Police: UW-Madison student accused of killing his mom had taken out life insurance policies

2010-11-30T18:00:00Z 2011-06-22T15:48:46Z Police: UW-Madison student accused of killing his mom had taken out life insurance policiesDAN SIMMONS | dsimmons@madison.com | 608-252-6136 madison.com
November 30, 2010 6:00 pm  • 

The UW-Madison junior told authorities his mother's early June death in a Lincoln County lake was an accident. But then police found a will and life insurance policies with him as sole beneficiary, according to a criminal complaint. And they found maps of area lakes, with the deepest areas highlighted.

The discoveries led to a Nov. 29 Lincoln County search warrant, served Monday night by Madison police and state Department of Criminal Investigation officers at the Downtown apartment of 24-year-old Chase Boruch.

Boruch surrendered without incident at about 8:30 p.m. at his second-floor apartment in the 300 block of West Washington Avenue, Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

He was booked into Dane County Jail on Monday night and will be charged with first-degree intentional homicide, Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger said at a Tuesday news conference.

Boruch transferred to UW-Madison this fall after receiving an associate's degree in the spring from UW-Marathon County in Wausau.

While earning his associate's degree, he served as president of the University of Wisconsin Colleges Student Governance Council. He also was president of Know How to Go, a student club that helped middle- and high-school students prepare for college. He was quoted in a UW-Marathon promotional brochure, which identified him as an Iraq war veteran studying psychology.

But court filings suggest Boruch may have had money problems. A letter dated June 1 from UW-Marathon found by authorities after his mother's death said he no longer qualified for financial aid at UW colleges.

On June 6, five days after the letter, deputies were sent to Moraine Lake in Harrison just before 5 a.m. after Boruch called 911. He said he and his mother, 63-year-old Sally Pergolski of Wausau, planned to go early morning fishing when she drove his pickup, with him in the passenger seat, into the lake. He had climbed out and had pulled his mother out, the complaint said.

When he was interviewed at Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk that day, Boruch told investigators his mother was knocked unconscious and that her face was in the water before he managed to get her out of the truck and onto shore.

Deputy Andy VanderWyst, who responded to the call to the lake, noted that the truck was in about 2 to 3 feet of water and that tire tracks to the lake were consistent with a vehicle being driven down the slope toward the water, not with an uncontrolled descent.

The complaint said an autopsy performed by Dr. Robert Corliss, a Madison pathologist, indicated that Pergolski had "mild features of drowning," but also had neck compression and brain injuries as well as bruises to the head, left arm and lower back.

When investigators questioned Boruch about three life insurance policies that were taken out shortly before his mother died, he acknowledged that it looked suspicious, according to the complaint. But Boruch told sheriff's deputies the policies were his mother's idea.

A woman who did a physical on Pergolski for one of the policies later told police the woman "did not understand why she needed an insurance policy and that the son had purchased it for her."

The complaint also said computer printouts were found at Boruch's Wausau residence "on issues related to deception, betrayal and detecting lies, and signs of deception."

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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