83yo homicide victim left panicked notes, Lafayette Co. complaint says

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 3:01 PM CDT
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BENTON, Wis. (WMTV) – “Help Shannon is hurting me.” Those words were found on the first page of a notepad and are believed to have been written by an 83-year-old woman found dead in her Benton home late last month, according to the criminal complaint against the woman charged in her death, the victim’s granddaughter-in-law Shannon Bussan.

Scribbled on the same pad, just two pages later, officers reported discerning from the partially legible message, “She dragged me from the basement to try and get in my safe she (illegible) Help.”

Both messages were penned using the same handwriting and were two of four messages found following the death of Lynne Montgomery, whose body was found on Feb. 27 and whose death the Lafayette Co. Sheriff’s Office immediately indicated was suspicious.

An autopsy two days later backed investigators initial concerns. Pathologist Dr. Robert Corliss reported finding extensive bruising “consistent with (Montgomery) having been physically assaulted,” the criminal complaint stated. It added his autopsy showed Montgomery could have been smothered by a pillow and Corliss saw “no anatomically medical cause of death.”

Bussan, 29, was the person who called 911 on the Monday afternoon to report finding Montgomery, the complaint recounted. It quoted Bussan telling dispatchers, “I’m calling to report and emergency. I’m at my grandma’s house. She’s fallen. I don’t think she’s breathing. She feels limp. She says she took a fall.”

When deputies arrived at Montgomery’s home on Carr Factory Road, Bussan was still there, along with her three young children and a foreign exchange student who was staying at the home.

Investigators at the time noted that Montgomery was face down, had been wearing a Life Alert-style device, and was still warm to the touch. Paramedics took her to Mercy Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The complaint highlighted a safe that was seen the night of Montgomery’s death that had been moved from its regular spot to the garage. It stated Bussan’s husband had her take a photograph of it there because he found it strange. By 10 a.m. the next morning, the safe was reportedly back in the closet of the spare bedroom, where it belonged.

While in the house, investigators noticed drag marks along the shag carpeting and scuff marks from the bedroom to the spot in the garage near Montgomery’s Chevrolet HHR that were just as wide as the safe.

According to the complaint, Montgomery’s daughter told investigators only she and her mother had combinations to the safe. It added the daughter said she had the combination because the safe could be tough to open but added that should was never able to get into it.

A search of Bussan’s electronic devices allegedly found a draft of a Gmail message timestamped early in the morning of Feb. 28 that included apparent directions for opening a safe lock that authorities say match language used on an unnamed website page under the title, “to unlock on a 3 number combination.”

The search also reportedly revealed indications that she tried calling her husband three times, starting at 3:40 p.m., before texting him, “Emergency!” There were five more unsuccessful calls to her husband between 3:45 p.m. and 3:55 p.m. before a FaceTime Audio call connected, the complaint continued. Investigators allege that call connected at 3:58 p.m. and lasted for five minutes. Bussan called 911 at 4:02 p.m.

Beyond the notes found on the notepad on Montgomery’s nightstand, investigators later reported finding an index card with type about Ancient Astronomy and, handwritten, “watch out for Shannon Help me.” On the other side, in different ink, was more handwriting, that authorities said, read “Shannon She knocked me down in the basement dragged me upstairs threw me down tried to strangle me try to open my safe I don’t know what she will do next.”

Court records show Bussan has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide. She is due in court on Monday, March 20, for her initial appearance.

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