You are the owner of this article.
A knife to the heart: Questions remain after fatal September stabbing

A knife to the heart: Questions remain after fatal September stabbing

{{featured_button_text}}

RACINE — Matthew Young died on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.

During a fight in the parking lot of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Young — a 36-year-old father of two — was reportedly stabbed with a pocket knife.

He was stabbed by 44-year-old felon Tyrone Buckley, according to a 79-page police report obtained by The Journal Times via an open records request.

No charges have been filed and, according to Racine Police Department spokesman Sgt. Adam Malacara: “As the investigation progressed, it was discovered that Young was an instigator in this incident and Buckley’s actions were in self-preservation as a result.”

But nearly two months after the death of her son, Denise Young still has many questions. Even if it was self-defense, she questions why a convicted felon was not charged (or even arrested by the police) for carrying a concealed weapon, why police have not further investigated allegations that Buckley was allegedly stealing from her son, and why the police didn’t interview his friends, family and co-workers during their investigation.

She also wants to know why police officers repeatedly contacted the Department of Corrections, “hounding” the DOC about when Buckley would be released from jail.

How did Matthew Young die?

On Sept. 4, Young and a friend went to the office of Buckley’s parole officer, Casandra Jones, according to the police report.

Buckley had been extorting Young, according to Young’s family, and he had gone to Jones’ office to tell her about how Buckley had stolen some of his tools and was demanding $2,000 to return the items.

Buckley could not be reached for comment, despite The Journal Times calling and texting the phone number listed in the police report.

Buckley had been renting a garage from St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and Young was subleasing space within the garage, which allowed Buckley access to Young’s equipment. However, Buckley hadn’t been paying rent ($2,000 a month) and the church was evicting him, according to the police report.

After leaving Jones’ office, Young and two friends went to inform Bishop Lawrence Kirby, the pastor at St. Paul, of the alleged theft and extortion.

However, Kirby, who did not return requests for comments from The Journal Times on this story, wasn’t at the church that day. By coincidence, Buckley was there, accompanied by his son and uncle.

Eyewitnesses told police that Young approached Buckley inside the church, accusing him of taking his belongings. At about 3:45 p.m., they started fighting in the parking lot.

Young had a gun with him, tucked into his pants. His family said that he had a concealed carry permit; court records show that Young has never been convicted of a felony, and thus would have been eligible for a CCW.

Sometime during the fight, the firearm was kicked, thrown away or dropped — eyewitness accounts given to police differ. Buckley told police that Young was trying to grab the gun, but Buckley managed to kick it away.

After initially denying not knowing where the knife came from, Buckley admitted that he stabbed Young in the chest, ending the fight.

As Young scrambled into a car, a friend retrieved the knife and gun from the parking lot — police later recovered both weapons. Young and his friend sped off to Ascension All Saints Hospital as Young was losing blood rapidly in the passenger seat.

All Saints staff told police that Young was unconscious when the car arrived at the hospital, and he died soon after. The knife had punctured the right ventricle of Young’s heart.

What happened to Tyrone Buckley?

After stabbing Young, Buckley immediately went to the Racine Police Department, 730 Center St., while still wearing a shirt drenched in Young’s blood. He was taken inside station to be interviewed, but released hours later, according to the police report. Police did not notify Department of Corrections of the incident, the police report admitted.

“In an incident where law enforcement has contact with an offender, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to notify the Department of Corrections,” Tristan Cook, the Wisconsin DOC’s communications director, explained in an email to The Journal Times.

Racine Police Department Investigator Kristi Wilcox wrote in her police report: “(Parole Officer Casandra Jones) did not understand why she was not notified of the incident by law enforcement. I explained to her that there had been a lot going on with the incident.”

On Sept. 6, Buckley was arrested on a probation hold, per Jones’ request. Eight days later, Buckley was again released. The next day was Young’s funeral.

Police wanted Buckley out of jail

Bill Robinson, who is Jones’ supervisor at the Department of Corrections, told Denise Young that the Police Department had been uncooperative while Buckley was being held in jail from Sept. 6-14. According to Robinson, Racine police officers repeatedly called the Department of Corrections, asking for Buckley to be released, even though both the DOC and RPD were still actively investigating the case.

“The police were hounding us, actually, to get that guy (Buckley) released. If there is anybody to be concerned about, it would be the police because they were calling Casandra (Jones) for a couple days in a row, basically saying, ‘Why is this guy in custody? Because it was self-defense,’ ” Robinson said in a phone call recorded by Denise Young. That recording was shared with The Journal Times.

A felon’s knife

Several individuals told police that Buckley had been known to carry a knife and had allegedly threatened others with it on at least three separate occasions. Buckley told one officer that he “always carries” the knife he stabbed Young with, according to the police report.

