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Renee Marie KING

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Criminal sexual conduct and child abuse
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 20, 2010
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: February 18, 1982
Victim profile: Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger, 2 (her stepdaughter)
Method of murder: Beating (20 blows in the head)
Location: Macomb County, Michigan, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on April 9, 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Stepmom gets life for toddler's murder

By Charles E. Ramirez - DetroitNews.com

April 10, 2012

Mount Clemens — A 30-year-old New Haven woman was sentenced Tuesday in Macomb Circuit Court to life in prison for the 2010 murder of her stepdaughter.

Renee King was also sentenced to up to 50 years for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and up to 15 years for first-degree child abuse.

After a two-week trial in February, a jury found King guilty of killing 2-year-old Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger in November 2010. She was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under the age of 13.

On Tuesday, King declined to speak before Judge Diane Druzinski sentenced her, but her attorney spoke.

"Miss King maintains her innocence," said Jason Malkiewicz. "It's been a nightmare for her."

Lily Furneaux's parents, Lauren Furneaux and Jeffrey Wolfenbarger both read statements to the court before King was sentenced.

"My everything was taken from me," Furneaux said. "I'll never see Lily's first day of school … her wedding day. But you won't see those things with your children, either."

Wolfenbarger said King's act in taking his daughter's life was selfish, unthinkable and sick.

"You destroyed the lives of so many people," he said. "You can ask God for forgiveness, but you won't get it from me."

The courtroom was packed with families and supporters of the parents. Many donned T-shirts that said, "Fight like a Furneaux," "Justice for Lily," and "I am Lily's voice." Some carried giant photos of Lily.

Police say Jeffrey Wolfenbarger left Lily in King's care when he left for work. At the time, he and King were married and lived at a home in a trailer park in New Haven.

Later in the day, King called 911 to report the little girl was unresponsive, officials said.

Authorities say King gave investigators inconsistent statements about what happened to the girl.

An autopsy showed evidence of a sexual assault and that the girl died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

 
 

Furneaux to King: 'I get to have more children...and you don't'

By Jameson Cook - VoiceNews.com

April 10, 2012

Lauren Furneaux on Tuesday finally got her first and only chance to confront Renee King, the murdering stepmother of Furneaux’s young daughter 1-1/2 years ago.

“As I will never see Lily’s first day of school, first date, first prom, her graduate, her wedding, her children, neither will you,” Furneaux told King in a restrained voice, reading from sheet of paper. “I get to have more children someday. And I get to hide Easter eggs, I get to get my daughter married, dressed for her wedding, my son for his wedding. I get to do all those things and you don’t.

“You decided to take my world from me that day. So when you sit in front of a camera after Lily was killed asking if you could go to the funeral and crying because jail was too hard? Just wait, Renee, you have a whole lifetime of prison. Have fun. ... Life in prison is too easy for you. You took my daughter’s life and now the justice system gets to take yours.”

King, 30, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the November 2010 death of 2-year-old Lily Wolfenbarger-Furneaux, who suffered multiple blunt force impacts to her head and sexual assault, while under King’s care in her New Haven mobile home.

King was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder, child abuse and criminal sexual conduct following a trial in February in front of Judge Diane Druzinski in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, where the sentencing also took place.

King did not speak, but her attorney, Jason Malkiewicz, said she maintains her innocence. During the trial, King claimed Lily’s injuries were accidental.

“It has been a nightmare for her,” Malkiewicz said. “She told me and everyone else she did not commit this crime.”

Druzinski did not comment about King but mentioned the “emotional” nature of the trial and several letters she received from Lily’s loved ones.

“I sincerely hope that all together each of you find the strength for each other to help with your healing and hope you find some level of peace to carry forward,” she said.

Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, King’s ex-husband, whose divorce was OK’d by Judge Mary Chrzanowski only about one hour before the sentencing in another courtroom, castigated King at her sentencing.

“You have destroyed so many lives,” Wolfenbarger told his ex-wife. “Your selfish actions on Nov. 20, 2010, are unthinkable, disturbing, to say the least, sick.

“You can ask God for forgiveness, but as Lily’s father, never.”

King has three other children, two who are currently residing with her mother, Diane King, but who may seek for guardianship in light of the state seeking to terminate Renee King’s parental rights in May. The third child was living with her father.

About 40 supporters of the Furneuxes attended the hearing, most of them donning T-shirts in Lily’s memory and several carrying large photographs of Lily and posters.

