MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Many experts also call this domestic violence. Regardless of its name, it has become a national epidemic and we here in Michiana are not immune.
The recent case of Breana Rouhselang shook an entire community to its core.
It made national headlines and shocked our community. Breana was a bright, beautiful 17-year-old from Mishawaka and was brutally murdered.
NewsCenter 16’s Joshua Short is going beyond the headlines, speaking with her father and step mother. By sharing the story of their unimaginable loss, they hope to save other families from going through what they have.
“Sweet, very sweet,” Nicole Rouhselang said, describing her step daughter, Breana.
“Probably the nicest, most genuine, caring, innocent person you could probably meet,” Dave Rouhselang added.
Known for her bright smile that could illuminate a room, it went dark in December 2018.
“I was already on my way to work, it was exactly 11 o’clock that Sunday morning,” Dave said, describing the day of his daughter’s death.
He said he got a call from a family friend saying his daughter was missing.
He added: “I told my work, talking with them at the time because I was on the phone, they knew that my daughter was supposedly missing, I didn’t know what happened.”
Dave left work and picked up his wife and began searching for their daughter.
“[We] started to head down McKinley. That’s when her friend called back, when we were like halfway down on McKinley [Street] by Town and Country, she was found out there during a homicide investigation on Division Street, which is a block from her house,” he said.
He found out it was his daughter.
The four-page probable cause affidavit goes into vivid details about the hours leading up to Breana’s body being discovered in a dumpster. Police say some time Sunday morning, their beloved 17-year-old daughter’s life ended. Dave never read that affidavit.
“You don’t want to; it’s horrifying,” Nicole said.
One of the details Dave and Nicole did find out from the report was that Breana was 6 months pregnant.
Police charged 16-year-old Aaron Trejo with murder and feticide.
He was a football player at Mishawaka High School, where Breana also went to school. She was a cheerleader and softball player there, wearing No. 5.
Throughout our reporting, NewsCenter 16 learned there are several warning signs.
"It's pretty hard to predict a violent behavior," Dr. Bill Bruinsma, Executive Dir. of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center tells NewsCenter 16's Joshua Short.
He added: "History of broken relationships...fighting and hurting animals" are also red flags.
He also says jealousy is a big warning sign. Senior staff officials at the Northern Indiana YWCA agree.
"Those could be some warning signs to keep an eye on," Dir. of Crisis and Children's Services Rachel Shane said. "Is it an epidemic? Yes, but it's not a new epidemic," she added.
Shane also says it's very difficult to explain why we're seeing all of these cases "all of a sudden."
Now Dave and Nicole are talking about doing something about this epidemic of teen domestic and youth violence.
"I don’t want this to happen to another teenage girl," Nicole said. "I want them to be able to know what to do in this situation, how to prevent this situation."
They are spearheading a class for women of all ages to learn how to protect themselves from domestic violence. It’ll be two classes in March, limited to 30 participants and led by members from the South Bend Police Athletic League. South Bend Police Dept. confirms the specific details are still in the works.
This is not the only case of domestic violence in our area. You can learn more about the cases of Tysiona Crawford and Rayna Rison in the above video.
St Joseph County Juvenile Justice
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Precious Pals Inc.
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YWCA of North Central Indiana
Click here for their website