Stacia Hollinshead, an Illinois county prosecutor who was slain in a Wisconsin home, was remembered as a loving mother and brilliant lawyer just starting out in her legal career. Beaver Dam police are investigating whether the death was an act of domestic violence.
Hollinshead was a prosecutor with the DeKalb County state’s attorney’s office in Illinois, and she died in a home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin on March 23, 2019. She lived in Sycamore, Illinois. The suspect was named as Ulisses W. Medina Espinosa of Beaver Dam, her ex-husband.
He’s accused of shooting her 15 times – including multiple times to the head and back – while she visited his parents with their daughter. She was in the kitchen when shot.
A GoFundMe page was established to help Hollinshead’s daughter. Hollinshead had considered taking out a concealed carry permit to protect herself, authorities say:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Prosecutors Called the Shooting a ‘Pre-planned Execution’ & Hollinshead Once Took Out an Order of Protection Against the Suspect
The prosecutor on the case alleged that the murder was a “a preplanned execution with a young child in the next room,” according to The Daily Citizen, which said bail was set at $2 million after the prosecutor noted that Medina Espinosa has a wealthy uncle in Mexico. According to the newspaper, body armor, military bags, and rifles were found in the suspect’s home. You can read the court record notations here.
According to DeKalb County online court records reviewed by Heavy, Hollinshead filed for divorce from Ulisses Medina Espinosa in 2016. In 2018, he was ordered to pay child support, and there were also judgments against him for attorney’s fees. The case was listed as “terminated” in March 2018. He lost custody but regained visitation.
She also sought an order of protection against Medina Espinosa in 2016, the online records show. She accused him of harassment, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle reported, quoting the court records as saying that the suspect was “verbally and emotionally abusive to me. He frequently demands to call me on video-chat to talk to [their daughter] to verify our location.”
The final notation in that court record says “OP- ORDER OF PROTECTION Waived.” The police chief told the Daily Citizen that a 911 call was placed, and authorities were still trying to establish the nature of the relationship between Hollinshead and Espinosa. Several people lived inside the home.
Medina Espinosa was described as working for Kraft Heinz, graduating from a local high school in Wisconsin, and having no criminal history, the Daily Citizen reported.
In a Facebook statement, the Beaver Dam police wrote that they responded to a residence in that city on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 at 2:42 p.m.
“It was reported through Dodge County Communications that a shooting occurred inside a home. At this time there is no threat to the general public. The shooting only involved private citizens and no officers were harmed,” the police wrote. “We are actively investigating this shooting and we will be giving the public more information as soon as we can.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato wrote that “Stacia was the victim of an apparent homicide in an alleged incident of domestic violence, shot to death inside a home in Beaver Dam, Wis. A suspect is in custody in Dodge County as authorities complete their investigation. Everyone here at the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office sends their love and condolences to Stacia’s family and loved ones.”
“News of Stacia’s death has left us stunned, deeply saddened, struggling to understand how someone we cared for so much could be the victim of such an unimaginably violent act, and wondering how we could have helped her to prevent it. We who work in public safety talk frequently about the risks associated with domestic violence. As prosecutors, we intervene in domestic violence cases in court to prevent the nightmare outcome that we’re all now living through.
Stacia’s tragic death drives home many points that we make constantly: Domestic violence is about power and control, it is learned behavior, it is present in all communities, it crosses all social and economic barriers, and it is preventable. No faction of society is immune from it, not even those who work in the public safety arena, fiercely dedicated to stopping it.
Stacia’s death is the worst possible outcome of domestic violence, and it will strengthen us as we continue to work to stop abusers who terrorize their partners and rip apart their families. Stacia is yet another face and heart to fight for, and a reason to believe in the work that we do daily to free the victims in our community from the power and control of their abusers.”
2. Stacia Hollinshead Was a Former Army Intelligence Analyst & the Suspect Wrote His Father a Letter
An old LinkedIn page in Stacia’s name says that she attended Northern Illinois University starting in 2015 in DeKalb, Illinois. She received a law degree from that university.
She was also employed as a residential case manager for Heartland Human services from 2014-2015. She had a bachelor’s degree from Park University in social psychology. She also studied military intelligence at Cochise College.
Amato, the state’s attorney in DeKalb wrote, “Stacia was 30 years old, a native of Effingham, Illinois, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst for 11 years, and a graduate of the Northern Illinois University College of Law.”
Fox 6’s Bret Lemoine wrote on Twitter that, according to authorities, the suspect wrote his father a letter. “Ulisses Espinosa gave his father a letter titled Will & Testament moments after allegedly shooting his ex-wife. Police say the letter implies Stacia Hollinshead, the victim, was already dead – meaning the homicide may have been planned,” Lemoine wrote.
3. Stacia’s Facebook Page Is Filled With Photos of Her as a Loving Mom
On Facebook, Hollinshead’s photos mostly showed her with her daughter. One showed her in a college graduation robe. A 5-year-old girl was in the home when Hollinshead was shot, according to WiscNews, and is now in the care of her grandparents.
She focused her life on motherhood and her career, her page indicates. Comments on the posts applauded her success. She also had a new boyfriend, Andrew Morris, who told the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, “… I just have so much bitterness and anger right now,” said Morris, 36, of DeKalb. “I was at the happiest I’d ever been in my life, and that’s when I lose her.”
DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. released a statement on Stacia’s death, writing, “Our hearts go out to her family and our minds turn to the issue of domestic violence and gun violence and the connection they have.”
4. Hollinshead Was Described as a ‘Dedicated Mother’ With a Bright Future in Law
Amato wrote that Hollinshead “began working for our office this past November. Although Stacia had been with our office only a few months, we quickly came to know her as a dedicated mother and prosecutor with a bright future in the practice of law.”
He added: “Stacia was sworn in as an attorney in the state of Illinois this past October after graduating from NIU’s law school in May 2018. She previously worked as an intern at CASA Kane County and in the private practice of law. Stacia had an impressive command of the courtroom, particularly so for a new attorney, showing great poise with tough and complex matters.”
Amato described how Hollinshead brought her daughter to work, writing, “However, Stacia shined her brightest when she was around her daughter. Because Stacia was such a hard worker, she would often bring her daughter to the office as she completed her work for the day. Her daughter was instantly a favorite among the staff. Together they would brighten the office and were a joy to be around.”
He added: “I and all of Stacia’s colleagues at the DeKalb County State’s Attorneys Office will miss her for the rest of our lives. I have made grief counselors available to everyone here during this emotional and troubling time. I want to thank the Dodge County District Attorney’s Office, the Beaver Dam Police Department, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation and the Wisconsin State Patrol for their work and assistance.”
5. Tributes Flowed in for Stacia Hollinshead
One woman wrote on Facebook, “Oh my goodness Stacia was an amazing person with a beautiful heart 😱😭😭😭😭 I’m so sorry to hear this and my thoughts go out to her loved ones.”
Wrote another woman, “Words cannot express how broken my heart is for her family. She was an amazing person. Prayers 😩🙏🏻”
A woman who did crisis intervention work wrote on Hollinshead’s LinkedIn page, “Stacia is a detail-oriented and organized individual that utilizes time wisely. She diligently cared for clients and showed team-work with other staff members. I highly recommend Stacia for any position because she would be a great asset to your company.”