Many of them are involved with the organization, “Justice for Lily,” formed by Lauren Furneaux, 26, in the aftermath of her daughter’s death. She created a Justice for Lily web site and Facebook page, and is seeking legal nonprofit status for the organization. Justice for Lily has raised about $35,000 for child advocacy groups and currently is campaigning to raise $1 each from 35,000 people by the end of April to donate to Carehouse in Macomb County and The Advocacy Center in Lapeer, where Furneaux resides with her parents Lynette and Chico.

King was sentenced to 30 to 50 years for the sexual assault and about seven years to 15 years for the child abuse.

King was also ordered to pay about $1,200 in restitution for Lily’s headstone.

 
 

Stepmother murdered and sexually assaulted toddler because she soiled her pants and threw a temper tantrum

Lily's injuries were consistent with those sustained in a car crash after her head was repeatedly slammed against the floor

By Rachel Quigley - DailyMail.co.uk

February 28, 2012

A woman has been convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting her two-year-old stepdaughter because she threw a temper tantrum and soiled her pants.

It took jurors just two hours to find Renee King, 28, of Macomb County, Michigan, guilty of murder, criminal sexual conduct and child abuse in the November 2010 death of Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger.

Members of the toddler's family cried with grief as the verdict was read out.

Lily's mother Lauren Furneaux said that though King would not be able to hurt any more children, 'it still doesn't bring Lily back'.

The two-year-old was murdered in her father's trailer park home in New Haven when King was left to look after her.

Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, 29, who is married to King, was at work at the time. He and Ms Furneaux had joint custody of the child.

During the trial the prosecution argued that Lily was killed simply because she acted like a normal toddler.

Assistant Prosecutor Therese Tobin said: 'The price...Lily paid with her life was because she was acting like a two-year-old that day.

'This defendant wanted to hurt Lily. Lily was acting up, and this is how she chose to hurt her.'

Lily's autopsy showed the 20 injuries to the child's head were consistent with having it slammed into the floor over and over again, the same trauma someone would experience in a car crash.

The injuries to her genitals, were comparable to what a woman would experience giving birth, the court heard.

Prosecutors said an object was used to rape the toddler, though exactly what kind of object was not revealed.

The defense argued that Lily suffered from a medical condition that caused her to fall, and that she fell again while King was trying to revive her.

Defense attorney Jason Malkiewicz argued that King loved the daughter like she were her own, according to the Detroit Free Press.

He said considering the gravity of charges, deliberations should have taken longer.

'They didn't even ask to see one single exhibit. Shocked is all I can say.'

When she was arrested, King told police and relatives that she dropped the two-year-old while in the shower, but investigators said there was evidence found at the home that did not support this.

The two-year-old's father, Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, faces charges of aggravated assault and disturbing the peace after knocking a woman over while attempting to attack someone outside court on February 17.

It was related to proceedings which took place in the court that day.

King will be sentenced on April 10. She has three children of her own from other relationships.

Lauren Furneaux told the Free Press she wishes there was more she could have done to save her daughter.

Ms Furneaux said: 'I fought with everything I had, and I failed as a mother. ... I just want to hold her again.'

 
 

Prosecutor: Renee King beat two-year to death as retribution

By Jameson Cook - VoiceNews.com

February 27, 2012

An assistant prosecutor contended Monday that a frustrated, drug-influenced Renee King repeatedly slammed her 2-year-old stepdaughter’s head against a floor in retaliation to the girl twice defecating in her underwear and having temper tantrums.

Therese Tobin, Macomb County chief trial attorney, asked jurors to convict Renee King of felony murder for the November 2010 death of Lily Wolfenbarger-Furneaux in her New Haven mobile home.

King had been complaining to others about Lily, Tobin said during her closing argument in front of Judge Diane Druzinski in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens.

“Two-year-olds aren’t easy,” Tobin said. “Two-year-olds have accidents. Two-year-olds have temper tantrums. Two-year-olds act up. The price that Lily paid that day -- she paid with her life.

“Lily was having temper tantrums, and Lilly pooped in her pants. That’s what set off this time bomb off.”

King, 30, faces a potential penalty of life in prison without parole. She is also charged with first-degree child abuse and criminal sexual conduct, as Tobin said that Lily suffered a “penetrating” injury to her genitals caused by an unknown object; a tiny artificial fiber was found inside her vagina.

A 12-person jury began deliberating shortly after noon Monday. The trial began Feb. 14.

King, who has three other small children, was alone with Lily on Nov. 20, 2010, for the three hours before she dialed 911.

