SHEBOYGAN COUNTY, Wisconsin (WITI) — A 55-year-old Grafton man is facing several counts of domestic abuse after allegedly entering his ex-girlfriend's house uninvited, where he's alleged to have beaten and tied her up. A pizza delivery man alerted police when the woman mouthed the words "help me" to him.
"It's kind of scary. Gave him his pizza, and noticed behind him was his girlfriend. She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words 'call police,'" said Joey Grundl, the pizza delivery driver who helped the woman in this case.
Dean Hoffmann has been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, strangulation and suffocation, felony intimidation of a victim, and burglary of a building.
According to a criminal complaint, the victim — a 57-year-old woman — started dating Hoffmann in 2016 and they lived together until August of 2018. After their breakup, the woman moved to a home near 2nd and Lyndon.
Investigators say around 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 Hoffmann entered her home without knocking and without her permission. She told Hoffmann to leave and grabbed her phone to call police. As she picked up her phone, Hoffmann allegedly ripped the phone out of her hands, grabbed her by the waist and dragged her toward steps that led upstairs.
The complaint says Hoffmann shoved the victim, causing her to fall with her back on the steps. The complaint says Hoffmann pulled her hair, ripped her shirt and continued to try and get the woman up the stairs. In an attempt to get away, the woman told investigators she hit Hoffmann in the groin. Hoffmann then punched her in the face, giving her a black eye and bloody nose.
Afterward, the complaint says Hoffmann locked them both in the bathroom for approximately 30 minutes while the woman tended to her bloody nose.
Prosecutors say Hoffmann then forced the woman upstairs and onto her bed. He bound her hands and feet with a power cord from her vacuum, and shoved a towel in her mouth to ensure "nobody would be able to hear her." The woman told investigators while she was tied up, she had trouble breathing and feared she was going to die.
After about 30 minutes, Hoffmann untied the woman, but for the next several hours, he would not let her leave her own house. The woman told Hoffmann, "if you love me, you will let me go" to which Hoffmann replied, "you know I can't do that."
The woman stated Hoffmann remarked he "should have brought his gun in from the car so that he could shoot both of them." Investigators say Hoffmann used the woman's phone to text her children, posing as the victim, telling them she was sick and not to come over for a few days.
A Domino's Pizza delivery driver alerted police after delivering a pizza to Hoffmann and the victim. He observed the woman behind Hoffmann point to her eye and mouth the words, "help me" and "call the police."
The driver then left and called 911.
"I had a delivery. It was a middle-aged couple. The woman clearly had a black eye. She pointed to it, and I swear she mouthed 'help me,'" said Grundl to the 911 dispatcher.
When police arrived, Hoffmann blocked the woman from opening the door. Police heard the woman yell "help me" and "please come in." Hoffmann eventually let the officers inside.
During the time Hoffmann was in the victim's home, the woman said she "truly believed [he] was going to kill her that night."
Officials spoke with Hoffmann, who stated he and his ex-girlfriend got into an argument and at one point he punched her in the face -- stating it happened "in the heat of the moment."
When asked if he owned any firearms, Hoffmann said he had a .22 caliber firearm in a case in the trunk of his vehicle.
"I'm grateful (the delivery driver) was paying attention, because it could have been a lot worse," said Amy Hammarlund, neighbor.