouse as a result of what Madison police categorized as a domestic-related murder-suicide.

Police discovered the body of Boyce, 31, Thursday morning at her apartment on Madison's Far East Side. That led police to look at her estranged husband, Grosso, 34, who was found dead Thursday night of an apparent gunshot wound when police searched his home at 3802 Atwood Ave.

The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday night that Boyce's death was the result of injuries from an edged weapon. Additional testing is under way.

"Certainly, we can speculate that this pending divorce hearing may have played a part in the motive," Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said. "But we'll never know that for sure."

Boyce and Grosso, who were married in 2008 in St. Louis, had filed for divorce last March. She moved into her apartment in July.

DeSpain said the couple had no record of domestic violence.

Boyce's stepmother, Dixie Boyce of Ballwin, Mo., said there was no indication of physical violence in their relationship. She said Grosso "had hurt her very badly psychologically" before she left him, but "Jennifer said that he wouldn't hurt her."

'We're all in shock'

Boyce, a graduate of Saint Louis University, was an epidemiologist with the state Division of Public Health.

"This is a tragic loss of a wonderfully talented and kind individual," the department said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Jennifer was loved dearly by everyone she worked with and our thoughts and prayers go with her and her family. Though she will be greatly missed, she left us with the best possible memories, which we will continue to cherish."

Gov. Scott Walker's office also released a statement of condolences about Boyce's death.

Boyce was an avid participant in endurance sports and competed in her first Ironman Wisconsin in 2011 because it fell on her 30th birthday on Sept. 11 of that year.

She also worked part-time at Endurance House since the triathlete specialty store opened its East Side location last January.

"Jenny was a very active person," said Kyle Larson, who owns Endurance House East along with his wife, Michelle. "She was a very friendly person who always had time for people.

"We're still trying to come to grips with it. I don't know that we will ever fully understand it. We're all in shock and can't believe that it happened."

If Boyce was feeling any particular anxiety in advance of her divorce becoming final, she never showed it around her Endurance House co-workers. "We knew that she was separated, but we didn't know that anything was troubling her," Larson said.

Grosso, a graduate of the University of Illinois, was an analytical chemist at Virent, a Madison-based company that creates fuel from renewable resources. A Virent spokeswoman would only confirm that he worked there, but according to his profile on social networking site LinkedIn, he had been with the company since September 2007.

He also listed experience as a marine science technician with the Coast Guard from 2002 to 2007.

Details emerge

DeSpain said Boyce apparently was killed early Wednesday morning from multiple injuries. He declined to elaborate on the nature of her injuries.

Police were not alerted until the next day when someone from management at her apartment at Prairie Stone Commons, 6809 Milwaukee St., reported a glass door had been broken.

When police began to attempt to make contact with Grosso, they became aware there were firearms inside the residence on Atwood Avenue, DeSpain said. Police obtained a search warrant and brought in the SWAT team and a robot from the Dane County Bomb Squad to begin a methodical approach to the house.

Once they were inside, Grosso was found dead with a shotgun nearby. Investigators were still trying to determine when he apparently killed himself.

Police also recovered a loaded assault rifle, DeSpain said, adding there was nothing on Grosso's record that would preclude him from owning firearms.

— State Journal reporters Sandy Cullen and Ed Treleven contributed to this report.

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