Woman accused of trespassing into Green County homes in protecti - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Woman accused of trespassing into Green County homes in protective custody

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DARLINGTON (WKOW) -- Authorities in Darlington say a woman who's believed to have trespassed into homes in Green County is in protective custody.

A  Lafayette County Sheriff's official says the 54-year-old woman was contacted Friday.  She declines to say where the woman is being held, citing health privacy regulations.

Authorities say the Dubuque resident entered homes in Brodhead and Juda and used phones and bathrooms until homeowners discovered her, and then left without confrontation.  Authorities also believe the woman tailed a Monroe resident in her car throughout the city, only peeling off when the driver's father arrived.

A Green County Sheriff's official says there was concern if the woman continued to enter homes unannounced, it could be dangerous if she surprised a homeowner.

The woman's estranged husband tells 27 News from Liberty, Tennessee he received threatening text messages from the woman.  He believes those texts convinced police and others to take the woman into protective custody, after previous appeals from family to consider such an action were rejected.

"I felt totally helpless,"  the husband tells 27 News of his earlier contacts with Wisconsin law enforcement.  "I pleaded with them and told them she's going to wind up dead, or someone's going to hurt her.  She's a danger to herself and others," he says.

A Darlington Police official made contact with the woman at a motel Thursday, but took no action, until Friday.  Authorities say despite the woman's bizarre behavior in Wisconsin, no one was harmed.

Emergency mental health detentions require a person to be considered a danger to themselves or others, and must involve consultation by a mental health professional with law enforcement.

Dane County-based Journey's Chief Clinical Officer Tanya Lettman says that determination involves thorough screening.

"The police and...the crisis worker look to see if there is a past history,"  Lettman says.  "If they were driving a vehicle, were they driving erratically.  Did they have a psychotic process that commands them to act out against others."

Lettman says forcing someone into detention is significant.  "There is a fairly high burden of proof that we as mental health professionals and police officers look at to ensure that we're not taking rights away from anybody."

Lettman says often an involuntary emergency detention is avoided, by working with the person in mental health crisis to reach agreement on treatment.  She says outcomes can be better if the person voluntarily cooperates.

While the Dubuque woman's home invasions appear extreme, Lettman cites a case where a Dane County resident in the throes of a mental health crisis ended up in Germany.

The Dubuque woman's estranged husband says she previously entered a stranger's home in Iowa and was found in a closet.  A property company filed an action against her in Dubuque District Court in February.

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