King in several statements to police claimed Lily died from two accidental falls that were caused by King’s bad back faltering. She denied inflicting or noticing the vaginal injury.

But Tobin argued: “This was no accident. There is no plausible way given these head injuries that this was an accident.”

Lily suffered from at least 20 blows to her head area, five of which were traumatic and could have caused her death, Tobin said. Two major areas on the back and left side of her head appeared to be clusters of impacts, county Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz testified.

Tobin contended King was affected by prescription drugs for anxiety, depression and back pain. King was diagnosed with a bulging disc in her back.

Tobin argued that King gave inconsistent statements to police, pointing out more than one dozen conflicting comments about details.

She said King cleaned up the scene and Lily before dialing 911.

King’s defense attorney, Jason Malkiewicz, in his closing argument countered that Lily only suffered two severe impacts to her head that were caused by two falls in the bathroom. Backed by defense expert witness Bader Cassin, the Washtenaw County medical examiner, he said Lily suffered the vaginal injury from landing on a bathtub or shower ledge or faucet.

Malkiewicz said jurors could conclude from Spitz’s testimony that Lily died from impacts in two locations, although Spitz said the two spots featured clusters of bruises.

“So 20 goes to two,” Malkiewicz said.

He admitted King’s memory was “hazy” about the incident, but maintained that King remained consistent, including remarks to two police officers in the minutes after police responded and three interviews with Detective Sgt. Renee Yax over three days.

“With all the major facts in this case, Renee King has been consistent,” Malkiewicz said.

He asked jurors to put themselves in her place. “Imagine how your thoughts may not be so clear in 30 seconds of time” during which the two falls occurred.

Her memory was affected by her panicky state, he said.

Malkiewicz attacked the quality of the investigation by New Haven police, contending that they immediately believed King beat Lily.

“No one did anything to verify Renee King’s side of the story,” he said. “They thought they had their case after Day One.”

He said police initially believed they found an extensive amount of blood in the bathroom, as a detection device indicated blood’s presence, and on a towel found outside the home. But samples returned negative from the Michigan State Police Crime lab.

Tiny amount of Lily’s blood was found on bedroom carpet, a paper towel and cloth towel in the living room.

Malkiewicz told jurors King loved Lily “as her own,” and has “agonized” over her death.

King cried during large portions of her statements to police, and appeared hysterical in the 911 call as well as to rescue personnel at the scene.

“Take a look at the statements and tell me she’s not someone who didn’t love Lily,” he said. “Renee King wishes she could take back what happened, to this day. She wishes she wouldn’t have gone into that shower.

“What happened that day was an accident. An accident is not murder".

 
 

Renee King murder trial: Doctor undermines defense bad back claim

By Jameson Cook - VoiceNews.com

February 19, 2012

A doctor who examined a New Haven woman eight days before she allegedly killed her 2-year-old stepdaughter contradicted her Thursday, testifying she showed no outward signs of major back or muscular problems as claimed.

Emergency room Dr. Glenn DeLonge testified he saw 29-year-old Renee King at then-Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center on Nov. 12, 2010, eight days before Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger died from injuries while under King’s care.

King claims that a bad back caused her to fall and drop Lily in the bathroom of her New Haven mobile home while trying to clean her and a second time while carrying her on the way to a phone. She says she also fell at least twice in recent months, and went to the hospital Nov. 12 and asked for an MRI.

“I was able to conclude she had no neurological deficit related to her back pain,” said DeLonge, who refused to give her an immediate MRI. “She didn’t have any loss of muscle, atrophy, muscle tone."

King admitted she was taking three types of prescription medications, one for anxiety and depression, one for pain and the third “the strongest narcotic you can get,” the doctor said.

King is on trial in front of a jury and Judge Diane Druzinski in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, charged with felony murder, child abuse and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

DeLonge coincidentally was on duty Nov. 20, the Saturday afternoon Lily died.

Lily arrived with no pulse and wasn’t breathing, and was never revived despite 40 minutes of effort.

“She had a closed head injury” and visible injuries to her “forehead and behind her left ear,” he said under questioning by assistant Macomb prosecutor Therese Tobin.

Medical personnel noticed in a second review of Lilly that she had tears to her vagina and anus, and was bleeding from her vagina, he said.

DeLonge contacted authorities, as required by law for suspected child abuse.

DeLonge also examined King, who arrived via ambulance and told him she “slipped and fell and had complained about back pain and contusions,” he said.

She appeared “upset, frustrated” at the hospital, he said. After a couple of hours in the ER, she ripped out her feeding tube and tried to flee.

