When Huntley police and paramedics found Michelle Mathieu lying unconscious on the floor of the home she shared with her live-in boyfriend last week, they knew her injuries did not come from a fall, as they'd originally been told.
Mathieu died from her injuries six days later, and on Monday police arrested Robert Signorile, her 43-year-old boyfriend, on a charge of first-degree murder.
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Mathieu, 52, of the 12900 block of Rock Springs Lane, died Saturday at Sherman Hospital having suffered severe upper body and head injuries that police say came from Signorile, her live-in boyfriend of seven years.
Police Chief John Perkins said the blows are likely from Signorile punching and kicking her in their home. Signorile is being held at the McHenry County Jail on $2 million bond.
While the Kane County Coroner's Office performed an autopsy Monday, it was not releasing Mathieu's cause of death, pending a toxicology exam that could take several weeks, authorities said. Signorile is due in court Thursday for a bond reduction hearing.
On March 18, the day of Mathieu's beating, Signorile called a mutual friend and said his girlfriend had fallen and was unconscious. That friend then called 911. Huntley police and paramedics found Mathieu unconscious on the master bedroom floor.
"When the original officer got on the scene, he just felt with her injuries it would probably be more than just a fall to give her those type of injuries," Perkins said. "The doctor felt the same thing."
The couple had been living in Huntley since last August and rented a house in the Sun City retirement community.
They were rarely seen outside of their house, neighbors said Tuesday. Even when it was warm out, they usually kept the blinds drawn and their windows closed. They also made no effort to socialize with their neighbors.
Linda Carroll, who lives across the street, said Mathieu and Signorile were always invited to neighborhood functions, but never came. When Mathieu was the only one living there after Signorile left for three months, Carroll invited her to a wine tasting at her house. She didn't show up.
"We tried to reach out," Carroll said.
Trouble started within a week of their arrival. On Aug. 19, Signorile was arrested on two counts of domestic battery. A police report said he punched Mathieu several times and dragged her by the hair.
That report was a red flag for police because it indicated Mathieu was in danger. The case prompted them to personally follow up with Mathieu by giving her literature about domestic violence, explaining her options for getting help and support available for getting out.
"If you're in a situation that's an abusive relationship, it's not going to get better unless you get away," Perkins said.
Signorile was convicted of battery on Oct. 19, sentenced to a year of supervision and a $263 fine and was ordered to attend anger counseling. Neighbors said Signorile left the house for three months but by January he gradually worked his way back in, by staying during the day at first, then nights, weekends and finally moving back in.
Before moving to Huntley, the couple lived in unincorporated DuPage County near Lombard and in Carol Stream, police said.
It also appears Mathieu tried to get away from Signorile at least once.
Last June 12, Mathieu called Lombard police and asked them to stand by while Signorile moved things out of their shared storage unit. Mathieu had changed its locks and put it in her name and Signorile had come to get his things, Lombard Police Lt. Cindy Abenante said.
By June 16, Mathieu was staying in a Lombard hotel, after moving out of their house, Abenante said. Mathieu called the police that day because she suspected Signorile had taken some of her things out of their house. But police couldn't do anything because the house was outside the village limits.
While Carol Stream police have no record of domestic violence calls between the pair, there were money issues.
DuPage County court records show Mathieu never sought an order of protection against her boyfriend and that in November 2010 the couple was being sued for $1,075 on rent owed on their Carol Stream home. Creditors also took Mathieu to small claims court four times between 2007 and 2009 for debts totaling about $7,000, court records show.
Mathieu didn't work; Signorile worked as a carpenter, police said. The pair did not have children together, but she has a son from a previous relationship.
Carroll, the neighbor who lives across the street, says she's been in Mathieu's shoes but got away from the men who hurt her. She spent the morning crying over Mathieu's death.
"It shouldn't happen in this community or in any community, especially in Del Webb," Carroll said. "When women suffer any kind of domestic violence, they need to take that as a warning."
Mathieu's services will be held Friday at St. Robert Catholic Church in Shorewood, Wis., as she's originally from the Milwaukee area.
Daily Herald staff writer Josh Stockinger contributed to this report.