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Victim's family reacts to decision to rescind parole of man convicted in 1997 homicide

Douglas Balsewicz
Posted at 9:29 PM, May 13, 2022

MILWAUKEE — Just hours after the chairman of the Wisconsin Parole Commission made a decision to rescind convicted killer Douglas Balsewicz's parole, the family of his victim returned to the street where the murder took place to declare victory.

"I was supposed to spend the night that night and I have to live with that," said Theresa Cook, the niece of Johanna Balsewicz, as she stood outside of the home where the murder happened.

At 23-years-old, Johanna had two kids and was a graduate of Concordia College. She was separated from her husband, Douglas, when he stabbed her more than 30 times in 1997.

Douglas was set to be released from prison as soon as Tuesday, May 17, after serving less than 25 years of his 80 year sentence. That was until Cook and other members of Johanna's family spent the week protesting in Wisconsin's capitol. On Friday, the family met with Governor Tony Evers. Shortly after that meeting concluded, he sent a letter asking for “immediate and expeditious” reconsideration of the killer’s parole. The decision was made to rescind Douglas's parole shortly after that letter was sent.

"I definitely did not believe that it would happen so quickly," said Cook. "We had a great conversation with the governor and it was during the meeting that we learned that the governor condemned this decision."
Now, Cook and her family say they're not done fighting for the current law to be changed. Their main concern is that they received very little notice that Douglas was set to be released, and that Douglas had not even served half of his sentence.

"They at least deserve to do half of their time otherwise why are we doing sentences," asked Cook. "We also asked for this grant to be altered to not include first and second degree murderers. We both agree that there are many other non-violent offenders that probably deserve to get out before Douglas Balsavich."

On the Friday night before Douglas was set to be released, a sense of relief from his victim's family.

"Jo Jo, we used our voices for you today, and we got justice for you," said Cook.

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