Testifying earlier Thursday were both of Lily’s parents, who split their custody of Lily about half and half.

Jeffrey Wolfenberger, who remains married to King but filed for divorce last month, said he gone to scout a painting job in Clinton Township and talked to King about noon Nov. 20 over the telephone, a couple of hours before he got a call to rush to the hospital.

King told him Lily “was throwing a temper tantrum.”

Wolfenberger gave a mostly positive portrayal of King, describing her as a “pretty good” mother who cared for Lily as much as her three own children aged 4, 5 and 7 at the time.

“She wanted what was best for Lily,” he said, adding that she spent more time with Lily when she was there due to their restricted time together.

King “did most of the disciplining, time-outs,” he testified.

He confirmed that King experienced long-term back problems and accompanied her on Nov. 12 visit to then-Mount Clemens Regional and a Warren hospital; he recorded the Warren hospital visit on his phone video camera, he said.

Lily was born out of a short relationship between he and Lily’s mother, Lauren Furneaux, 25, of Lapeer, and Wolfenberger was evasive about exactly when he started dating King.

Both parents testified Thursday, relating conflict over the custody arrangement, including three trials.

Wolfenberger said, “The s--- hit the fan,” when he sought custody two or three months after Lily was born, knowing that Furneaux and her parents wanted her to have full custody.

“I didn’t care what they thought,” he said.

Furneaux testified that when Lily was brought to her, Nov. 18, two days before her death, for parenting time, “There were bruises on her back and a scrape on her head.” Furneaux was so concerned that she said she took photographs of the injuries and texted them to Wolfenbarger, she said.

“I wanted to be able to ask them and not blame me,” Furneaux testified.

King told Furneaux that Lily suffered the injuries when she fell in a bedroom while playing with her young daughter, Furneaux said.

Lily told Furneaux the same thing, that she fell, she said.

Furneaux and King did not get along well and went months without talking, Furneaux testified. The pair disagreed over Furneaux breastfeeding Lily, and problems Lily was having with constipation that King portrayed as much worse than Furneaux.

Furneaux said Lily cried whenever she learned she was leaving Furneaux to be with her father and King.

In Nov. 19 phone call recorded by Furneaux, King told Furneaux that Lily was “throwing the biggest temper tantrums ever lately.”

In the call, King apologizes for a past mistake and says she wants their relationship and communication to improve. King, who does most of the talking during the approximately 20-minute conversation, says she loves Lily as her own child.

“I love her so much, all I want is for us to communicate properly,” she says.

King and Furneaux agree in the talk that the current custody arrangement needs to be changed for Lily’s sake.

“It’s stressful on you, it’s stressful on us,” King says on the phone. “I think we all need to sit down and talk about what’s best for Lily."

 
 

Prosecutor: Stepmom delivered fatal head blows

By Jameson Cook - TheOaklandPress.com

February 16, 2012

An assistant Macomb prosecutor asked a jury to convict a 29-year-old New Haven woman of murdering her 2-year-old stepdaughter Wednesday in the opening statements of her trial.

Chief Trial Attorney Therese Tobin said the number and severity of blows to Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger’s head and harm to her vaginal area should convince jurors that they should convict Renee King of felony murder, first-degree child abuse and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

“The sheer volume of these injuries, the sheer impact of these injuries will show her intent,” Tobin said in front of courtroom crowded with gallery spectators. “The devastating blows to her head caused hemorrhaging to her brain, bruises to her skull.”

Tobin said Lily died from three head traumas Nov. 20, 2010, while Lily was under her care at Meadowcreek Mobile Home Community near 27 Mile and Gratiot. She was pronounced dead a short time later at then-Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center.

Tobin said Lily was victim of prior abuse and will show photographs of Lily to demonstrate the severity of her new injuries.

“I don’t relish showing you these pictures,” she said. “They’re not easy pictures to see but will show you the elements of this crime.”

Tobin is expected to also try and show that King treated Lily worse than her three biological children.

The jury was seated late Wednesday afternoon on the second day of the selection process in front of Judge Diane Druzinski in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens. The trial, expected to last at least a week, is scheduled to continue Thursday.

King’s defense attorney, Jason Malkiewicz, told jurors King has consistently in insisted she did not intentionally hurt the child but dropped her twice due to her bad back.

King took Lily to the bathroom to clean her after she vomited, “then her right leg gives out and Lily falls,” Malkiewicz said. “She remembers three distinct sounds of Lily hitting the walls and the side of the shower.”

