A judge Tuesday sentenced a DeKalb man to 63 years in prison for fatally stabbing and beating his girlfriend, a 19-year-old from St. Charles, in their apartment and then wrapping her body in a blanket and shower curtain before hiding it in a closet.
Michael G. Kulpin, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealment of a homicide of Moorea Des Roches, a former St. Charles North High School student, after an April bench trial before DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert.
According to testimony, an enraged Kulpin in early June 2016 beat Des Roches with a frying pan and stabbed and slashed her body 27 times with such force the knife blade broke.
He texted her parents, pretending to be her and saying their toddler son wasn't sleeping well that night. Her body was discovered after her parents called police to do a well-being check.
Stuckert noted Kulpin estimated 10 episodes of domestic violence against Des Roches in an evaluation and scoffed at Kulpin's tearful statement that he loved Des Roches and their baby with all his heart.
Control and isolation -- "that's not love in any form or fashion" -- Stuckert told Kulpin before handing down his punishment. "This was a brutal, vicious attack. This wasn't one blow, it was a series of blows. It was all done with a child present."
Des Roches parents recounted their daughter's earlier years, relived how she got sucked into Kulpin's web of manipulation and control, recalled how Moorea tried her best to "save" Kulpin and described the pain that time cannot heal.
Moorea, who was named after an island the parents visited, loved nature, riding horses, playing softball and spending time with her family.
That all changed after she met Kulpin, who had been expelled from St. Charles East High School, as he isolated her from her friends and mentally, emotionally and physically abused her, her parents said.
"She injected life into our family. She had a spark that's now extinguished forever," Sean Des Roches told the judge, noting that Kulpin dumped Moorea via text message when she was in labor with their son, now 3.
"The most important thing to me is Moorea's little boy will hopefully never encounter (Kulpin) again," Sean Des Roches said outside of court.
Susan Des Roches said she and her husband feel enormous guilt, asking themselves if they could have done something different.
"Moorea was a happy, fun-loving, goofy, spirited little girl," Susan recalled.
She said Moorea moved to New Jersey to live with her grandparents and give birth, only to let Kulpin and his drug abuse creep back into her life.
"We couldn't get through to her," she said. "She was under a spell. We didn't understand domestic violence and the hold it has on victims."
Under state law, Kulpin must serve his full sentence for murder but can have the three-year term for concealment of a homicide cut in half for good behavior. He also gets a little more than two years credit toward his sentence being held at the DeKalb County jail.