RACINE --25-year-old Iryin Vaughn of Chicago is due in court Friday for his preliminary hearing. Vaughn has been charged with one count of first degree intentional homicide, one count of causing mental harm to a child (repeater), and two counts of felony bail jumping (repeater) after a domestic violence incident last month that left 27-year-old Gwynevere Wright dead in a home in Racine. An Amber Alert was issued for two-year-old Iryana Vaughn, who was eventually located in Chicago with her father.
Last month during Vaughn's initial court appearance a judge set a cash bond for Vaughn at $750,000.
The criminal complaint in the case lists a number of previous charges filed against Vaughn, including four counts of domestic violence, one count of aggravated assault, one count of retail theft, and one count of resisting a peace officer.
The complaint says officers responded to a residence in the 900 block of Racine Street just after 11:00 p.m. February 7th for a report of an assault that had taken place. Officers found Wright in a bedroom, lying face-up in bed, covered in blood, unresponsive and without a pulse. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene.
The complaint says officers learned Vaughn had fled the scene with Iryana, and that Iryana's brother, Wright's 12-year-old son, had been present during the incident.
Officers reported Wright had over 25 stab wounds consistent with someone being attacked with a knife to her back, neck and head. The complaint says Wright had small cuts on her hands, which an investigator recognized as defensive wounds someone would receive while attempting to fight off an attacker wielding a knife.
Officers interviewed Wright's 12-year-old son, who said his mother, Vaughn, his sister Iryana and himself were home all day without incident. Around 7:00 p.m., his mother and Vaughn began drinking, and said when Vaughn drinks, he "gets violent and always starts fights, even if people look at him the wrong way."
Wright's son told investigators he went into the bedroom where his mother, Vaughn and sister were, to ask if he could finish off his McDonald's burger, which he did, and then returned to his room, during which time he reported hearing Vaughn and his mother arguing. He told investigators that "this happened numerous times before, and it was normal." The boy says he heard Vaughn say "I hate you. I don't want to be with you anymore." The boy says he heard his mother tell his sister Iryana: "Don't ever date a man like this." He then heard his mother say: "Do it! Do it! Go ahead and kill me," after which time he heard his mother scream out in pain. About five minutes later, the boy reports Vaughn opened his bedroom door and asked if he was asleep, before closing the door. The boy says Vaughn looked "tired, and like he did something wrong." The boy says he then heard Vaughn and his sister get into his vehicle, and saw the vehicle leaving the area.
The complaint says the boy then went into his mother's bedroom and saw her lying face-up on the bed, covered in blood.
The boy was placed in foster care on February 8th, and was trembling and hyperventilating. His foster parent told investigators he was chanting for an hour and 45 minutes, saying things like "I just wanted my mom to die a peaceful death," and "my mom will not see me grow up to be a teenager." The boy's foster parent also says when he sleeps, the boy trembles and shakes as if he is freezing.
Two-year-old Iryana was found safe in Chicago and brought back to Wisconsin. Vaughn made his initial court appearance in Racine Monday. Vaughn faces life in prison, plus 49 1/2 years, and the prosecutor in the case calls it "the most vicious and savage attack as we'll ever see." Prosecutors say Vaughn had attacked Wright several other times, including one instance when he allegedly hit her with a truck.
Wright's brother, Zachary Strother, sat in the courtroom Monday as the prosecutor described Wright's wounds. "We didn't know she was stabbed 25 times. We didn't know she was stabbed in the head. All of this was shocking, knowing that my sister died in such a horrible, horrible way. She was treated like an animal," Strother said. Strother says he's especially horrified because he helped Wright relocated from Chicago to Racine, as she was trying to find a safer environment for her kids, supposedly away from Vaughn. "We thought it was a good idea. We didn't know that the perpetrator was going to come following her. We didn't know. If we had known that, we probably would have intervened a little bit more," Strother said. Wright's family says they're hoping for the death penalty if Vaughn is convicted, and their second choice is life-time confinement.
After the incident, outside the home where the Wright was found dead at 9th and Pearl in Racine, emotional neighbors say they knew there were problems with the relationship. Antonio Servantez lives below the family. He was at home around 11:00 Tuesday night when police say they arrived, following an assault call. Servantez says Wright and Vaughn would constantly fight, and police made regular visits to the apartment. Now, Servantez says he wonders if there's more he could have done to save a mother, and protect her children. "He has hit her before, and done this before. We could have prevented this somehow," Servantez said.
A vigil was held for Wright and other victims of domestic violence last month. CLICK HERE for details.