A woman was sentenced to the maximum of three years in prison on Tuesday for concealing the death of a Richmond man she and her daughter have maintained they believed was dead before leaving him in tall grass in the North Branch Conservation area on April 28, 2022.
Theresa Marie Stoen, 44, of Genoa City, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty in May to one count of concealing the death of a person. In exchange, additional counts of concealment of a death and moving a body were dismissed.
She is required to serve half of her sentence.
During the emotional sentencing hearing, family members of Alex Oleston, 32, of Richmond sobbed and asked repeatedly why Stoen and her daughter Mikalah Stoen did not call 911.
They questioned how they could leave him in a field not knowing for sure if he was dead or alive and wait two days before going to police.
Oleston’s mother, Melissa Square, asked why instead of calling for help the two wrapped her son’s body in a blanket, put him in a car and “dumped him ... like a piece of trash.”
“What kind of human being would be able to live with themselves?” she asked. “We will never know if a simple call could have saved his life.”
She said her son, the father of three children, was good and caring.
“I don’t understand how they can go on living their lives,” Square said, sobbing inconsolably. “I miss my son so much.”
His father, Calvin Square, said he has no sympathy for either of the women.
“My whole world was torn apart,” he said. “[It] will never be put back to the way it was. [The Stoens] are the lowest form of life [and] should not be able to walk the streets.”
The family questioned if the women even knew for sure that he was dead when they left him in the conservation area.
Oleston’s family, as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Tyler Mikan, said Theresa Stoen most certainly should have known the right thing to do was call 911, since she has worked as a certified nurses assistant for the past 24 years.
Prosecutors said that Oleston was at Mikalah Stoen’s Richmond apartment when he fell ill and she called her mom Theresa Stoen for help. Theresa Stoen has said she drove from Wisconsin to her daughter’s home and found Oleston laying on the bathroom floor unconscious.
“I don’t understand how they can go on living their lives. I miss my son so much.”— Melissa Square, mother of Alex Oleston
In a statement to the judge Tuesday, Theresa Stoen, also crying, said she would do anything for any of her four children “as any parent would.”
After receiving her daughter’s call that night for help, “I didn’t know what I was walking into,” she said.
“I should have called 911, I had a warrant ... I realized too late that was a bad decision.”
In asking for leniency, she said she regrets her decisions.
“I wish I could take it back,” she said.
Turning toward members of Oleston’s family sitting behind her in the courtroom, Stoen said, “I wish it could have gone differently. I have deep remorse for your whole family. I am very sorry. I was trying to be there for my daughter as any mother would.”
The women’s stories have differed in details surrounding the incident including who told who to call for help.
Theresa Stoen has said she feared calling police because she had a traffic warrant. Mikalah Stoen has said she did not want to call police because she had a pending case for marijuana possession, according to statements from past interviews with authorities read by Judge Tiffany Davis during the sentencing hearing.
Caleb Oleston, Alex’s older brother, said he believes the women were hiding something that night, and because they chose not to call for help, the family will never know why he is dead.
He questioned that if, as Mikalah Stoen said, they were only smoking marijuana, why would they have administered naloxone which is used to reverse an opioid overdose. He said his brother was only known to smoke marijuana.
The Stoens have maintained they believed Oleston was dead when they left him in the conservation district, but it is not yet clear if he was, in fact, dead when they left him, McHenry County Conservation District Chief of Police Laura King has said.
The conservation district police began investigating after the man was found dead in tall grass the morning of April 29, 2022, according to a news release issued by district police at the time.
The McHenry County Coroner’s Office and the district identified the man as Oleston. He had “no signs of apparent injury,” according to the conservation district’s news release at the time.
Davis said Tuesday that the grass around Oleston’s body appeared to be matted and he had abrasions on his back indicating he was dragged to the spot by his feet. He also was wearing a blue jacket that was over his face and one shoe was off that was found nearby. She said police identified Oleston through information on his phone.
It was determined he had died 12 hours before being found by police and a toxicology report did not indicate anything “significant to show cause of death,” Davis said.
After a full autopsy was performed, his cause and manner of death still is undetermined, Olivia Zednick, chief deputy coroner for McHenry County confirmed Tuesday.
In handing down her ruling, Davis noted Stoen’s position as a CNA as holding a place of trust and authority in the community.
She said that although she eventually took responsibility, it was “unfortunately two days too late.”
“Honestly, I don’t even know that you even know if Alex was alive when you put him in the [car] and took him to the conservation area,” Davis said to Theresa Stoen.
Mikalah Stoen, who is eight months pregnant, also has pleaded guilty to one count of concealing a death, is set for status on sentencing Aug. 18.