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Complaint: Brown County family conspired to force patriarch into suicide

Brown County prosecutors have filed charges against Mary Peters, 81, Teal Peters, 55, Troy Peters, 58, and Justin Juranitch, 30.
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 4:45 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Charges have been filed against four family members accused of trying to intimidate their patriarch into taking his own life so they could reap financial gains.

Brown County prosecutors have filed charges against Mary Peters, 81, Teal Peters, 55, Troy Peters, 58, and Justin Juranitch, 30.

Criminal complaints obtained by Action 2 News include details readers may find disturbing. Continue at your own discretion.

In summer of 2019, the Brown County Sheriff's Office was called to a home on Moon Drive in Howard for a report of an older man who was suicidal. Deputies determined "inconsistencies" at the time. It was later that Detective Sgt. Zak Holschbach said he "was able to uncover a deeper conspiracy involving a very toxic family dynamic" and crimes against the victim, who was 81 at the time.

Investigators say they determined the man's family members "were trying to get him to commit suicide for financial gain, and so he would no longer be a burden to the family," reads the complaint.

The victim’s son, Troy Peters, told investigators what happened to his father. Troy said his mother, Mary, was involved. Mary is the victim’s wife. Troy also named his sister, Teal, and Teal’s son, Justin.

Troy Peters said Mary and Teal had argued with his 81-year-old father about money and his father’s refusal to pay for a recent trip. That’s when things started to “boil over.”

On June 24, 2019, Troy Peters said he witnessed his father, who uses a wheelchair and scooter to get around, in a white plastic lawn chair with tarps around him in the victim’s workshop. The criminal complaint says Teal Peters put up the tarps so there would be no mess to clean up should her father kill himself.

The complaint says Mary, Teal, Troy and Justin conspired together against the victim and bullied him into putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. They then called authorities and told them the victim was suicidal.

Mary Peters told investigators that she had anger toward her husband because she thought he was "selfish" and never gave her anything during their 60 years of marriage. She said she was concerned that it would cost the family "$12,000 a month" for her husband to be in a nursing home.

Mary told investigators that "she did not believe in divorce."

Mary said Justin, Teal Peters' son, provided the gun for the incident.

One witness said Teal Peters showed her video from the day of the incident. The witness described Teal as “the leader in this all.”

The witness stated that in the video, you can hear Teal screaming for her son to give his grandfather the gun. Troy Peters can be heard saying, "This has to stop somewhere, Teal."

Investigators spoke with the victim, who said his family "constantly torment" him and "treat me awful."

"They say I am a burden and I should walk," said the victim. He said he had reached his breaking point, and it all came to a head on June 24, 2019. He stated Mary, Teal and Justin surrounded him. Teal hung up three tarps. Justin gave him a "homemade looking gun and told me to kill myself," said the victim. "He sat right in front of me and handed me the gun saying, 'here grandpa, use it.'"

"I couldn't take it anymore so I put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened and the gun was not loaded," said the victim. "I had tried to call the police from the phone in the shop and Teal pulled the cord out. After they took the tarps out and got the gun away Teal called the cops." The man said his grandson, Justin, left with the gun. Justin also allegedly cut down the tarps.

The man said that he wanted to move into assisted living to get away from his family. "Mary, Troy and Teal didn't want to spend the money," he said. He said his wife had taken $50,000 out of his bank account.

Mary Peters later told investigators that she took a key out of her husband's power scooter the day of the incident because, "I did not want him getting out of there."

"A chair from the patio was brought in there, and I said sit in this chair," Mary remembered. "I had the key, I still have the key." She went on to describe the incident involving the gun.

Mary said her husband asked Teal why she was hanging up tarps. “So I don’t have to clean up a mess if you’re going to do something to yourself,” Teal replied to her father.

Mary again confirmed that Justin had given her husband the gun that was used that day.

Mary said she was sick of her husband and frustrated. She said they never intended to give her husband a loaded gun, but the incident was a ploy to “stop the crap he [victim] is pulling on us.”

When asked about why she didn't pursue a divorce from her husband if they were not getting along, Mary answered, "In my day you didn't get divorced."

Other family members described a history of disputes about money in the family.

On July 30, criminal charges were filed against Mary, Teal, Troy and Justin. Court appearances are pending.

CHARGES

MARY PETERS

1. Recklessly Subject an Individual at Risk to Abuse - Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm

2. False Imprisonment

3. 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety

TEAL PETERS

1. Recklessly Subject an Individual at Risk to Abuse - Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm

2. False Imprisonment

3. 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety

4. Intimidate Victim/Use or Attempt Force

TROY PETERS

1. Recklessly Subject an Individual at Risk to Abuse - Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm

2. False Imprisonment

3. 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety

JUSTIN JURANITCH

1. Recklessly Subject an Individual at Risk to Abuse - Likely to Cause Great Bodily Harm

2. False Imprisonment

3. 1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety

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