Mothers from both families weigh-in during murder sentencing

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. — An Iowa man has been sentenced 25 years in prison and another six years of extended supervision for killing his ex-girlfriend in Prairie du Chien more than five years ago.

Earlier this year, 27-year-old Michael Burroughs pleaded no contest to first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 23-year-old Shannon Fischer.

Authorities said Burroughs admitted to killing Fischer in his apartment in December 2006 in a dispute over methamphetamine.

He kept Fischer’s body in the apartment for several days, and then dumped it in the trash, police said.

Fischer’s disappearance had gone unsolved until October of 2010, when Burroughs walked into the Prairie du Chien Police Department and told a dispatcher he killed her.

Members from both families had the opportunity to take the stand Tuesday to share their thoughts before the sentencing.

“Mr. Burroughs, this is what you took from me the day you ended Shannon’s life: my one and only daughter,” said Diane Bouzek, Fischer’s mother.

More than five years after her daughter’s death, Bouzek still has many unanswered questions as to why Burroughs killed her.

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“Mr. Burroughs, you heard gurgling sounds coming from the other room where you had placed Shannon’s body,” said Bouzek. “Why the hell didn’t you call 911 and get help for Shannon? You waited a half an hour and then put her away in a closet. Then go back a day or two later and search a deceased body for your damn meth? What the hell kind of animal are you?”

“The minute I got up there, I didn’t know if I’d be able to hold composure to do this, but the minute I looked across the room and looked into his eyes, then the anger must have poured inside of me and I just thought ‘I can do this,’ and I did and I did it for Shannon,” said Bouzek.

Fischer was a mother of two young children. Bouzek said while her daughter did have a history with drugs, that doesn’t mean she was a bad person.

“She knew how to put a smile on your face and she could be a little jokester when she wanted to be and she could be serious when she needed to be, but she was an awesome, awesome daughter,” said Bouzek.

“My son is not a monster,” said Laurie Gjere, Burroughs’ mother. “We are all also losing out on Michael being in our lives. I do not know what went on, but please have mercy on my son.”

Burroughs’ mother was the only one on the defense to share an impact statement. She apologized for her son’s actions, asking for mercy from the judge.

“I do not agree with what he has done, but I find a comfort knowing he has a conscience,” said Gjere. “I feel deep sorrow for Shannon’s family, but taking Michael from us will not will not help or heal your family.”

“I can understand his mother’s pain,” said Bouzek. “I don’t think her son’s a monster. I know she’s got a lot that she’s dealing with, too, and actually my heart goes out to her. I’m sorry there are two families that are affected by this. Two mothers affected by this very deeply. Let’s just hope that everybody in time can heal.”

The prosecution said while the sentencing was a victory for Fischer’s family, no one came out a winner Tuesday.

“Well, it’s a tragedy on both sides,” said Tim Baxter, the Crawford County district attorney. “Essentially two lives were taken. One forever and one for a really long time and there’s no winners in this. There’s no winners with anything that has to do with a homicide case, so I just hope that they can all put some finalities to this as well as the Bouzek family can.”

Burroughs also made a statement apologizing to Fischer’s family, saying he was disgusted with what he did and regrets not taking responsibility for her death sooner.

Fischer’s body still remains to be found. Her family still holds out hope that they will someday find her remains and give her a proper burial.

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