While running to the telephone to call, she dropped Lily again, Malkiewicz said.

Malkiewicz acknowledged that King dropping her twice “seems a little odd,” but explained that King had been falling due to back and leg problems, including numbness, since the prior February. About eight days before the incident, her doctor scheduled an MRI that never took place due to her arrest.

Malkiewicz attacked the police investigation, accusing New Haven officers of immediately focusing on King as a criminal suspect, believing claims of prior abuse by Lily’s biological mother.

“New Haven police did everything to try to disprove Renee King’s story and did nothing to find out the truth,” he said.

He noted that Lily’s husband, Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, and Lily’s biological mother were in the midst of a “bitter custody dispute,” and that the mother “would’ve done anything to obtain custody of that child.”

King was dressed in a whitle sweater over a blouse and slacks. She had her hair pulled back and dabbed her eyes apparently on tears at one point during Malkiewicz's statement.

 
 

Stepmom accused of killing child feared husband

By Mitch Hotts - VoiceNews.com

November 29, 2010

Six weeks before Renee Marie King was accused of sexually assaulting and killing her 2-year-old stepdaughter, she sought a personal protection order against her husband and the child’s father, claiming she was in fear for her own life.

“I don’t ever want him to be around me so he can put his hands on me again,” King wrote in her petition for the PPO in Macomb County Circuit Court.

King’s request for a PPO against her husband of two years, Jeff Wolfenbarger, was denied, according to court records. It had been filed one day after he filed for divorce from her, a move he later dropped.

Wolfenbarger attributes the legal maneuvering between the two to the everyday pressure of marriage and holding a family together in an uncertain economy, but added that he still supports the woman charged with his daughter’s death.

“Divorce is an ugly thing no matter what the situation is,” he said Sunday night.

“I absolutely do not believe the charges against her. Knowing her and knowing our family, I wouldn’t even be able to explain what kind of person would do the things she is accused of doing.”

King, 28, is being held without bond in Macomb County Jail after she was arraigned last week on charges relating to the Nov. 20 death of Lily Furneaux-Wolfenbarger.

She is charged with felony murder, which is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction, first-degree child abuse, a 15-year felony; and first-degree criminal sexual conduct penetration with injuries involving a child below the age of 13, a life felony that carries a minimum of 25 years in prison.

A preliminary examination will be held in 42nd District Court in New Baltimore on Dec. 6.

Lily lived in Lapeer with her biological mother, Lauren Furneaux and Furneaux’s family. She had been visiting Wolfenbarger’s home in New Haven for the weekend when she died.

According to police and prosecutors, King was alone with the child in the home King shares with Wolfenbarger when the incident occurred. She called police after claiming she fell in the shower on the child, but police offered a different version of events.

Authorities allege King used multiple objects to insert into the child’s vagina, tearing away at the skin, before using an unknown object to strike her in the head, killing her.

Investigators have not spelled out a possible motive in the slaying.

Lauren Furneaux’s family has said Lily resisted going to the New Haven home and frequently came back bruised after her weekend visits.

The child’s death took place six weeks after a dispute between the suspect and Wolfenbarger that resulted in King temporarily moving out and staying with her mother in Hazel Park.

Wolfenbarger filed for divorce on Oct. 7, claiming there was a “breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed,” adding there was no reasonable likelihood of a reconciliation.

The following day on Oct. 8, King applied for the PPO, claiming her husband had assaulted her, and was stalking her at her workplace and residence.

According to a copy of her PPO petition, King claimed that on Sept. 24 she refused to have sex with her husband during a camping trip in Lapeer and he bent one of her fingers backward and punched her in the back in retaliation.

On other occasions, she said in the filing, Wolfenbarger had thrown items at her including a cup, bowl and telephone. She also wrote about Wolfenbarger coming to her mother’s home in Hazel Park while the two were separated to retrieve a handgun he had left there. She claimed in the filing that he was “insulting and intimidating” and she needed to stay away from him.

She also had filed for a PPO against her first husband, Joel Freytag, according to court records, but the status of that request was not available.

Wolfenbarger denied ever hurting his wife, who moved back in with him along with her three children from another relationship. He has talked to her while she’s in jail and continues to stand by her.

“I have talked to her and I’m trying to keep our family strong,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wolfenbarger, who owns a painting company, said he would like to start a scholarship fund in the future as a tribute to his late daughter.

“Even if it takes years, I’d like to help someone pay for their college education in memory of Lily,” he said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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