Our daughter, Natalie Wagner, 24, a police officer
for the village of
Natalie had been having problems with Michael Quigley for some time. She had told her (police) partner that she was planning to leave Quigley and was just trying to find a way to do so without hurting him. She had told another friend that Quigley acted crazy, and she was afraid for her life. She was apparently dovetailing romances and had recently begun a relationship with Mark Meyers, an officer with her own department.
On the night of her death, Natalie worked until and then accompanied three co-workers to a bar in Officer Quigley's patrol area. One of those coworkers was her new boyfriend, Mark Meyers. When they left the bar, Natalie and Mark were holding hands, and Quigley, who was on duty, confronted them on the sidewalk and threatened to arrest Mark if he wouldn't leave. According to a friend, who witnessed the confrontation, a very intense argument followed. After the argument, Quigley deserted his beat and surreptitiously tailed Natalie back to the apartment in his squad car.
When she got home, Natalie phoned Mark Meyers, but their conversation was cut short by Quigley's arrival, and Natalie hung up without even saying goodbye. Twenty minutes later Mark's phone rang again, but when he answered, "Hello? Hello?", he was greeted by silence and then the click of the receiver being hung up. Mark expected Natalie to come to his place and posted a sign on his door instructing her to let herself in and come up to his room.
Quigley went back to the station to deposit his squad car and returned to the apartment in his personal vehicle. About ten minutes later, a gunshot awakened a physician who lived upstairs. The physician called 911 and told the operator that the couple downstairs were police officers and that the man was screaming that he had just shot somebody. Then, Quigley made his own call to 911, stating that he was a police officer and that his girlfriend had just blown half her head off. He, then, threw down the receiver and started screaming, "Why did you do it? Why did you do it?" The physician ran downstairs to see if he could help.
According to the physician, he was never questioned by police about what he saw, but police did ask him to change the context of the 911 call in which he stated, "The man downstairs is screaming he's just shot somebody. Can't you hear him?" When questioned by our family, this witness described a scene that was totally different from what was described in police reports and scene photos. (For example, he said that when he arrived at the apartment, the shotgun was not on the bed next to Natalie as it is in the photos.) He told us that the first officer who arrived at the scene, (a friend of Michael Quigley), began altering evidence and moving things around. The doctor also told us that the officer responsible for supervising Quigley (a personal friend) stated that Quigley could use the bathroom but to leave the door open, which gave him a chance to wash his hands before taking a primer residue test. (The officer later said under oath that he went into the bathroom with Quigley. The doctor was so intimidated that he changed his story.)
The Milwaukee Police Department proclaimed Natalie's death a suicide within three days. Later, when we read their reports, we discovered that they did no fingerprinting and collected no blood evidence. The senior fingerprint expert, who was called at home to come to the scene, was turned away at the door. He later told a friend of his, "This whole thing stinks."
Quigley was allowed to return to the apartment unsupervised the week after the shooting. He later told Natalie's friends that he dug Natalie's teeth out of the bedroom wall and carried them in his mouth during the funeral. When we questioned him about that bizarre behavior, he told us he no longer possessed the teeth, because his mom had confiscated them when he slept the night at her house. Later that week, Quigley's Milwaukee PD friends ripped out the carpeting in the bedroom and threw out anything they branded "contaminated." The Shorewood Police Chief ordered Natalie's new boyfriend, Officer Mark Myers, not to talk to us.
Quigley told three different stories
about his whereabouts before finally admitting he was present when Natalie was
shot. He, then, claimed that Natalie shot herself because he was breaking up
with her. We kept in daily contact with Quigley for over four months, in an
effort to get more information. On Natalie's birthday,
Quigley returned to work and was assigned for a number of months to the Sixth District, on the same shift with the very officers who investigated Natalie's death. An officer at the station told us that the subject of Natalie's death was never discussed.
Nine months later the DA ordered an inquest. Shortly before it took place, Quigley threatened to kill Mark Myers.
The sequestered inquest began on May 1. 1995, and lasted six days. The whole procedure was a farce. The police were allowed to submit copies of documents when the originals were missing, but we were not. Despite the presiding judge's request that the DA provide us with the list of witnesses to be called, that was never done, and most of our requested witnesses were not called. The few who were subpoenaed were questioned about Natalie's drinking habits, and not the issues we raised about our daughter's death. The police and DA allegedly couldn't locate the eyewitness to the confrontation on the street, despite the fact that we provided them with contact information. Contrary to what he had stated to us earlier, the physician (first person at the scene) agreed under oath that the staged scene pictures were essentially what he saw. We were not allowed to raise questions about the sign that Mark Meyers placed on his door that night, with its implication that he anticipated Natalie's arrival. When I testified about Quigley's statement to me, "Mrs. Wagner, I killed her," Quigley denied having said that.
Quigley's story was that, when he returned home with his personal car at , he found Natalie sitting on the couch. He said she told him she loved him, but they also argued, and she hugged him and, then, swore at him and went into the bedroom, got into bed and huddled under the covers. He said that he was undressing and started walking back out of the room when he heard a loud noise. He said that at first he did not realize what had happened and, moments later, was shocked to discover that she had blown half her head off.
In light of all the untrue testimony presented at the inquest, and the information and evidence that was not allowed to be included, it was not surprising that the jury quickly concluded that Natalie committed suicide. Our family's shock and dismay are indescribable, not only over the way the case was investigated but the way the inquest was conducted.
After the inquest, Quigley had his name legally changed to "Michael Patrick Austin."
Melinda and Robert Wagner