Police investigate woman's death as homicide

Investigators find signs of forced entry into residence

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:44:20 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 25 2013 08:01:26 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

The Madison Police Department said it's investigating the death of a woman as a homicide.

The woman was found dead inside an apartment she shared with her stepmother in the 6800 block of Milwaukee Street around 10:35 a.m. Thursday, police said.

Family members confirmed to WISC-TV that Jennifer Boyce, 31, was the woman found dead. She was due in court Friday to finalize her divorce.

The apartment on Madison's far east side, not far from Interstate 90, had signs of forced entry, police said.

Madison's forensic team continued collecting evidence from the victim's home Thursday evening.

Investigators have been focusing on a first-floor patio door that was shattered.

Madison police said officers executed a search warrant at a home in the 3800 block of Atwood Avenue at about 10 p.m. Thursday. Court records indicate the address police were searching was the home of Boyce and her husband, Bernard Grosso. Boyce had moved out six months ago.

Search warrant executed in the 3800 block of Atwood Avenue

"Shortly after 10 (a.m.), apartment management found a deceased woman inside her apartment. We have determined there was forced entry through a patio door into this apartment," said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department.

Boyce was working as an epidemiologist at the state Division of Public Health.

Her family spoke with WISC-TV by phone from their Ballwin, Mo., home, and said they learned about Boyce's death from local detectives around dinner time.

Her stepmother, Dixie Boyce, said she doesn't believe the homicide was a random act.

She said Jennifer Boyce moved into the apartment six months ago, and she and her husband of 3 1/2 years were supposed to finalize their divorce Friday.

"(I am in) shock. We can't really believe it; I mean, these things happen on TV, they don't happen to us," Boyce said. "We're middle class, normal Americans, and she was a nice girl."

She said Boyce competed in the Ironman triathlon in Madison.

"She was very athletic and got real involved in sports and training for the Ironman, and she needed an outlet," Dixie Boyce said.

Joshua Page is one of several tenants at Prairie Stone Commons concerned about the victim's apartment being broken into.

"It's scary because I heard they jumped through the, (they) broke through the sliding glass window, and this is our unit right here (on the first floor). I mean, it's easy accessible, so (we're) uneasy; we're kind of shook up about it," Page said.

Neighbors in the apartment building said tenants keep to themselves.

"And that's why we liked it out here, because it was so quiet and secluded. Now this happened and I'm like, 'What's going on with Madison?'" Page said.

As investigators continue to process evidence, police are urging the relatively new neighborhood to keep a closer eye on its surroundings.

"I think any time we have someone who has murdered, a relatively young woman, that there's always potential for danger to others. And at this point, as I've indicated, while we're pursuing leads, we do not have anyone in custody for this crime at this time," DeSpain said.

"I don't want to have to feel scared. I don't feel scared. It's just kind of uneasy, just wondering what really happened and if the person that did this gets caught. I just don't get why people do this," Page said.

The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of death and will release the name of the victim once next of kin are notified.

It's Madison's first homicide of 2013.

The Madison Police Department said it's seeking information citizens might have that could help in this investigation. Tips can be anonymously provided to Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014. Callers may be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward.