Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval announced at a press conference Tuesday that a 2-year-old girl was the victim of a homicide, the fourth in Madison this year.
MPD Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain said Joshua S. Gehde, 25, is being charged with first-degree reckless homicide. He is not the father of the child, but was the live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother. His initial court appearance was also Tuesday.
Koval said the original call was for a choking toddler, to which the Madison Fire Department and MPD responded. She died several days later. However, MPD worked with UW Health experts to determine the child was allegedly choked to death. She died April 14, according to Koval.
Koval’s voice cracked at the press conference as he released the details of the incident.
“When those calls come in, I don’t think it takes 30 years to have it still bother you,” Koval said. “I don’t think it takes 30 minutes.”
He also said he attended the visitation.
“I went to her visitation as did a number of detectives with me,” he said. “Imagine Toys "R" Us superimposed into a funeral home. It’s just not right to see those pictures of that angel. She deserved better.”
Koval also touched on a recent increase in Madison and Madison-area shootings. He said since the beginning of the year there have been 28 separate incidents, and that there have been 16 or 17 in April alone.
He referenced a two-day effort by MPD last April to suppress a similar spike of shooting incidents, which led to a relatively quiet summer, Koval said.
“We are enamored with the drive and with the culture of gun violence. And the purpose for me calling today is that I don’t want us as community to denigrate what is in our midst that we might be capable of helping,” Koval said.
Koval also said that the investigation of last week’s homicide near O’Grady’s Irish Pub is trending well. He said there must have been 20 people who witnessed the event first or second hand. Despite this, MPD has no one in custody in relation to the case.