In 1993, Buckley was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, which is a felony. He was again convicted of felonies in 1996 (substantial battery) and 2008 (possession with intent to deliver heroin), according to online court records. In 2000, he was twice convicted of misdemeanor battery.

As a felon, Buckley is permanently barred from possessing certain weapons, including firearms and certain knives. Updated in February 2016, the statute (941.231) reads: “Any person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm … who goes armed with a concealed knife that is a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”

However, Wisconsin law doesn’t have a definition for “a concealed knife that is a dangerous weapon,” leaving some ambiguity in the statute.

“I defer to the Racine Police Department and Racine County district attorney as to whether carrying a retractable knife is a violation of criminal law,” Cook said.

Denise Young sees it more simply: “If a thing can kill you, and it’s used in that form or fashion, it’s a weapon.”

Felons can receive approval from the Department of Corrections to carry a knife, but Buckley never received that exemption, according to a letter Denise Young received from the DOC.

“I can’t answer why Buckley isn’t being charged with possession with the knife,” Malacara, the Police Department’s spokesman, said in an email. “It is the final decision of the District Attorney’s Office on whether or not to charge an individual so that might a better question for them.”

Wilcox wrote in her report: “It was the district attorney’s recommendation not to arrest Buckley at this time (on Sept. 4) until more investigation was conducted.”

Racine County District Attorney Tricia Hanson did not respond to interview requests for this article.

Before the conclusion of self-defense was reached, the RPD considered requesting charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and negligent manslaughter, according to the police report.

As for the $2,000 that Buckley was allegedly requesting from Young, it was only mentioned twice in the report, and that was because somebody approached officers about it at the hospital soon after Young died.

“How many laws does he have to violate before he’s charged with a crime?” Denise Young said.

Claims of negligence

Matthew Young’s family and friends believe that the Police Department’s investigation has been inadequate.

None of Matthew Young’s co-workers and only one friend have been interviewed by police after Sept. 4, according to his sister, mother, and longtime friends LaToya Price and Vesna Franklin.

“I’ve been contacting Investigator Wilcox (for two weeks) and she hasn’t been returning my calls … she’s not responding to anybody’s calls,” said Price, who told The Journal Times she had been texting Matthew Young the day he died. “I was calling them, leaving messages … I wanted to give my statement.”

Franklin said she reached out to Wilcox multiple times in the weeks following Young’s death, but none of her calls were answered or returned. She ended up delivering a written statement to the police station without being interviewed by an officer.

Denise Young met with Police Chief Art Howell on Friday, the third time the two have met regarding Matthew Young’s death. During the meeting, the chief explained to Young that he was looking into the situation, after not being heavily involved during the initial investigation. Young said that Howell admitted the department should have at least alerted the Department of Corrections on Sept. 4 after coming into contact with Buckley.

In an email to The Journal Times, Howell wrote: “When crimes occur (major or otherwise), it is not appropriate for law enforcement officials to engage in pubic discourse relative to the facts or sensitive details of any given (unsolved) case. Doing so could jeopardize the ability to successfully prosecute said cases at a later date.

“The Young family has suffered a tremendous loss, and as such, members of this family have been afforded liberal access to my office to discuss their concerns. Private meetings with family members are granted out of respect for family members, and not intended for public discourse.”

Despite that, the Young family is not satisfied with the Police Department’s response and is in the process of hiring an attorney. Family members plan to sue the Department of Corrections and Racine Police Department.

Denise Young believes both the police and DOC were too lenient with Buckley and that her son would still be alive if his concerns were taken more seriously.

“I feel like the Police Department made mistakes,” Denise Young said. “I think they need to answer for that.”

Vesna Franklin said that Matthew Young considered going to the police after Buckley allegedly stole his tools, but decided against it because he didn’t think police would do anything.

A couple weeks ago, Matthew Young’s 5-year-old son asked his grandmother, “Are you sure my daddy isn’t coming back?”

Denise Young told the boy that she is sure.

Nearly two months after the death of her son, Denise Young still has a lot of questions. Even if it was self-defense, she questions why a convicted felon was not charged (or even arrested by the police) for carrying a concealed weapon, why police have not further investigated allegations that Tyrone Buckley was stealing from her son, and why the police didn’t interview his friends, family and co-workers during their investigation.

Nearly two months after the death of her son, Denise Young still has a lot of questions. Even if it was self-defense, she questions why a convicted felon was not charged (or even arrested by the police) for carrying a concealed weapon, why police have not further investigated allegations that Tyrone Buckley was stealing from her son, and why the police didn’t interview his friends, family and co-workers during their investigation.

Quote

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alert

Breaking News