Bail set at $1 million for murder suspect
By: Jana Hollingsworth,
Bail was set at $1 million Monday for Jason Borelli, the Superior man accused of stabbing Leah R. Gustafson to death early Saturday.
Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank said his bail request was based on Borelli’s numerous criminal convictions and the violent nature of Gustafson’s stabbing death.
Borelli, 31, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. His preliminary hearing is 9:15 a.m. Jan. 18.
According to the criminal complaint filed Monday, Gustafson was under attack when she called 911 on a cell phone about 4:40 a.m. Saturday. She was unable to speak because she was fighting off the attacker, so her address wasn’t immediately known.
Soon thereafter, a neighbor called police to the 1910 John Ave. apartment building, reporting a loud altercation. Responders found Gustafson on the apartment floor with injuries to her head and several stab wounds. Police found a large Samurai-style sword next to her body. They believe the sword belonged to Gustafson, who had a collection of swords. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Describing events that led to the attack, the neighbor told police she heard a bell ring on building’s main door, which is a security door. She then heard the door to Gustafson’s apartment open and someone walk downstairs to unlock the building door, which can’t be opened electronically from a remote location. About five minutes later, she heard screaming and crashing noises coming from Gustafson’s apartment. The neighbor pounded on Gustafson’s door and called 911 when she heard the victim scream for help. A few minutes later, the neighbor heard the door open and somebody running down the stairs.
The neighbor’s description of the man leaving the scene led police to Borelli, who resides at 1901 John Ave., across the street from Gustafson’s building.
When police went to Borelli's residence, they found him leaving a bathroom wearing boxer shorts and wet as if he had just showered. They noticed cuts on his back, face, hands, arms and legs, and arrested him.
During questioning, Borelli could not explain his injuries or blood found on his clothing but denied being in a fight, according to the complaint. He said he returned home from the tavern at 12:30 a.m., took a shower and had no explanation for the time between then and his arrest.
Gustafson's neighbor told police she had seen Borelli at C.C. Tap that night, where he was drinking heavily. Her boyfriend, who tends bar there, told police Borelli had been in a foul mood and got into a confrontation with another patron.
Borelli has a history of alcohol-related criminal offenses including three drunken driving arrests, according to Wisconsin court records.
Police later found blood-stained clothing under the bathroom sink and blood on his apartment keys, the complaint said. Police Chief Floyd Peters said the two knew each other through an acquaintance who lives in Gustafson’s building. Investigators don’t believe the relationship between Borelli and Gustafson extended any further.
Funeral arrangements are pending.