ELYRIA — Holly Dembie was trying to escape from her knife-wielding husband when she plunged from a second-story bathroom window at her Cowley Road home in Grafton Township on Aug. 11, Lorain County Sheriff’s Sgt. Donald Barker testified Thursday.
Already wounded from William Dembie Jr.’s combat knife, she doesn’t appear to have tried to flee after she landed in the backyard, Barker said during a hearing before Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa Locke Graves, who forwarded the murder and domestic violence charges that Dembie faces to a county grand jury.
After the fall, William Dembie, 42, went downstairs and stabbed his 33-year-old wife again, killing her, Barker testified.
When deputies arrived, they found Holly Dembie’s nude body where she had fallen and the knife nearby. She had knife wounds on her torso and neck, and the investigation has shown that she bled to death from the wounds to her throat area, Barker said.
William Dembie, who has since resigned from his job as a corrections officer at the Lorain County Jail, had called the Sheriff’s Office and told dispatcher Joy Sanchez that he had killed his wife, telling Sanchez he “just couldn’t deal with her (expletive) anymore.”
Barker said Dembie told him during an interview about two hours after the 1:30 a.m. call that he had waited for his wife to come home from a night out with friends to talk to her. He thought she would be more receptive to what he had to say after she had been drinking, Barker said.
The couple was upstairs in Holly Dembie’s room, Barker said William Dembie told him, when the conversation escalated into violence.
“She pushed him, he recoiled and punched her in the face,” Barker testified Dembie told him.
J. Anthony Rich, William Dembie’s defense attorney, argued Thursday that Holly Dembie was physically abusive toward her husband, whom he called a “classic battered male.”
After the punch, William Dembie said the couple went downstairs to clean up the wound, according to Barker. William Dembie told him that Holly Dembie then went back to her bedroom and he went to his room to get the knife, which he hoped would calm her down.
Barker testified that William Dembie said he then returned to his wife’s room to finish their conversation. When she refused to listen, he began stabbing her, Barker said Dembie told him.
Barker said it was unclear whether the stabbing began in the bedroom or the connected bathroom, but at some point a wounded Holly Dembie tried to climb out the chest-level bathroom window. He said William Dembie told him that he grabbed for her, and her pants — the only clothing she had on at the time — ripped off and she fell. Barker said it was unclear exactly when Holly Dembie’s shirt, which was found inside the house, came off.
“She fell out the window, and he went downstairs to finish her off,” Elyria City Prosecutor Scott Strait said later in the hearing as he argued against Rich’s request to reduce the $5 million bond on which William Dembie is being held at the Erie County Jail.
Dembie, wearing an orange prisoner uniform, kept his head bowed for much of the hearing, but he did talk with Rich several times. Rich at one point asked Barker to speak louder because Dembie is hearing-impaired and couldn’t hear what the deputy was saying.
Rich insisted that his client shouldn’t be facing a murder charge. He said it wasn’t disputed that that William Dembie killed his wife, but he argued that Dembie should have been charged with voluntary manslaughter because the killing took place when his client was in a sudden fit of passion or rage.
Although he didn’t elaborate, Rich said he has evidence that William Dembie endured years of physical and psychological abuse from his wife, who worked with special-needs children at Midview Schools.
William Dembie’s mother, Doris Dembie, and his sister, Sandra Dembie, echoed those comments after the hearing.
While they described William Dembie as a loving father and “kind-hearted” man, they said that Holly Dembie had a dark side.
After the hearing, Holly Dembie’s family scoffed at the allegations that she was abusive and insisted William Dembie was a physically violent man who neglected his family. Holly Dembie, they said, was the furthest thing from an abuser.
“Holly was sunshine,” her stepfather, Michael Foldes, said.
Her mother, Cheryl Foldes, said she had no doubt that Holly Dembie was prepared to jump from the window to escape her husband, whom she had planned to divorce.
“She jumped out the window to get the hell away from him,” Cheryl Foldes said.
The Foldeses also said they believe William Dembie came to their house, which is two doors down from the Dembie home, after killing his wife. The family wasn’t there at the time — Michael Foldes was at work and Cheryl Foldes had taken the Dembies’ 4-year-old son and other family members to a drive-in movie — but they said that when they arrived, the home’s lights were turned on all over the house, and only one light was on when they left.
Barker said deputies are still investigating what Dembie did after the killing.
When Dembie called in to report that his wife was dead, he said he was waiting in the kitchen for deputies and was unarmed. When deputies arrived, Barker has said, Dembie wasn’t in the house, but came forward when they called out for him.
He was wearing shorts and a shirt and was covered in blood, Barker said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.