West Allis boy dead, mother charged with chronic neglect

Tasha Rockow, 32, of West Allis has been charged with two counts in connection to the death of her 6-year-old son Hank "Asher" Brown-Rockow on Sept. 6.

Rockow is charged with one count of chronic neglect of a child (consequence is death) and one count of false imprisonment. Prosecutors said additional charges are possible.

The West Allis Fire Department was called to a home near 73rd and Lapham for a report of a child with a stab wound. First responders arrived "within minutes" of the call, which came in shortly before 3 p.m.

WARNING: The following descriptions may be disturbing to some readers.

According to a criminal complaint, the boy was gray in color, appeared malnourished and had bruises covering his body "from head to toe." Officials noted a stab wound to his abdomen. The stab wound appeared to be an "older injury." Documents say instead of blood, "brown fluid…was leaking from the wound." In the OR, doctors found the boy's small intestine was torn, not from a stab wound but "blunt force trauma."

While at the scene, the complaint states, Brown-Rockow lost his pulse. Personnel continuously performed CPR as he was transported to Children's Wisconsin. First responders "knew that (Brown-Rockow's) condition was the result of something far more serious than a single stab wound." One of the physicians also noted human bite marks, in addition to the other injuries, the complaint states.

Brown-Rockow was pronounced dead at Children's Wisconsin.

According to the complaint, Brown-Rockow lived with his father most of his life. When his father passed away in 2020, Brown-Rockow was placed with his mother who, the complaint states, had no prior relationship with the child.

While speaking with police, Rockow said it was "normal behavior" for her son to play with knives on a regular basis. She also said the bruising was the result of not getting along with other children in the home, who had hit the boy.

Hank "Asher" Brown-Rockow

Rockow told police that on Sept. 6, she was woken up by two children who said Brown-Rockow had been playing with a knife and fell. She said she found him face down on the floor with a knife next to him, according to the complaint. She called 911 and applied pressure to his abdomen.

According to the complaint, Rockow said she had no explanation as to how the boy suffered bruising from head to toe and no explanation for the bite marks on his body. During her 911 call, police say her statements about the boy contradicted his actual condition and she repeatedly made comments that other children had hit the boy.

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Statements and search

Police spoke with a woman who lived upstairs from Rockow and her children. She said Rockow treated Brown-Rockow "like a convict," per the complaint. She said Rockow did not allow the child to sit on furniture and often denied him food.

A man who knew Rockow told police that she treated Brown-Rockow "like (expletive)." He said he once saw the boy handcuffed with his hands behind his back and his legs shackled, according to the complaint. He asked Rockow why, and she said the boy steals knives. Three hours later, he saw the boy was still handcuffed.

Numerous different citizen witnesses were interviewed and confirmed Rockow chronically abused her child and had a "negative attitude" toward her son, according to the complaint. 

Hank "Asher" Brown-Rockow

The complaint states first responders found Brown-Rockow's bedding outside. There were two sets of metal handcuffs in Rockow's bedroom, consistent with what the man had told police. There was a knife on her dresser and another in the kitchen sink.

A review of Rockow's phone revealed searches such as "stomach bloating and swelling" and "five signs bloating is the sign of something more serious" within the hour prior to her 911 call.

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On previous occasions dating back to July, the complaint states, Rockow's searches included "how to heal brain damage naturally" and "skull deformity after trauma." She also searched for "insane asylum safety restraints" and other types of restraints.

Police spoke with two other children who were living in the home at the time. One expressed concern for Rockow-Brown but was afraid of saying "anything to implicate anyone" in his death. The other child was "vulgar, verbally abusive and displayed a significant dislike" of the 6-year-old. Both children were" surprised" to learn of Brown-Rockow's cause of death.

Police investigate in West Allis after child death

Autopsy

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy on Brown-Rockow on Sept. 8. 

A forensic pathologist noted multiple blunt force injuries, and cuts and bruising to internal organs. The boy had "healing fractures" to multiple bones and also had multiple hemorrhages. 

Brown-Rockow's death was preliminarily ruled a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen; the stab wound was not considered the cause of death, the complaint states.

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