Fort Atkinson Woman Facing Homicide, Arson Charges

(Fort Atkinson) Prosecutors in Jefferson County have formally charged a Fort Atkinson woman with suffocating her grandmother and setting fire to her house to cover up the crime. Elizabeth Durkee is charged with First Degree Intentional Homicide, Strangulation and Suffocation, Arson of Building and Mutilating a Corpse in the June 7th death of the 75-year-old.

Durkee reportedly told investigators that the victim asked to end her life because she was in poor health, blind with diabetes and advanced Parkinson’s disease, and had suffered a severe stroke in March. The complaint indicates the victim was alert enough to interact with her family, watch television and reminisce.

Durkee allegedly put duct tape over her mouth and watched her die. That was on a Monday. She spent the rest of the week deciding what to do next. This past Friday, she apparently poured gasoline on the corpse, lit the house on fire and fled with her two-year-old daughter. That sparked an Amber Alert. The two were found in a motel in Delevan the next day, safe. Durkee later told authorities that she had considered driving her car into the Rock River or Lake Michigan.

If convicted, the Homicide charge carries a maximum life prison sentence. Cash bond was set at $1-million dollars Tuesday and the 36-year-old has a preliminary hearing on the calendar in August.