Son killed in suspected murder, attempted suicide identified

Son killed in suspected murder, attempted suicide identified

A 16-year-old Madison boy who investigators believe was killed by his father on Tuesday is identified as Maxwell J. Peterson.

Investigators said Peterson was found dead at Token Creek Park and his father, Theodore R. Peterson, 47, of Madison, was injured in a suicide attempt.

The Dane County Medical Examiner said Maxwell Peterson died from homicidal trauma, but said the type of trauma would not be released because of the ongoing investigation.

Maxwell was a student at Madison’s East High School. In a letter to East High families Thursday, Principal Mike Hernandez called Maxwell’s death “an incredibly tragic loss for our East High School community,” and said the school would provide grief counselors to support students Thursday and Friday.

Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jen Cheatham said in a statement Thursday that the school was “shocked and deeply saddened” to learn about Maxwell’s death.

Emergency crews responded to a park when a park visitor found two severely injured men on one of the trails at 6:09 p.m.

Deputies said the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Theodore Peterson was flown to UW Hospital with life-threatening injuries. He’s in custody on a tentative charge of homicide, according to the release. Peterson was hospitalized and listed in critical condition Wednesday.

Deputies said the Petersons arrived at the park in a silver Nissan X-terra.

Officials said they are still looking for a motive, but they did recover weapons at the scene.

“That’s one of the things that our detectives are working on right now,” Dane County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Elise Schaffer said. “We are doing interviews with family members, friends, people that had contact with Mr. Peterson to try and find out what possibly could have motivated him to do such a horrible act.”

The family lived on a quiet far east side street where neighbors told News 3 Maxwell Peterson had special needs.

“I was shocked. I thought it was pretty crazy. You wouldn’t expect something like that, just around over here and not only that but your neighbor, next door, that they would do that,” Saleem Kahn said.

Detectives are interested in hearing from anyone who may have seen Peterson and his son or had contact with them between approximately 5 and 6 p.m.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office tip line at 608-284-6900 or on the Sheriff’s Office website.

The park was closed about three hours, but as of 9 p.m. Tuesday deputies started letting overnight campers back into the park.