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
maintains her innocence," said Jason Malkiewicz. "It's been a
nightmare for her."
parents, Lauren Furneaux and Jeffrey Wolfenbarger both read statements
to the court before King was sentenced.
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
King's act in taking his daughter's life was selfish, unthinkable and
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.
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
King gave investigators inconsistent statements about what happened to
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
She said King cleaned up the scene and Lily before
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
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,
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
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
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
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,”
King told Furneaux that Lily suffered the injuries
when she fell in a bedroom while playing with her young daughter,
Lily told Furneaux the same thing, that she fell,
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
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 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
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
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
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
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.