A Wisconsin woman is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from her sick friend and poisoning her with eyedrops in what authorities alleged was an attempt to fake a suicide by overdose.
Jessy Kurczewski, 37, of Franklin, Wisc., was arrested last week on charges of first-degree intentional homicide and felony theft in connection with the case, which dates back to October 2018.
Kurczewski was caring for her sick family friend, 62-year-old Lynn Hernan, on a daily basis and had power of attorney over her estate at the time, according to a criminal complaint filed in court. Prosecutors say the suspect defrauded Hernan of more than $290,000, fatally poisoned her and then tried to pass it off as an intentional overdose.
Kurczweski called 911 from the victim’s home on Oct. 3, 2018, to report that the victim was not breathing, according to the criminal complaint obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
First responders showed up at the scene to find the victim unconscious in a recliner with a “large amount” of crushed medication on her chest, and several prescription pill bottles sitting nearby, the complaint said. Hernan was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials initially suspected it was a fatal overdose — a theory that the suspect encouraged by telling them that the woman had been acting “odd” and that her pill bottles were either too full or too empty in the week before she died, according to the complaint.
However, Hernan’s cousin pressed local officials to conduct an autopsy, citing the victim’s “suspicious” decision to leave her “entire estate” to Kurczewski.
The medical examiner later determined that the victim had died from a fatal dose of tetrahydrozoline, which is the main ingredient in eyedrops, according to the criminal complaint. The document also noted that Kurczweski called the medical examiner “multiple times” and showed a “great deal of interest and curiosity” in the findings.
Authorities searched Kurczewski’s home in July 2019, then arrested her and interviewed her several times over roughly two weeks.
The suspect denied staging a suicide in her interviews with detectives and suggested that Hernan may have staged her own suicide. She also claimed that the victim liked Visine, and that she’d seen her drink it with vodka in the past.
Kurczewski also told police that she knowingly gave the victim a water bottle containing six bottles of Visine on the day she died, according to the complaint. The suspect claims she didn’t know the eyedrops were deadly and thought Hernan would be fine because of her supposed history of drinking it.
Police arrested Kurczewski again on June 1 and charged her with homicide and theft. She was held on bail of $1 million and is due back in court on June 25.
Hernan’s estate was initially settled but it has since been reopened.
She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the latest charges.
— With files from The Associated Press
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